Culinary Color -


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Modern kitchens get loads of vintage personality with 1950s-inspired appliances.

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Culinary Color

By Paul Stenquist

It was in the early 1950s that Brook Stevens, the world-famous industrial designer, woke up America's kitchens by creating robin's-egg-blue appliances. In the years that followed, we were treated to a plethora of colors from manufacturers of large appliances. But for the past 20 years or so, color has largely yielded to the pure, unadorned appeal of bare stainless steel. The trend in the small appliance category has been similar--and only rarely have we been

offered colorful choices in blenders, mixers, and the like.

Granted, stainless steel and appliance white can be very attractive in the kitchen. But now we can have more.

Vivid color is back, both in small and major appliances. For example, TurboChef's 50-amp convection ovens are now available in custom hues ranging from deep blue to vivid orange and more. Even Viking gas ranges, the top-of-the-line and utilitarian choice of many professional chefs and restaurants, are offered in colors as blatantly non-utilitarian as pumpkin, plum and chocolate. Ooh-la-la. Legendary French chef Auguste Escoffier would have been tickled by this splash of color.

Color bursts onto kitchen countertops in small appliances and gadgets too cool to hide in cupboards. Consider a vibrant orange kitchen scale from Leifheit Page. A long-time friend of home chefs, the KitchenAid stand mixer is now available in interesting colors including yummy buttercup. And, yes, you can still get a Cuisinart 12-cup food processor in white, but you could opt for brilliant red instead. Hungering for avocado? Hamilton Beach makes a stylish toaster in a shade of green that is a near perfect match for fresh guacamole. Not colorful enough? Try a toaster from Paylones Paris that's resplendent with red poppies on a pink background. That'll make your toast pop.

Peg Rathert of Sugar Bakers in Omaha says color is finding its way into the utensil drawer as well. New this year is a watermelon knife that comes in summer-fresh colors of pink and green. One of her best-selling items is a cheese knife that is available in yellow. "It works great, and it's easy to find in the drawer."

If a steaming cup of Espresso is part of your morning routine, you might enjoy owning a machine that's as lively as the beverage. Nestle's diminutive Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker is available in wake-you-up electric lime and persimmon red.

A check of gourmet cooking stores in the metro area revealed classic kitchen tools--those without plugs or moving parts--emerging from the drudgery of drabness. For example, Le Creuset makes a traditional teakettle that's available in both blue and red. That same manufacturer's oven-to-table enameled cast-iron cookware is available in other beautiful shades, including a purple that is as pleasing as a plump eggplant.

KitchenAid has introduced a line of pink "Cook for the Cure" kitchen appliances. A portion of each sale will go to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Other tools pretty in pink: a digital timer, a hand mixer, a 5-speed blender, a measuring tool set, and a 5-quart stand mixer.

Big Chill has a clever line of major appliances sporting a decidedly '50s look. It's available ... you guessed the same robin's-egg-blue that Brook Stevens introduced a half-century ago. Which just goes to show that, even in the kitchen, if you wait long enough, what's old becomes new again.

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