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"Try to make the food on the plate look like it's fallen off the tree," says Joanne Weir, a fourth-generation professional cook and protégée of Alice Waters. Since her five years with Waters at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Weir has written 18 cookbooks and hosted her own television show on PBS called "Weir Cooking in the Wine Country." There isn't a speck of pretension in her cheery, down-to-earth TV persona or her simple, Mediterranean-influenced recipes. The kitchen in her San Francisco Victorian is equally welcoming; in fact, when she renovated, she planned to teach cooking classes there but found that her fame made that hard to do. Now she takes American students on culinary excursions to wine countries in Europe and Australia and uses her home kitchen for recipe testing and socializing with friends.

—Susan Choung

The Kitchen

Weir created her 650-square-foot kitchen by knocking down walls between the existing space and the adjacent bedroom and dining room. From years of cooking experience, she knew exactly what she wanted: a 48-inch SubZero refrigerator, a commercial under-the-counter wine refrigerator from Marvel and a KitchenAid dishwasher with two drawers, which allow for smaller loads. She simply refinished her fir wood flooring. Below, more highlights from her kitchen.

Wood-Burning Oven

Weir wanted to be able to grill indoors on chilly San Francisco nights, so she transformed the fireplace in her dining room into a wood-burning oven with a spit. Jefferson Mack (415-550-9328), a local ironworker, designed the oven to her specifications. A one-RPM motor built into the wall moves the bicycle chains that turn the spit. "The first time I spit-roasted a chicken, it took three hours to cook," Weir recalls. "Now I use oak or almond wood. They burn hot."

Electric Oven

In addition to the gas oven in her six-burner Garland stove, Weir uses a Wolf Gourmet commercial electric-convection oven for baking because the consistent heat cooks food evenly (from $3,000; 800-366-WOLF). Above the Wolf, Weir created an open cabinet that's divided into four-inch-wide vertical slots for cookie sheets, baking pans and pot lids.

Weir's Best

Book Our favorite is Joanne Weir's More Cooking in the Wine Country.

TV Weir Cooking in the Wine Country II currently airs on PBS.

Video To order programs on videotape, call 707-575-3505.

Classes Upcoming sessions include excursions to Tuscany and the Veneto.

On-Line Schedules of TV show times and classes are on www.weircooking.com.

Sink

Weir's stainless steel undermount Elkay Gourmet sink (from $670; 630-572-3192) is an extra-deep 10 inches. She loves the commercial hose (one good brand is A&S, available from most restaurant supply stores) for its high-pressure spray and ease in filling stockpots. The "Travertine" tiles are tumbled, antiqued Italian marble from Ann Sacks ($8 to $15 per square foot; 800-278-8453).

Published October 2002
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