Get Into the Kitchen

The Coral Gables Community Foundation Showcases Some of the City’s Hottest Kitchens and Tastemakers

By Robin Shear//Photos by Ella Aire

April 2018

What happens when you bring hundreds of people to a dozen knockout kitchens and kitchen showrooms? Lots of good eating, drinking and appliance envy! The Coral Gables Community Foundation’s 9th Annual Tour of Kitchens sold a record 750 tickets this year to culinary voyeurs anxious to peek inside some of Coral Gables toniest private kitchens. 

The day-long event kicked off on a Saturday morning in February with mimosas and breakfast snacks in the showroom of presenting sponsor, Infiniti of Coral Gables. From there, participants followed a self-directed itinerary that included eight private kitchens and three designer-kitchen stores. At some of the stops, participants were given cooking lessons and demonstrations, all in the name of good food; proceeds from the event (tickets were $60 each) went toward scholarships at Coral Gables High School’s culinary academy (see sidebar). 

The Foundation’s first Tour of Kitchens, back in 2009, had about 150 people, recalls Allison Ortiz, showroom manager of Snaidero Kitchens and Design. This year, Snaidero, a tour sponsor since the beginning, hosted a cooking demo with Chef José Ramirez-Ruiz. Ramirez-Ruiz showed his white-wine-sipping students how to make his signature zucchini squash blossoms stuffed with rock shrimp. Completed samples – topped with a passion fruit sauce and plated with a nest of cucumber salad – made it clear why Ramirez-Ruiz made headlines (and earned a Michelin star) at his former tasting-menu restaurant in Brooklyn, Semilla. 

450 Valencia  

“The Coral Gables Foundation is one of the most critical things Coral Gables provides. I’m so glad I could contribute and be a part of its Tour of Kitchens,” said Venny Torre, who is in his third year as chair of the event. Torre and his wife, Coco, hosted one of the stops on the tour in their new three-story townhouse located at 450 Valencia Avenue, part of a group of residences near downtown Coral Gables developed by Torre’s company. Guests wore hospital-blue booties to protect the house’s stunning expanse of European oak flooring — a minimalist space brightened by natural light. “I like the clean airiness,” said Torre, of the large open-plan kitchen that flows effortlessly between dining room and informal seating overlooking the back patio. 

Coco and Venny Torre point out details to tour participants

While his role in the kitchen leans more toward foraging for his favorite treats in the Miele side-by-side fridge-freezer, his wife is the family culinary wizard, making good use of her induction cooktop, and convection and combi-steam ovens, all integrated into the matte-white Stosa Cucine cabinetry. A gorgeous gold-flecked gray quartz island provides ample prep space. (Styling by Pure Project Home; food by Coral Gables Senior High culinary arts academy students.) 

Antique KitchenAid mixer adds a retro look to the modern decor
European oak flooring enhances the kitchen’s grey quartz island

644 Altara 

Rustic farmhouse furniture combined with modern appliances

The home of Sidney and Monique Lazard at 644 Altara Avenue is a landmark within the Italian Village of Coral Gables. Built in 1925 by three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, the kitchen, which opens onto a fountain-lined courtyard, practically screams mangia! The Italian farmhouse vibe here is strong – from embellished hand-carved woodwork and stone-topped island to the ceiling coffer with hanging copper pans and a copper sink with oil-rubbed faucets and spout. But the appliances – a Bosch dishwasher with Fisher & Paykel dishwasher drawers, side-by-side Sub-Zeros, and Wolf cooktop, stacking double ovens and warming drawer – are anything but rustic. (Styling by Victorias Armoire; food by Ruth’s Chris Steak House.)  

A bronze sea serpent watches over the tranquil courtyard

524 Hardee 

The kitchen, with mosaic backsplash and Zephyr exhaust hood

Stuart and Bobbi Rosenberg spent over a year transforming their 1926 home at 524 Hardee Road, in the French Country Village of Coral Gables. “We even raised the ceiling,” said Stuart. Still, Bobbi wasn’t sold on the kitchen, “but my husband promised he would make it so I could cook.” Out went the dark mahogany cabinets; in came the solid white counter, all-white cabinets, two under-counter KitchenAid ovens; a Miele refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher, and induction cooktop; a Zephyr exhaust hood; and a beautiful mosaic backsplash to tie the classic French styling all together. Bobbi now has plenty of room to bake and cook for her large family. And knowing the Tour of Kitchens would aid budding chefs made her happy to participate. “It’s a great cause,” she said. (Styling by Plume; food by HouseA Town Kitchen & Bar.) 

Homeowners Stuart and Bobbi Rosenberg

3701 Toledo 

Antique treasures from Morocco, Istanbul, and Spain bring the world to 3701 Toledo Street, the 1925 home of Gary Cohn and Catalina Pérez, designed by H. George Fink, George Merrick’s cousin. They made the kitchen “completely and absolutely” the heart of the home, said Pérez. “We’re always entertaining.” 

Gary Cohn and Catalina Perez with daughter Mia Cohen

The space’s showstopper is a black and white encaustic tile flooring that Pérez, principal of the graphic design studio Inkberries, fine-tuned with her eagle eye. For the custom cabinets, which are inset with quatrefoil brass screens, she looked through almost enough shades of navy to make a movie sequel, but it paid off. “I just love that color,” she purrs. “It’s dark but happy at the same time – and it’s always elegant.” Offsetting all the drama is a simple marble countertop and matching backsplash in white. The look is complete with a stainless steel Bertazzoni range and matching exhaust hood, and a KitchenAid French door refrigerator/freezer. (Styling by Polished Coconut; food by BurgerFi.) 

The kitchen, with pattern tile flooring and KitchenAid