They met over food, work with food and socialize around food. So when Sarasota chef Paul Mattison and Sheryl Vieiria began remodeling the house they recently purchased near the Siesta Key bridge, the kitchen naturally became the focal point. With soft lighting, state-of-the art conveniences and gleaming hardwood floors, the couple has created a space that's as perfect for unwinding over an intimate bottle of wine as it is for filming Mattison's popular television cooking show, "What's Cooking with Chef Paul."
Space-lots of it-was an important consideration. Mattison, who founded Sarasota Bread Co and co-owns and operates Mattison's: An American Bistro in St. Petersburg, is the one who cooks for a living, but Vieiria, a marketing whiz who numbers the chef among her clients, also enjoys whipping up delectable sauces for the fish and pastas she loves. And she makes a mean French toast on Sunday mornings. So having an area where both (who get along so well that they even share a home office) could cook was important. Because the couple entertains frequently, it was important to them to have a large, open area where friends and family can gather.
"Everyone ends up in the kitchen, anyway," Mattison says with a smile.
When they bought the house, the kitchen was smack in the middle of the honeycomb of little rooms that comprised the 1955 structure. "It was silly," Mattison says. So, with the help of Dave Platt of D.R. Platt Construction, they broke down the walls, turning a dining room, living room and two bedrooms into a kitchen and breakfast nook that occupies one end of the L-shaped house and overlooks the pool and garden through huge windows and French doors.
The gas range, grill and a prep sink are on the massive five-by-10-foot island, facing the living room, lanai and pool. This makes it easier to film Mattison's cooking show as well as to carry on conversations with guests. Actually, the couple toyed with the idea of including a piano in the design and bringing the concept of a piano bar into their kitchen, but when that proved logistically impossible, they decided that gathering around a bubbling pot of something would work just as well.
Lou Pompei of Designer Marble and Granite fitted the island and countertops, both granite with numerous shelves and cupboards for easy access to Mattison's tools; one pull-out cabinet contains the trashcan, and a circular opening cleverly hidden by a decorative plate means you can slide things into the trash without having to open the cabinet. A narrow cabinet is fitted with a rack for cutting boards.
Mattison's grandmother was Italian, and he takes cooking groups to Tuscany each year, so he wanted to infuse some Old -World charm into his home kitchen. Faux finishing in cream and bronze by Sabrina Harris, owner of Art & Whimsy, textured walls, rounded moldings and honey-golden hardwood floors lend a European ambience to the area. Stainless-steel appliances from Mullets Appliance-refrigerator with wide rather than deep shelves, oven and separate beverage cooler in the aquarium-decorated bar area-are discreetly tucked into Greg Giradini's mahogany-stained woodwork, and a 12-shelf rack holds the couple's wine selections. Eventually, the rack will move into its own home inside the thyme-colored pantry, which Mattison plans to install with cooling features to create a wine cellar.
"It's got flow, it's got energy, it's got warmth," Mattison says, perched on a chair in the breakfast nook. "And it's designed to entertain."