When I moved into the bungalow downtown, I fell in love with the eat-in kitchen. The only thing I could find wrong was the large amount of space in the center of the kitchen, an area just begging for a kitchen island. Without an island there, I had the perfect space for a kitchen dance party. Don't get me wrong, spontaneous kitchen dance party is one of my all-time favorite things. My friend Christy and I do the Carolina Shag to the Fifth Dimension's "Marry Me Bill." It brings down the house every time. Needless to say, I put away my tap shoes and went in search of a kitchen island.
I wanted something different, something clean, something easy to maintain, something functional, and something that wasn't going to break the bank. Once again, like I always say, what's the fun in sinking so much money into your home that you can't afford to have any friends over? I found my long laundry list in the stainless steel prep table. First off, I'm a Top Chef fanatic and wannabe. I need to start learning how to make things into a foam and start turning out dishes that involve an "emulsion of fennel bulb, blood orange puree, and a reduction of caramelized fig, with a marscapone demi-glace." Sure, sounds good. The stainless steel prep table is what you see running down the middle and sides of every restaurant kitchen, and hell, every high school cafeteria, and there's good reason for it. Not only do I love the clean, simple, modern look of the stainless steel, but it's sturdy, it's super easy to clean (you literally wipe it down, and then give it a spray with a can of stainless steel cleaner, available in any grocery store, typically to clean stainless steel fridges), and being that it's stainless steel and meant for an industrial kitchen, I can literally take a hot dish from the oven and sit it on the surface. If the surface is clean, you can cut your ingredients right on top, and trust me, the more it gets scratched up, the better it looks (and it's going to get scratched up...it's always a matter of getting past the first scratch.) When I first got the stainless island, it was perfect. My ex-boyfriend at the time came in and threw his keys on it 10 minutes after I pulled the protective plastic off of it, making one singular scratch. You would have thought he poured bleach on my rose garden, I was so mad (that's not why we broke up, I promise I'm not that difficult to live with). Anywho, you get past that first scratch, remember that's why you went industrial in the first place, and you rock it out like any good Chef or Sous Chef. The bottom shelf is galvanized steel and the perfect place to store extra goods like small appliances, wine, cookbooks, etc.
I was able to order my table from Charlottesville Restaurant Supply Company, a local distributor that has since moved to only online sales (http://www.cvillerestaurantsupply.com/) If you visit their website, the little cartoon french fry guy says to even call them for the best deals on stainless steel prep tables. Good to know. (Don't worry if your town doesn't have a Restaurant Supply Company or distributor, most places will have to order your table regardless. Try online vendors like http://www.webstaurantstore.com/. However, I was able to get my stainless steel prep table (giving me an additional 4 ft long x 2.5 wide feet of counter space) for $200.00 including shipping. While 200 smackeroos isn't couch change, think of what you'd pay to have a real island installed? Ok. The best part? You can get these tables in various sizes, ranging from small 2ft. x 2ft. square tables to ones that could literally run the length of a restaurant. It's perfect, because it's being used for it's exact purpose. If it can withstand the prep line in a gourmet kitchen, I'm sure it can withstand my small kitchen calamities. It's a great option for any renter, or just anyone who wants something a little different. When you move out, you can take it with you, or leave it with the house. Or, if you don't think it's going to work in your next kitchen, use it as a work table in the garage or basement. If you have kids, they'll have a blast playing on it with magnets (and if you don't have kids, you can still play with magnets, or leave yourself a note/grocery list.) Maybe you aren't ready to put in the permanent island, but you crave the counter space, and also don't want to buy the butcher block rolling cart from the chain store. Consider this cost-saving, functional design tip.
Remember, no man's an island, but a prep table can be.
Image Lifted from www.webrestaurantstore.com