Kitchen Lifestyle Centre

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By Duncan McAllister

The kitchen has become the centrepiece of our homes. It’s the place where we entertain and family members meet and interact. The new smart, luxury appliances are becoming a bigger choice in peoples’ kitchens. They’ve become a bold statement and interior designers are helping homeowners define that statement.

Montréal-based Distinctive Appliances has just opened their brand new showroom in Toronto. The family-run appliance distributor has for 33 years, imported unique and interesting brands from around the world. Called the Kitchen Lifestyle Centre, it can best be described as a culinary playground, a place where you can look, touch, taste and learn.

This is no ordinary appliance showroom. Anthony Amiel, Marketing and Business Development Manager of Distinctive Appliances, built the centre with the aim of educating and entertaining his discerning designer clientele. “Appliances have become a statement of who we are. We entertain a lot in the kitchen more and more, so we like to make a statement.”

The Kitchen Lifestyle Centre is open to interior designers as well as consumers, and is a forum for workshops, seminars, accredited design courses, industry speakers, and many other major industry events. At the consumer-driven events, you can expect to walk away far better informed than when you came in.

The layout is based on the concept of a live TV cooking show with an open-concept kitchen and counter seating for 24 participants. The live kitchen area has nine ovens, four fridges, and more than 20 different kinds of burners including gas, electric, induction, griddle, even a wok. Right behind that is a dining area with three large tables that can seat another 24 people.

According to Amiel, “We all have preconceptions of what these appliances can or cannot do.” Executive chef Mirella Damiani and the staff at the Kitchen Lifestyle Centre will be there to greet you and challenge your preconceptions of what an oven can do for you.

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In one popular demonstration, Damiani, who once cooked for the Dalai Lama, will make a fondue from chocolate chips using only a paper plate over a live gas burner. “I had a heart attack the first time she did it,” exclaims Amiel. “I thought she was going to set fire to the place!”

Everyone is talking about vivid new colours that add sizzle to your kitchen. Whether it’s cabinetry, tiles or appliances, “People like colours that pop. It makes a statement. It speaks to the kind of design cues they’re looking for,” says Amiel. Condominium and home builders are increasingly including appliances in their offerings, and colour plays an important role.

Not sure if you’re ready for a long-term commitment to that orange range or pumpkin fridge in your kitchen? Distinctive Appliances carries Viking’s D3 product lineup that offers a whole new level of customization in colour, allowing you to change the handles and knobs on the appliances. “You can change the colour in literally half an hour. I’ve done it myself,” says Amiel.

Visitors to the Centre may test drive fully functional appliances, such as the amazing Bertazzoni range that has a mind of its own. The fifth-generation, family-run business is the oldest cooking company in the world. Francesco Bertazzoni started making wood-burning stoves in the late 19th century, and their products have come a long way since then.

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The Design and Professional series of ovens feature LCD touch control interfaces.  XT models include the Bertazzoni Assistant, an automated control system incorporating a bank of pre-programmed cooking sequences. The automated computerized settings were created by renowned Italian chef Roberto Carcangiu, and not by computer programmers.

“Everybody wants to show off right? So everybody likes to make the perfect roast and the perfect lemon meringue pie when they have their guests over. It’s nice to have an assistant,” says Amiel.

There’s a strong designer connection at the Kitchen Lifestyle Centre. Amiel encourages members of the trade to “use it as if it’s your own. So bring clients there to discuss their kitchen plans, their appliance plans.”

The Centre is located at SOFA, the Source of Furniture and Accessories, at the International Centre at 6900 Airport Road in Toronto. SOFA is a place where the interior design trade and the furnishings industry connect with 200,000 square feet of evolving presentation space.

The Kitchen Lifestyle Centre will be presenting an upcoming dinner series for designers to host their clients for appreciation nights. “We can either do a cooking class, or a formal dinner, or whatever the designer wants to do as a theme,” says Amiel.



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