April 19, 2006 News & Features » Cover Story

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Burner Envy 

Behind the Scene at Can Can Brasserie.

If cooking can be drudgery and cleaning even worse, here's an antidote: Chris Ripp's dream kitchen in Carytown, a $650,000 showpiece of imported tiles, designer lighting and all sorts of gadgets to keep the space clean and responsive.

This isn't a kitchen. It's a 3,400-square-foot, four-room nerve center — a cellar prep kitchen for stocks, sauces and fresh foods; a serving kitchen where meats and fish are grilled and each order is plated; a bread bakery for some 300 loaves a day with the capacity to double that number; and a pastry room that doubles as a private chef's kitchen for wine dinners and parties.

David Bethel of FDI in Newport News assisted Can Can co-owner Ripp and project manager Walter Garde in the kitchen design and the eight-month installation. "This was a personal dream for Chris," Garde says of Ripp's passion for the project. "He's lived in France and this has been in his head for years. He's worked with star chefs and done a lot of research. He knew what he wanted."

Ripp wanted ambience for cooks and servers — yellow wall tiles and a checkerboard floor — and custom-crafted fittings by Old Dominion Metals that tie together sleek walls of appliances. Ripp designed a see-through panel at the serving line in order to print off and post the chits for each order while supervising cooks on the line.

And he wanted the space to be polished and efficient; the restaurant is open from breakfast to last call every day, so his staff is cranking at all hours. S

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