Stephanie Goto’s design-driven kitchen style – SURFACE

Kitchen Creative is a series produced by Surface in partnership with Gaggenau which highlights artists, architects and designers passionate about the kitchen who deal with the kitchen as a sanctuary of inspiration, meditative white space and human connection. Told as essays as told, the personal stories align with Gaggenau’s dedication to its core tenet of professional cooking, which is based on the development of intuitive technology to equip home chefs with the tools to produce restaurant quality results. In the first part, interior designer Rita Chraibi is poetic about her multicultural approach to food. In this feature film, architect Stephanie Goto reveals how cooking is like choreography in a movie.

When I design a building, be it a restaurant, a house or a gallery, I think about proportions, scale, color and light. The same goes for the culinary arts. The change is almost seamless, and I’m delighted to have reached a point where the two inspire each other – they are parallel and synergistic.

Cooking gives me so much concentration. With food, the truth is in the taste. It forces you to think holistically and comprehensively, forging a deeper connection between idea and expression. Making a recipe is similar to drawing, think of it architecturally: how are all of these things going to stack up against each other? Like a sketch, I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to end up with, but I layer and layer and layer, and I have that idea in mind. The likes are built in three dimensions in my head, and I work backwards from there.

Food is in my DNA. My mom is a great cook and so is her mom and her mom too. It has always been a part of my life. In Japan there is a ritual of hospitality and in my designs I always consider this idea of ​​how people feel. I think it comes from experiencing the caring hospitality of my family through their cooking. Attention to detail or attention to creating something specifically for a person or an occasion. There’s always just an extra layer of consideration as to how you present things in Japan. It’s inherent in my blood.

Whether alone or with others, cooking is a performance. I always mentally map and lay out whatever I need. I’m not always the interpreter, however. I also really enjoy watching other people cook. I am a good eater and observer. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my chef friends, it’s to always be curious.

I think of three things when I cook a meal: taste, aesthetics, nostalgia (if it’s Japanese, it’s probably something from my childhood). Then I take the ingredients and work in a rather improvised way to put them together using the fundamentals of cooking and basic ingredients – dashi, soy, olive oil, salt – and also things like lemon yuzu and salted plum with miso. There are many ways to get salty, sweet, and sour.

Similar to my architecture, my cooking is really simple in that I select one, two or three ingredients and enhance the beauty of each. This is how I approach Japanese rice or a simple fish; it is the same in architecture with wood, steel and glass. I really like things to be what they are.

The process of creation is just as important as the outcome, and I’m a little obsessed with being intentional about the tools I use. There are some Japanese knives and pliers that I like, as well as a black cutting board because I think the food looks especially good on black. I like to think about what I use because I think the process has to resonate with the outcome. I choose the instruments and then the vessels. I think of the plate or the ceramic that I intend to use while I am creating, it is all part of the choreography. See it as a whole.

I have Gaggenau in my house and my studio. I am obsessed with the Combination Steamer Oven, 400 Series Oven, and 400 Series Induction Cooktop, in addition to the gas burners and wok burner in my house. There is a certain precision about Gaggenau that really elevates the way you can execute your ideas. It’s a bit like having a nice knife. Something as simple as toasting bread in the oven is effortless. Everything goes perfectly as if by magic.

Lately I’ve found it extremely satisfying to switch to food and create experiences like the recent omakase tasting menu I created for Dom Pérignon with Morgenstern’s Finest ice cream.

The craft experiences have a lot in common with the architecture and design process, only it takes three or four months instead of three or four years. It deals with all the senses, layers, textures and what you see and feel, but the addition of the element of taste pushes the emotions even deeper.

I imagine it as a scenario, thinking of how people move and what they see, feel and smell. Next, I zoom in on the table scale, then the actual set-up scale, then the scale of a dish or a dish, then I zoom in and back to include space to make sure everything is in harmony. I think of every detail and the way he interacts with the customer.

It’s like making a movie, but it’s live.

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