Christa DeMercurio Interview Part 2
Podcasts

❤️of the Home, Part 2

How do you implement commercial kitchen ideas into and old 80’s style kitchen?

🎙️I had the wonderful privilege of going live with Devanne White @_design_coach.

Take a peek inside Part 2 of our conversation where we talk about giving an old kitchen a bit of a refresh.

Teaser… We also talk food, and homemade stock might just be the underrated hero of cooking. I give Devanne a challenge to move away from canned broth to homemade chicken stock for her soup. Anyone else think homemade always tastes better?

Culinarily Yours,

👩‍🍳Christa DeMercurio (MrsChef)

Key Takeaway

Who knew that efficient lighting could be a game-changer in cooking? That nugget will have you rethinking your kitchen setup. Time for a brightness upgrade!

Quotes to Remember

Keep it Within Reach: “I try to make everything as easily accessible and findable quick, because if you can’t find it, you’re gonna get frustrated.”

Watch the Interview on YouTube

Show Notes

Devanne:
Okay, let’s talk about design. That’s my world. I love designing homes that work for you and not against you. I think that it’s so important to design your space around your lifestyle. And I’m curious how. How you design a kitchen or how your ideal kitchen is designed to support you in the kitchen as you’re cooking.

Christa:
So for us, we have a house that was built in 1969, and it was only renovated. The kitchen was renovated in 1986, approximately. And when we bought it, it’s still. We just replaced the 1986 dishwasher last year on Labor Day. That’s important.

Devanne:
Yes.

Christa:
We still have the original washing machine from 1986. We had the dishwasher from 1986. And those things are beasts. They run, they use water, they clean.

Devanne:
Yeah.

Christa:
So for me, we didn’t want to do a lot. We’re not renovating. So for me, what I’d like to do is take what I’ve got and see how can I just give it a little refresh. So that’s why I did this today in the kitchen, I wanted you to see went with yellow paint because I wanted something bright and cheerful. At the center of our home and everywhere else is stainless. We have, you can see right here, we’ve got our commercial style. It is a residential sprayer, but it is a commercial style with a commercial sprayer on it. You know, this stuff up here is all Walmart.

Christa:
You know, I do a lot of Walmart. This is Walmart back here. The lamps. Why do I have lamps in my kitchen? Well, because we can’t rewire. This is an old house. We’d have to take out walls and do things to get wiring to put in under cabinet. And I’m not savvy enough to take down undercounter lighting and plug it in and recharge it. You know, they have those rechargeable ones where you get batteries and I’m just not into the whole battery thing.

Christa:
So that’s why I have lamps in, and they are plugged in behind the refrigerators to keep the cords down and back out of the way. So what other things can you do to elevate it and give it a refresh? Give it some color, bring in a little bit of art. This is a plate that was from the ward’s event that he did, and that was kind of the inspiration for the color palette. Yeah, the yellow. I actually have us going to show you on the other side of the kitchen. You know cookbooks.

Devanne:
Yes.

Christa:
There’s a little bit of pink that’s in that plate back there that this echoes.

Devanne:
That’s the biggest cookbook I’ve ever seen.

Christa:
This thing weighs about 30 pounds, but this is the kind of stuff you learn.

Devanne:
Wow.

Christa:
A lot of information in culinary school. But, you know, another thing I did, we have. Still have this stove. I’ll turn my cameras a little bit that I think it’s about ten years old. But I took these off, and I took a can of red spray paint.

Devanne:
Oh, my gosh.

Christa:
And I made it look like the commercial wolf range.

Devanne:
Yeah, you did.

Christa:
Yeah. So that’s all it is, was just some rust oleum. I thought, you know, a pop of color. I’ve got a pop of color above the stove with those, with the pots. And, you know, probably one of the easiest things that I can recommend. When you’re cooking in a commercial kitchen, you don’t have anything behind doors. We live in kitchens where everything is closed. You have cabinets, you have doors, unless you have open shelving, which very few people do.

Christa:
And so for us, we have everything hanging. So if you see there’s some hanging right here, we have a whole wall right over here. The hells of our tongs. Because when you’re in a commercial kitchen, you can’t be digging around for stuff. Everything is within a split second. Grab it, find it. All your seasonings are right there. You know, your dishes are right here above the line.

Christa:
You’re grabbing your utensils. The only time you leave is when you go to the walk in refrigerator to get your cold items, which you should have already grabbed earlier for prep. And everything’s in dry storage. So I try to make everything as easily accessible and findable quick, because if you can’t find it, you’re gonna get frustrated. A real story this week. I’ve been very frustrated with our refrigerator because I couldn’t find anything, and the health department would have dinged us. They totally would have. I don’t know if you know, the health department can ding you for a light, a light bulb being out.

Christa:
And so what I learned this week.

Christa:
Is I was taking everything out of refrigerator, and I’m cleaning it out, and I hadn’t been taking care of it. Stuff was shoved in the back. Things weren’t labeled. Things were out of date, you know? So I’m like, going, man, the health department would really have a field day with our refrigerator. And then when I got back there, I’m like, what is this? What is this thing in the back of the fridge? And I didn’t know this. We’ve had this fridge since 2007, and I pull this piece of plastic off, and there’s supposed to be two light bulbs in the back of the fridge.

Devanne:
Oh, I didn’t know that.

Christa:
I don’t know why I didn’t know that. But they had burned out who knows how long ago. Probably years. Honey, do you have an appliance light? So he goes and grabs me one, and I plugged it in, screwed it in.

Christa:
And I went, that was it!

Christa:
That was what was frustrating me, I couldn’t see in my fridge because the light was out. And then I got some clear plexi drawers to put everything in, and with the light in the back. I love my fridge right now because I can see everything. I know where everything is because it’s clear, because it’s blue. Right. But that’s also a rule in the restaurant industry, is you have to have adequate lighting. You have to be able to see in order to, you know, stay safe, to be able to find things.

Christa:
You know, if you go into a walk in refrigerator and you’re trying to dig through ten pound boxes for something, you need to have a light on the refrigerator. So translating that to home, just turning the low light bulb on totally made a huge difference. In my own kitchen at home.

Devanne:
Yeah.

Devanne:
Lighting is so, so important, and I think many of us don’t realize the impact that it has. I think that’s an incredible story. I think, you know, if you’re not in your kitchen, you’re in your bedroom.

Devanne:
Open your blind, let the light in.

Devanne:
In the middle of the day, see how it changes the atmosphere in your home and how you feel better in your space. You can see. Yeah.

Christa:
Well, that’s why my task lighting is two lamps back here. I love those lamps because over there I can work, I can do things, because I’m not sitting there in the dark going, how much seasoning do I put on? That lighting is huge for being able to see what you’re cooking.

Devanne:
Oh, my gosh.

Devanne:
Flav says light bulb moments. So true.

Christa:
Light bulb.

Devanne:
Well, we should wrap up, but I want to know what advice you would give someone. What advice would you give someone who’s just starting out and wanting to cook more, be more confident in their kitchen?

Devanne:
Where should they work? First question.

Christa:
Well, first off, DM me. I’m serious.

Devanne:
Yeah.

Christa:
We’re looking for any, any cooking questions, even leave them in the comments below. We’ll check them out. I want to find out what people really want to learn. It’s, you know, for me, having your refrigerator organized was one of the first things because you just, you got to be able to find things. That’s huge. Have a little bit of a plan, you know, you can deviate off of it. Know what you have in your pantry.

Devanne:
Yeah. I like that.

Christa:
So the start of it is just knowing what you’ve got.

Devanne:
Yeah.

Christa:
Then we’re going to get into teaching. Okay. Now that you know what you’ve got, what can you do with it?

Devanne:
Yeah. You know, for you, you know, we can.

Christa:
We can teach you how to make pizza from scratch. You know, I would say, you know, start small. Here’s my tip. Start with a little bit of pre made stuff and add in a little bit of fresh items. So don’t try and go all in to cook everything from scratch. It’s just, it can be too much. So if you want to make pizza from scratch, go get a pre made bowbowl, but then add your own sauce and your own cheese and your own toppings to it. And then the next level will be, okay, go to Trader Joe’s or go to Winco and get a premade dough that’s still raw, it’s uncooked.

Christa:
Get that rolled out, pressed out, shaped however you want to. Stretch that out. And then put your own sauce and your cheese and your toppings and bake that. And then the next level be okay. Learn how to make pizza dough from scratch. So each time, and I’ll use, you know, pre made sauce. I love ragu homestyle. My son loves it.

Christa:
And you can do that. Or sometimes you can use cento. Canned tomatoes are fantastic to put on pizza. So again, start with, you know, a pre cooked base. Next start with a one that’s, you know, park parmade for you. It’s like is made, but it’s not baked. The next level would be to actually make your entire dough from scratch and just keep working your way up into just challenging yourself just a little bit more, adding a little more weight.

Devanne:
I love that. So much. Okay, second question. Can you come to my house and teach me how to cook sourdough?

Christa:
No.

Devanne:
You’re not into sourdough ?

Christa:
I love sourdough, but I don’t need another child to take care of my most recent. My last video I posted was a reel from a comedian, and it’s all about her, literally, her and life be completely encompassed by sourdough and her husband or children looking like, why?

Christa:
I absolutely love sourdough. I love eating sourdough. We have some fantastic artisan bakers in the area. Yeah, I would go there, but sourdough, I can teach you to make bread for.

Devanne:
I actually love the answer because I have just started eating sourdough more. I never knew how much protein was in sourdough bread, essentially.

Devanne:
Quite. So. I’ve been eating more sourdough, but I.

Devanne:
Have found some great local sourdough companies, like you said, and I’m enjoying that. But I feel all of this pressure to make my own sourdough. So I love that you said, absolutely not. It’s not worth it. Like, it’s a child. It’s a ton of work. I mean, I don’t know.

Christa:
I’m sure it’s not 2020 in it.

Devanne:
But maybe all feel the pressure to.

Devanne:
Make our own sourdough.

Christa:
Yeah. And, you know, for me, I love to make focaccia. Focaccia, basically a basic bread dough that you add olive oil to.

Devanne:
Yeah.

Christa:
And I actually use focaccia dough for my pizza.

Devanne:
Oh, that’s great.

Christa:
Yeah. So basic bread dough is just flour, salt, water, yeast. That is dough. The difference between a basic lean dough and a sourdough is the sourdough at the starter. You know, you have different things that you can use to get your bread to rise. If you have quick bread, you got baking powder, baking soda. That’s for your quick breads. For your yeast breads, you know, you use yeast.

Christa:
Sometimes you can use a little bit of beer for sourdough. You know, and there’s different levels of starters. You know, how long have they been percolating, so to speak? You know? Has it been 2 hours? Was it straight in the dough? Was it cold overnight? Was it warm overnight? There’s a lot of things. Your starter is where you manipulate the dough, so. But I don’t have the patience. I used to have the patience, but I have a child now who’s in high school.

Christa:
I just.

Christa:
I don’t have. Maybe when I’m, you know, he’s, you know, often married, and I’m, you know?

Devanne:
Yeah.

Christa:
At home by myself being, you know, depressed, I don’t know. I’ll turn to sourdough, but right now, I don’t have the time or the patience for it. I would rather go to the farmer’s market.

Devanne:
Maybe it’ll be a puppy.

Devanne:
Maybe it’ll be sourdough.

Christa:
I already have five cats and a dog.

Christa:
I’m good.

Christa:
And four chickens.

Devanne:
Oh, my gosh.

Devanne:
I love it so much.

Devanne:
Oh, well, thank you for chatting with me, Krista, and sharing your wisdom. I would actually love to, you know, if we wanted to collaborate on some type of cooking. Something I’m in, you just let me know.

Christa:
Got it.

Devanne:
I think it would be great to have you to my house and you could come and look at my kitchen and tell me the things that I could tweak and change to make it a little bit more user friendly for making large batches of food. Because my friends, some of my friends are here, and we do get together every week, and we make a lot of food for each other.

Christa:
So for us, we come.

Christa:
My husband has an italian family, so for us, that 18-20 people over, that’s a typical Sunday.

Devanne:
That’s a lot. That’s amazing.

Christa:
But again, I was a. I was an only child. We have an only child, you know, very small family. So coming into a large italian family, it was culture shock for me. But again, working those muscles.

Devanne:
That’s right.

Christa:
I can get right in there with them, and I can, you know, cook with the best of them.

Devanne:
I love it so much.

Christa:
So, before we go, what do you.

Christa:
Want to learn how to cook?

Devanne:
That’s a great question. I mean, really, sourdough is kind of on my list. I have. I feel that I’ve grown a lot as a. As a cook. I didn’t know much as a child. My mom really didn’t cook a lot. It was a lot of stuff from cans.

Devanne:
But as I grew up and had my own kitchen, I’ve really enjoyed learning how to make different things. My friends commented that I have a soup. Soup’s probably my favorite. I love to make soups. I make all different kinds of soups, and they really. I just love soup.

Christa:
You make your own stock from scratch?

Devanne:
Yeah.

Devanne:
I don’t do stock. I definitely buy.

Devanne:
I buy stock.

Devanne:
I buy pretty much anything. Tomato, a canned tomato, you know, unless I’m doing a fresh sandwich. But if it’s going in, like, a baked good or a soup, it’s canned. I don’t do any.

Christa:
All right.

Christa:
So one challenge for you for your stock. Okay. When you start with a baked chicken from Costco, Winco, whatever store you want. The rotisserie chickens use chicken for whatever you can either use in a soup. But once you pick all that meat off, save the bird.

Devanne:
Okay.

Christa:
Stick it in water, add some onions and celery, some carrots, and let it simmer and get that flavor out of that. That’s what stock is. So when you add, you know, your. Your base flavorings or your bouillon, if you can just grab a chicken and use that, and then it freezes. Like when we make a turkey at Thanksgiving, I save the turkey carcass. I dump it a pot of water. I try and get all that flavor out and then batch it up and stick it in the freezer. So we’ve got turkey stock that’s, you know, throughout the year because big birds make big amounts of stock.

Devanne:
Mm hmm. Wow, that’s so smart.

Devanne:
I was going to ask if you could just save it because.

Christa:
Yeah, yeah, that’s so.

Christa:
Yeah, just freeze it, put it in an airtight container, seal it up, and save it. And then I just let it thaw out, add it to your soup, and sometimes you can still season it with a little more chicken base, but at least start with that real, true flavor.

Devanne:
Yeah. Okay.

Devanne:
That is my challenge.

Devanne:
I accept. All right.

Christa:
Go buy a bird.

Devanne:
Okay. Well, thanks, Christa. I’ll put, like. I’m gonna put this in my story. I’ll link to your profile so my.

Devanne:
Friends can find you. Beautiful. And thank you so much for chatting.

Devanne:
This is so fun.

Christa:
You’re welcome. I’m looking forward to the next time.

Devanne:
Yes, indeed. All right.

Christa:
Bye, friend. Bye.