Chicago-based celebrity toque Jaime Laurita walks us through his jaw-dropping Bucktown kitchen redesign.
The reno’s biggest fans? Laurita’s pups, Woody and Ted, absolutely approve of the new environs.
You've likely heard his name before—renowned celebrity chef and designer extraordinaire Jaime Laurita (whose past A-list clients include the likes of Madonna, Aerosmith and the Red Hot Chili Peppers) famously guest-starred alongside sister Caroline Manzo on the hit Bravo show The Real Housewives of New Jersey, which featured his wedding in the Chicago suburbs. Now, the talented tastemaker resides in a Bucktown home with his husband, Rich Lane, and two dogs, Woody and Ted. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America; co-author of Sarah McLachlan's cookbook, Plenty; brand ambassador for Viking appliances; and showroom designer for Middleby Residential, Laurita fittingly created and oversaw the remodel for his ultimate dream kitchen himself, while collaborating with Hermin Ohanian from BauTeam Chicago with the cabinet design and layout.
Laurita’s pride and joy: the Viking 7 Series range features 23,000 BTU elevated surface burners combined with a fully featured convection oven.
The desired aesthetic? “A sexy yet inviting food laboratory,” explains Laurita. “Because I am so passionate about food and design, I wanted to serve myself and my friends something unique and luxurious yet organic and real.” Laurita’s main must-haves included Viking appliances, saying of the brand, “They were first to come to market with a commercial range for the residential realm and are simply the best out there, especially now.”
The sophisticated finished look
Starting an all-encompassing project during a pandemic is not without its conundrums: From masked strangers constantly in and out to social distancing rules and longer lead times than previously quoted, Laurita found himself living without a kitchen at all—a far cry from his typical day to day. The chef quips, “Thankful for my Brava oven that kept me cooking, but my poor dogs were over it!” However, the final product was worth the pesky predicament, with Laurita acknowledging, “We made it through the dust, dirt and noise at the end of the day.”
Select Surfaces installed Dekton wall stone that pops with bright white countertops and custom cabinets.
High-end appliances abound throughout the space, from the Galley workstation sink to the U-Line wine chiller to the Viking professional nugget ice maker that Laurita dubs “insane.” His favorite piece? “For sure it’s my Viking 7 Series 36-inch range in white. I named her Madonna Sue. I have my reasons—Madonna was my ex-boss, or my ‘Madame X’ boss I should say,” he jokes. On the walls, Select Surfaces installed Laurent by Dekton, a solid matte stone material mixed with cement-styled cabinetry by BauTeam Chicago, creating what Laurita calls “a gourmet cave of sorts.” Chrome banding and matte white Uyuni Dekton countertops add further intrigue to the unique look. “I like different and to take risks,” Laurita notes. “I let my freak flag fly here. After all, if you know me, you know boring doesn’t cut it.”
A Galley workstation sink is a must-have for effortless hosting.
It’s safe to say Laurita is in love. “My feelings about the design will be evergreen. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not elevated and grateful,” he admits. “All I can say is that this outcome delivers all the feels. I hope it makes you feel the love. That’s what it’s all about.”
Laurita opted for an undercounter Viking ice maker and beverage center.