Recipe for harmony

PHOTO: Recipe for harmony

You have heard of his-and-hers bathrooms, even his-and-hers wardrobes. But what about his-and-hers kitchens?

That is the solution that Chef Julien Bompard, 43, and his wife Edith Lai, 41, came up with when they moved into their 1,400 sq ft apartment in Cherry Avenue seven years ago.

To create two kitchens to accommodate their different cooking styles, they removed the walls of one of three bedrooms. The kitchens are separated by a small corridor.

Chef Bompard says: "The agent who sold the place to us said it would be difficult to sell it next time. But it's how we like to use our space and we want to be happy living here."

Each kitchen has been configured to suit their different cooking styles.

For example, the countertops and stove in Chef Bompard's sleek black kitchen are higher than normal to accommodate his 1.8m height. The 150 sq ft space is kitted out in De Dietrich appliances as he is one of its brand ambassadors here. He also uses an induction hob to cook.

His wife's side, a 100 sq ft kitchen, is more traditional-looking, with stoves and shelves in semi-frosted glass.

Ms Lai, who also has an induction hob and multi-functional oven from De Dietrich, says: "I boil a lot of soups and fry a lot. I'm very Asian that way... I like to see the flames when I'm cooking but Julien believes in having no gas."

The couple, who do not have children, ran high-end French restaurant Le Saint Julien until it closed at the end of January this year. They now run a gourmet food-catering business and are relishing their better working hours.

This includes having more time to cook at home, which they do every day, and entertaining friends more regularly on weekends.

They also designed their kitchens to have an open concept. Guests can sit at a bar counter with stools or at their six-seater dining table. Ms Lai explains: "It's not like in the restaurant, where it is closed off. Here, we can entertain our friends and cook at the same time."

Chef Bompard adds: "The kitchen must be part of the living room. It is nice when the house smells of good food."

He sticks to French cuisine while Ms Lai, who used to be in hotel management, dishes up Asian fare. She picked up her cooking skills from her mother and grandmother.

Their home is also filled with their other loves. For Chef Bompard, that would be his "toys" in his game room - a full Xbox video game console, complete with a racing driver's seat for car-racing games.

The chef, who go-karts in Jurong on weekends, says: "I really started getting into racing when the F1 came to Singapore. Now I'm obsessed with fast cars."

He drives a vintage 1982 Ferrari GTB, while his wife has a Mini Cooper.

As for Ms Lai, her love for cats is apparent.

The couple have three which roam freely in their outdoor terrace. A cat flap has been carved out of the balcony glass door so they can go outdoors whenever they want. Cat knick-knacks, which have been given to Ms Lai by friends, line shelves in a display cabinet.

Chef Bompard says: "For 25 years, we were working day and night, six days a week. It's a big change for us to be home before 6pm but we're happy with it."

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