Canelé chef Corina Weibel’s home kitchen
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In Corina Weibel’s kitchen, there are no secrets. It’s no secret that Weibel takes no shortcuts: There’s no dishwasher or food processor, but there are three mortar and pestles that she actually uses and rows of glass jars holding dried beans and grains, vinegars and spices.
It’s no secret that Weibel, chef and co-owner of the Atwater Village restaurant Canelé, starts most days with oatmeal and café au lait: Check out the five stove top espresso makers, some with bottoms blackened by use. And there are half a dozen McCann’s Irish oatmeal canisters.
And it’s no secret that this roughly 6-by-8-foot sunlit room with a shortage of counter space is the kitchen of a real cook: Her favorite steel saute pan, as seasoned as it gets, sits on a burner of one of the few upscale notes in the room: her Wolf range with its iconic red dials and wolf’s head logo plate. Surrounding the range, cotton towels and aprons hang on S-hooks; rubber scrapers, ladles and wooden spoons are at the ready.
In Weibel’s kitchen, all but the cleaning supplies are out in the open.
Her house sits halfway up a heart-challenging Silver Lake hill. Weibel, who was catering at the time, bought it seven years ago, moving from a nearby rental. After she moved in and made some necessary changes, she didn’t have much of a budget for a cosmetic redo of the kitchen.
She ripped out ratty cupboard doors, including lower ones destroyed by a previous owner’s pit bull. What she calls cheap drywall came down, revealing an insect infestation. She played off the range details by painting red walls (also the color of the toaster and teapot). And she covered the chipped and discolored linoleum with a hunter green cotton rug. “It’s the irony of my life,” she jokes — a restaurant chef with a make-do home kitchen.
But she makes do quite well, giving dinner parties for as many as 50 or 60 friends, who spill out to the backyard, which is home to the chickens Dolly, Madison and Chanel. (She says she always makes extra oatmeal, for them.)
She’s never owned a dishwasher, and her guests often help to cook and clean up after a meal. “It becomes that social thing. Rarely do I have to do it myself,” she says.
In the cupboards there are olives, anchovies, garlic and capers, and a dozen kinds of tea in metal boxes. And sharing space with the wine and martini glasses are several shapes of dried pasta from her favorite brand, Maestri Pastai. “If you have all that in the house, you can make a meal,” says Weibel, a onetime commodities trader. But she sometimes worries her guests might raise an eyebrow. She imagines them saying: “Oh, my God. She has a restaurant, and she just threw together pasta and garlic.”
Her Wolf is her favorite thing in the room, she says. Her friends pitched in for it as a housewarming gift. “It’s never let me down,” she says. “I love the way it looks — kind of industrial.”
Weibel also put up steel shelves. And she has long owned a pale wooden bar on wheels that she’s moved all over the country. Here it does double duty, dividing the kitchen from the living room. On top is a small cutting board, a Spanish casserole dish and a plate holding a couple of peaches.
Her big refrigerator has gone to the restaurant, replaced by an unremarkable white one next to the back door and covered in those little poetry magnets. Her cookbooks include “The James Beard Cookbook,” “From Julia Child’s Kitchen,” an old Betty Crocker and Anthony Bourdain’s food and travel journal “No Reservations.”
A double farm sink sits under a window with a frame that’s seen better days, but your eyes are drawn instead to a great view of the reservoir down the hill, seen through wind chimes made from a whisk, fork, spoon and cookie cutters.
One day, she says, she’d like a new floor, and a wooden counter top to replace the old and broken white and gold tiles. But it’s not likely to happen soon. Over the sink is a little tray holding a three-legged clay pig, a Mexican charm to bring good fortune. “I’m still waiting,” she says, then adding after a moment, “I guess fortune doesn’t have to mean money.”
-- Mary MacVean
This article is part of ‘Mission: Kitchen,’ a series of chef’s kitchen profiles, consumers guides and product reviews that will run weekly on L.A. at Home through the holidays. Suggestions for future story subjects: email@example.com.