Paul is a renter.

He’s tried to slough off that moniker many times over the past five years, but one thing (cider making machinery), or the other (a pear orchard) has always got in the way.

In the hope that 2017 will be the year he finally puts down some foundations, he went shopping recently for a kitchen, a dream kitchen of Lotto-winning proportions, just to see what was possible. BayBuzz tagged along.

First thing to realise about kitchens is that they are fundamentally an expression of ego. And there’s two ways to go – for the Cooks or for the Looks. If you design for the cook, everything is on show, it’s practical, sturdy, and verging on restaurant grade when it comes to whiteware and appliances. A kitchen designed for the looks is branded, minimalistic, with nothing on show but an Elektra coff ee machine and one perfect aubergine.

As general manager of Yummy Fruit Paul Paynter is a practical chap. And the further we go on our quest the more apparent his penchant for peasant chic becomes.

To begin to frame our kitchen we head to FL Bone, specialists in Aga ovens, among other things. Paul sizes up the range (literally) and agrees that the “Quaker baking” aesthetic does appeal. FL Bone has been in the same family since 1885. The Aga is European, designed in the 1920s by a blind, Swedish Nobel Laureate, and popular with British cottage dwellers, and people with wild-flower borders in their kitchen gardens.

We’re just about to sign Paul up for a cream model when FL Bone’s salesman directs us to something better, and our budget for an oven shoots from $33,000 for the Aga to over $70,000 for the La Cornue. This is a French cooker made to order with copper or brass trim, gas and electric burners, a lava rock and a tepinyaki grill. The largest configuration is the Grand Palais 180 with eight burners and two ovens.

They come in a myriad of colour and trim choices and the option of having initials etched on the front. We order one in royal blue with the Paynter’s Cider crest emblazoned on the oven door. The inner oligarch is already battling the serf within!

Paul obsesses over cleaning when it comes to every appliance we consider, so when there’s a smooth surface, or you can “pull off the knobs” he gets one step closer to committing.

The oven decided, we realise that with summer heating up, the inside kitchen is only half the story. So we go looking for a BBQ. Up at Fourth Element on Karamu Road there’s a whole range of Broil King (made in Canada) BBQs. We ogle and drool and it’s only after we’ve pretend-bought a full outdoor kitchen with plenty of room for the rotisserie chickens and the rack of ribs that Paul confesses he’s a vegan. “My tofu skewers are going to look pretty silly on that thing!” he tells me.

We finally settle on a BBQ in two parts, which BBQ-mad Fourth Element main-man Ric tells us is perfect for the meat-eaters and those with “dietary requirements”. Paul falls in love. We take the two-fer (grandly titled Regal XL) for $4,000 and a ginormous pizza oven on a rotating base to add some ambience. (It’s an Esse Firestone Outdoor Wood Fired Oven at $5,000 for anyone taking notes).

Once the ovens are in we go looking for fridges. Interestingly enough the old Kiwi adage of having three fridges in the bach (one for the food, one for the fish, one for the beer) applies here too. Refrigeration is no longer a singular appliance, every fantasy kitchen needs a bank of fridges, each set for its specific task. The brand for looks is Gaggenau or Miele, neither available in any showroom in Hawke’s Bay. For space-age futurists the must-have is the Samsung Family Hub with the in-built iPad and the ability to know when you’re out of butter and order you more. But we couldn’t find one of those either in the Bay. Fridges can get up past $15,000 so when Paul fell for a bright red SMEG at $8,300, we spent the money we’d saved on a wine chiller.

The salesman at Kitchen Things explained that the trend is towards multiple choices and customisation, so if you want a specific drawer for your cavolo nero and another for your gruyere, you can have it.

Besides the hot and the cold in any kitchen, there’s the things that make it individual and specific to the owner’s life requirements. For Paul’s we consider a KitchenAid sausage maker, referencing Paul’s Hungarian wife’s cuisine d’origin, and definitely agree on a Williams Warne homebrew kit (with its staunchly Hawke’s Bay origins). We throw in a Pacojet ice cream maker just to off set the Hawke’s Bay sun.

We toss up between Wheeler handmade knives with wooden handles and Shun knives from Japan, each between $200 and $500, before Paul tells me there’s a master knife-maker working out of his wife’s own village and next time he visits he’ll pick his set up there. I wonder if the Hungarian knapper does a special cleaver for dicing seitan.

As the price points go down, the excitement revs up with Himalayan rock salt, in lump form, with its own special board and microplaner to go with the $200 pepper grinder that’s almost taller than Paul. A pair of Avanti onion glasses is a must, especially after Paul shares a nostalgic story of his teenage years spent working at McDonald’s chopping onions for hours. We also decide on a machine that spiralises carrots, a mixer specifically for cupcakes, a $4,000 Rocket coffee machine, a full set of Le Creuset from the tagine to the demitasse, an obligatory apple peeler and a dedicated scrubber for woks.

Our helpers at Total Food Equipment explain that if we are going to take this home-chef lark seriously we will also need a full wardrobe of Chef Works apron, jacket and cheese-cutter, as well as a pair of Crocs.

Perhaps it’s the outfit, or maybe it’s the lack of food to go with all these culinary necessities, but Paul has a sudden dip in blood sugar levels and has to call “time” on our fantasy shopping trip, having ‘spent’ upwards of $130,000.

One, single, solitary piece of kitchenalia makes it home to the Paynter rental: a Fackelmann spaetzle maker, so Paul’s better half can happily squeeze out her traditional nokedli dumplings. The trip’s been worth it, for that reason alone.

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