Chef-Designer Serves Up Unique Blend of
By Denise Vermeulen
LOS ANGELES, CADon Silvers, CKD, says there are two myths in the
kitchen design business that drive him absolutely crazy. Myth
number one is the need for the kitchen triangle. Second is the
notion that the functionality of the kitchen “doesn’t matter,”
since people today “aren’t cooking much anyway.”
Eager to bust these “myths” wide open, Silvers has built his
business on a client base that is very much focused on cooking. His
expertise as a professional chef and his design experience work
hand in hand to meet his clients’ needs.
Whether designing a small kitchen for a 35-ft. boat or a 4,000
sq.-ft. kitchen for a well-known television producer, Silvers says
he is serving a client who has explored many possibilities. “My
clients have been to various showrooms, they’ve been told about the
kitchen triangle, and they’ve been turned off by people who don’t
understand cooking,” he says. Silvers maintains that the kitchen
triangle often creates an inefficient workspace.
A cook’s philosophy
“Kitchen Design with Cooking in Mind” is not only a successful book
written by Silvers, but also the name of his business.
Formerly known as “Kitchens by Design,” the business’ name was too
common, Silvers decided, so he selected a name that he felt better
defines his personal expertise. In fact, he claims to be the only
certified kitchen designer and professional chef in the industry
Silvers draws on his background as a commercial kitchen designer
to create the serious cook’s kitchen. He asks customers to consider
the restaurant kitchen and its design. He asks them about their
menu, as well as how much storage space is needed for raw, frozen
and canned food.
Although the client’s kitchen will be scaled differently from
that of a restaurant, Silver says he looks at the space in the same
way. He reminds his clients that the busboy never crosses the
cook’s path in a restaurant, and that same philosophy should apply
to a residential kitchen.
Silvers’ design philosophy results in a workspace that
custom-tailored to meet a cook’s needs. Based on a thorough
analysis, Silvers makes recommendations that might include building
cabinetry a few extra inches wide, identifying the best cooktops
for a specific style of cooking, or installing separate sinks for
food preparation and clean-up.
Silvers’ California clientele has included Hollywood stars and
executives who often have a professional cook on staff.
“California offers the cutting edge of design,” notes Silvers,
who works out of
his home in Los Angeles. He adds that these kitchens tend to be
more spacious than in other parts of the country, and there is an
opportunity to utilize nature themes and natural light.
Occasionally, Silvers is called upon to create a kitchen design
for a cook who has very specific cooking needs. For instance, he
has worked with families who maintain kosher kitchens where meat
and milk products must never touch. This requires that all
equipment, utensils and cabinets be duplicated.
Get the word out
Success for Silvers meant finding his niche in the market and
identifying a specific target clientele a clientele that often
comes from his cooking classes. He lectures in cooking schools all
over the country, in classes designed for the serious, but
The art of self-promotion, however, is not lost on Silvers. He
set up an extensive Web site (donsilvers.com), which he notes gets
between 20 and 60 visits hourly.
His success has led to numerous television and print interviews.
He has published articles in national trade and special interest
magazines, as well as regional newspapers. Silvers also contracts
with a public relations agency that primarily focuses on booking
him on talk radio shows all over the U.S.
As a well-sought-after speaker, teacher and media spokesperson
in his field, Silvers plugs the importance of cooking in kitchen
design. “I’m a cook,” he says, “and I design from that point of
view.” He adds, “I don’t want to hear about the kitchen triangle
from someone who doesn’t know cooking.”
Silvers serves 15 to 20 local clients annually, and he notes
that he takes those clients completely through the project. He even
offers to cook a meal with the client at the end of the project,
providing tips on use of the space and appliances.
Silvers’ business, however, stretches clear across the country.
In addition to his regional work, he also completes 30 to 40 sets
of design plans annually for clients in other states.
So, what advice does Silvers offer CKDs who lack professional
chef experience? “Take cooking lessons and learn to cook for at
least eight people,” Silvers says emphatically. He adds, “Don’t
become a CKD unless you can cook. You don’t have to be a
professional chef just be able to cook!”
Kitchen Design With Cooking In
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
PRINCIPALS: Don Silvers, CKD and Chef
HOURS OF OPERATION: “24-hours each day”
MAJOR PRODUCT LINES: None
DESIGN SOFTWARE: None
SPECIALTIES: Designing kitchens for the client who
wants his/her kitchen to “cook well” and look good.
“I am what I purport to be: I’m a cook and I design from that point