Heart Of The House
Whether you’re cooking for the family or entertaining guests, @home’s kitchenware, bar and appliances buying manager, Joanne Cussen, has the scoop on kitting out our favourite room
How did you get into this field and what attracted you to it?
I used to work for an import company that supplied homeware to retailers. I had to bang down the door at @home to land this dream position. I find food brings people together, so naturally the place where we prepare it will be filled with celebration, friendship and love. Deciding what equipment to procure for this area of the home is deeply satisfying.
What constitutes a beautiful kitchen?
An open space that flows into a lounge or dining area, so guests can relax and interact. I’m never completely ready when company arrives, so many a visitor has been roped into chopping and grating.
Let’s get the basics right. What are your kitchen must-haves?
- To start, good-quality cookware is essential. I swear by S&P’s Quantum range; it’s easy to cook with and even easier to clean.
- No kitchen should be without a solid, heavy-duty roasting tray. S&P’s Heavy Bake range is a winner.
- A decent collection of knives is absolutely vital. The Robert Welch brand is excellent value for money. If you can’t afford a full set in one go, a small serrated knife, along with a 20 cm chef’s knife, will do.
- If you can splurge, go for a Smeg oven – it’s certainly my dream!
Over to the bar. What are your four key pieces?
- Screw caps on wine bottles are popular these days, but a good corkscrew is still a necessity.
- Champagne tubs are essential for entertaining. @home has a fabulous range, starting from R290 all the way up to our flagship designer pieces, such as Elegance and Juka (my favourite), which cost between R1 200 and R1 500. They make amazing wedding gifts too.
- A set of good-quality wine glasses – preferably fine crystalline. Try the Guesthouse range, which is made in the Czech Republic.
- For your party trick, whip out a wine aerator, which allows your wine to breathe without swirling. Metrokane has a fabulous decanter that turns red wine into pure heaven.
What are the current kitchen trends?
Red is big, but I would suggest bringing in popular hues with lower-priced items, such as chopping boards, trivets and oven gloves, which you can change every season. Think carefully before purchasing expensive products in fashionable colours; they may look dated in a few years. Stainless steel, on the other hand, will never be antiquated.
What is your favourite city?
In my line of work, I’m lucky enough to visit many amazing cities, such as Sydney, New York, London and Paris. But given a choice, none of these would be my number one destination. I’m far happier in open spaces where I’m surrounded by nature.
Do your research and invest in decent items – you don’t want to replace things every two years. If you’re a novice, try not to overspend. If you are an intermediate cook, buy functional, quality products. Don’t cheat yourself: aim for well-made kitchenware at the best price. ‘For your party trick, whip out a wine aerator, which allows your wine to breathe without swirling. Metrokane has a fabulous decanter that turns red wine into heaven’
‘A decent collection of knives is absolutely vital. The Robert Welch brand is excellent value for money. If you can’t afford a full set in one go, a small serrated knife, along with a 20 cm chef’s knife, will do’
Shaken and stirred
I found this virgin cocktail recipe at a Starbucks in Dubai. Throw in a few shots of vodka if you like.
- ¼ cup hot water
- ½ cup sugar
- 40g fresh mint leaves
- 1 cup cold water
- Juice of 6 lemons
- 4 mint leaves, to garnish
- Stir the sugar into the hot water until it has dissolved.
- Place the mint leaves, cold water, lemon juice and sugar water into a blender. Blend until mint leaves are chopped.
- Cool the mixture in the fridge for an hour.
- Serve in cold glasses (refrigerated for 15 minutes), topped with the extra fresh mint.