From the time he took his domestic servant James Hemings to Paris in 1784 to learn French cookery, Thomas Jefferson made sure that his enslaved cooks were trained to prepare meals in the French manner. According to the official Monticello website dedicated to Jefferson's iconic home, Hemings passed his skills on to his brother Peter, while servants Edith Fossett and Fanny Hern received years of training from a French chef in the President's House at Washington. On Jefferson's retirement in 1809, they returned to Monticello to find a new kitchen that replaced the old one in the cellar of the South Pavilion. The site of meal preparation was now a much larger space. And, instead of preparing all the food at an intensely-hot open hearth, Edith Fossett and Fanny Hern monitored soups and sauces simmering in copper pans on a built-in stew stove like the one they had used in the President's House. Common in Europe, but relatively rare in the United States, this precursor of the kitchen range had charcoal fires in grated cast-iron openings and could be regulated more precisely than a roaring fireplace.
Fast-forward some two hundred years and it isn't surprising that when S. Prestley Blake, co-founder of Friendly's Ice Cream, decided to build a replica of Jefferson's iconic Monticello as his dream home in Somers, Connecticut, he would want only the best for the kitchen. To create the "new Monticello kitchen" two centuries after the original had been designed, Blake's chosen builder, Laplante Construction, enlisted the kitchen design expertise ofVartanian Custom Cabinets in Palmer, Massachusetts and Interior Designer Jennfier Champigny. of J Champigny Design in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. Of all the magnificent spaces in the newly built home, Blake's wife Helen says the kitchen is her favorite.
Vartanian Custom Cabinets designer Duncan Lomas worked with company owner Aram Vartanian and the team at Clarke, New England's Official Sub-Zero & Wolf Showroom and Test Kitchen, to select the best food preparation and preservation appliances available to provide a state-of-the-art kitchen for Blake's Monticello replica. The result is a stunning kitchen with unparalleled cooking performance provided by a Wolf Rangetop, Wolf Wall Ovens and Wolf Coffee System. Sub-Zero Refrigeration is found integrated into drawers and walls, all clad with magnificent cabintetry with period details manufactured by Vartanian's skilled craftsmen.
The expansive butler's pantry, which is located behind the main kitchen, includes Sub-Zero Wine Storage to provide superior temperature and humidity control for the preservation of both red and white wines.
The Monticello replica also incorporates Waterstone faucets in each section of the kitchen. These American-made faucets offer extraordinary design features and superior construction, all handcrafted in California. Below you see the pantry sink and faucet...
A Waterstone faucet and matching accessories also top the kitchen island, acting as a jewel on the quartz countertop that appears at first glance to be marble, but offers greater durability and requires much less care.
And a Waterstone pot filler mounted on the left side over the Wolf Rangetop makes filling large pots a breeze.
Thomas Jefferson, who was keenly interested in building and construction, would have surely approved of the unique kitchen features in the Blake's replica of his Monticello home. These include Sub-Zero Drawer Refrigeration and Wolf's new Built-In Coffee System. The revolutionary coffee system allows the homeowner to create perfectly brewed coffee, espresso, cappuccino, lattes, and more with just one touch including customizable water temperature, brew strength and volume settings.
Jefferson would surely have championed the idea of using American-made products from Sub-Zero, Wolf, Waterstone and Vartanian Custom Cabinets. The result is a kitchen that is both extremely contemporary in its technology and performance and charmingly traditional in its design, blending seamlessly with the home's historically accurate details. This beautiful home respectfully emulates the original Monticello, the autobiographical masterpiece designed and redesigned, built and rebuilt for more than forty years by Thomas Jefferson in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Clarke is honored to be part of this project and congratulates Laplante Construction, Vartanian Custom Cabinets and Jennifer Champigny, and the more than 70 resources they coordinated, on an exceptional job!
For more information on the appliances and faucets used in this project, or to book an appointment to discuss your monumental kitchen project, contact Clarke at 800-842-5275.