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When Home Is a Ferry Ship: An Influx From Ukraine Strains Europe

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The duty-free shop on Deck 7 of the Isabelle has been turned into a storage locker and pantry, with suitcases heaped in the perfume section and refrigerated display cases crammed with labeled grocery bags. The ship’s shuttered casino has become the go-to hangout for teenagers. And the Starlight Palace nightclub on Deck 8 is where women meet to make camouflage nets for Ukrainian soldiers back home.

“It makes me feel closer to them,” Diana Kotsenko said as she tied green, brown and maroon cloth strips onto a net strung across a metal frame, her 2-year old, Emiliia, tugging at her knees.

For the past three months, Ms. Kotsenko and her daughter have been living on the Isabelle, a 561-foot cruise ship leased by the Estonian government to temporarily house some of the more than 48,000 refugees who have arrived in this small Baltic nation since the Russians invaded Ukraine in February.

The ship, which once ferried overnight passengers between Stockholm and Riga, Latvia, is now berthed next to Terminal A in the port city of Tallinn, Estonia’s capital. Its 664 cabins house roughly 1,900 people — most of them women and children who come and go as they please through the ship’s cavernous cargo door.

The residents are a tiny fraction of the more than 6.3 million Ukrainians who have streamed into Europe. Their lot is a sign of the strains that the flood of refugees is having on countries that have mostly welcomed them.

Isabelle was leased from an Estonian shipping company, Tallink, in April for four months as an emergency shelter. But with nowhere else to put its residents, the government has extended the contract through October.

The shortage of homes for refugees is creating intense pressure across the continent and Britain. Low-cost housing is scarce, and rents are rising.

In Scotland, the government announced last month that it was pausing its program to sponsor Ukrainian refugees because of the lack of accommodations. In the Netherlands, scores of refugees have been sleeping on the grass outside an overcrowded asylum center in the village of Ter Apel. On Monday, the Dutch Council for Refugees announced plans to sue the government over shelter conditions that it said fell below the minimum legal standard.

Of all the challenges facing Ukrainians who escaped to safe havens, the most pressing is access to housing, according to a new report from the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation. The problem of finding longer-term accommodation is expected to only worsen given rising inflation, the report concluded.

“Early evidence also suggests that a lack of housing is a primary motivation for refugees to return to Ukraine, in spite of safety risks,” it said.

Governments — which were already struggling to house refugees and asylum seekers from other parts of the world — have set up emergency intake facilities, rented hotels and provided financial support to host households. But with reception centers overflowing, countries have been forced to scramble for other solutions. Schools, hostels, sports stadiums, cargo containers, tents and even cruise ships have become stopgap accommodations.

In Estonia, the government enlisted Tallink, which had leased out its ships in the past as temporary housing for construction projects, military personnel and events. One housed police officers during a Group of 7 meeting in Britain last year. Another was chartered during the global climate conference in Glasgow last fall.

The Scottish government turned to Tallink when it faced its own refugee housing crisis, and last week, the first group of Ukrainians moved into a Tallink ship docked in Edinburgh’s port.

The Netherlands, too, is using cruise ships. In April, 1,500 refugees moved into a Holland America Line vessel docked in Rotterdam. Last week, the government’s asylum agency announced that it planned to charter two additional vessels from Tallink for seven months.

The floating solutions have been greeted with skepticism or even hostility in some quarters. Before the Tallink ship arrived in Scotland, some news accounts breathlessly warned of the risks of a Covid-19 outbreak.

The Dutch government came under scorching criticism for a now-abandoned proposal to put refugees on a ship anchored off the coast in open water, making it difficult for people to come ashore.

In Tallinn, the Isabelle had been out of service because of travel restrictions since the pandemic began in 2020 before it was put to use for the refugees. Natalie Shevchenko has lived on it since April. She has searched for an apartment in town but hasn’t been able to find one she can afford.

A psychologist from Kyiv, Ms. Shevchenko has been working with mothers and children onboard, helping them adjust.

“When you live on a ship, it’s like a big community,” she said.

On a recent evening, a steady flow of people entered or left the ship after a brief pause at the security desk to scan their identification cards. On Deck 8, diners lingered over coffee in the Grand Buffet. “The food is good,” Ms. Shevchenko said. “There’s a lot of desserts, cakes and ice cream.”

In a lounge area, a dozen people sat in front of a television set watching the news from Ukraine. Cliques of chattering teenagers roamed the long decks or sprawled on chairs near the casino’s empty blackjack tables. Two floors below, near the staircase where strollers were parked, children spread out on the blue and white carpet to play games, while two giggling boys slid down a short brass banister under the watchful eyes of mothers.

Volunteers have donated toys, clothes and baby carriages, and have organized activities and excursions. On Deck 10, refugees can meet with social service workers. Bulletin boards around the ship were filled with announcements in Ukrainian about summer camp, free exhibitions, and language and culture courses. The newly named Freedom School is scheduled to start classes in Ukrainian and Estonian in the fall. Players from an Estonian soccer club came on board last weekend to lead a practice clinic.

When Ms. Shevchenko needs solitude, she escapes to one of the lower car decks. She shares a claustrophobic sixth-floor cabin and bathroom with another woman she did not previously know. The space between the beds is narrower than an airplane aisle. Bags, shoes and boxes are stuffed under the beds. A white rope crisscrosses the walls to hang laundry.

“Here’s our kitchen,” Ms. Shevchenko said, pointing with a laugh to a shelf with bottles of water and soda. A flowerpot, a gift for her recent 34th birthday from the Estonian psychologists she works with, sits on the windowsill.

“We’re lucky to have a window,” she said. Some cabins on lower decks don’t have one. It’s a problem for people who had to shelter underground in Ukraine, she said: “Some people have panic attacks.”

A few doors down is the cabin that Olga Vasilieva and her 6-year-old son share with another mother and son. The two women use the unfolded upper bunk beds to store toys, bags and snacks, and sleep with their children in the narrow beds below. Bigger cabins are reserved for families with three or more children.

One of the benefits of living with so many other families is that there are lots of children to play with. “He has so many friends,” Ms. Vasilieva said, turning to Ms. Shevchenko to translate.

Ms. Vasilieva wants to return home before the school year starts, but so far, it hasn’t been safe. Although she had two jobs in Ukraine, Ms. Vasilieva said, she doesn’t work now because she has no one to care for her son. She said she received roughly 400 euros a month from the Estonian government. About a hundred of the refugees work for Tallink, in kitchen and housekeeping positions. Others have found jobs in town.

Inna Aristova, 54, and her husband, Hryhorii Akinzhely, 64, who arrived in May after a hard trek from Melitopol, work in a laundry sorting sheets and towels. They haven’t been able to find an affordable apartment.

“I feel like a guest in this country,” Ms. Aristova said, “not home.”

Tears filled her eyes. Her most acute anxieties center on her 21-year-old son, who is in the army. She doesn’t know where he is, a security precaution, but they try to text or speak as often as possible.

“He is so young,” she said. “Every day I am thinking about him.” Ms. Shevchenko, who was translating, bent down to hug her.

In the Starlight Palace, Ms. Kotsenko and a handful of mothers and teenagers worked on the camouflage nets, cutting strips of cloth and attaching them. When finished, the cover will be sent to the Kherson region in southeastern Ukraine to hide tanks from Russian bombers.

Ms. Kotsenko also doesn’t know where her husband is stationed in Ukraine. She and her daughter escaped from the embattled city of Mykolaiv.

Another woman from the same city pulled out her phone to show Mykolaiv on a map. An animated red burst marked the spot, indicating heavy fighting.

She had just received a long text from her neighbor with a series of photos showing bloody corpses of people and dogs lying on the streets, killed by Russian shells that morning.

Some of the women Ms. Shevchenko has counseled have told her that they have decided to return to Ukraine. But, she said, what “you dream about your home” may not match the reality.

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Six years in Ankara: why I love the Turkish capital

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“What’s the best thing about Ankara?” goes a well-worn joke in Turkey about the nation’s capital. “The journey back to Istanbul.”

I have been told this roughly once a day since moving here six years ago, almost exclusively by people from Istanbul who like to sneer at what they think is a boring, artificial, bureaucratic city. But as I prepare to leave Turkey after seven years in the country, it is Ankara that I will miss the most.

My husband and I moved here in 2016 after a year in Istanbul. Straight away, I fell in love with the city centre neighbourhoods that people lovingly refer to as “old Ankara”: places such as Kavaklıdere, Ayrancı and our own neighbourhood of Gaziosmanpaşa that date back to the 1950s and 1960s.

Strolling through the quiet residential streets, I enjoy spotting Modernist metalwork balconies and the Battenberg effect of lines of houses daubed in pastel colours — especially the salmony hue that I have come to think of as “Ankara pink”.

The climate is perfect: cold and crisp in winter, hot and dry in summer. But the most beautiful time of year is May, when pungent lilac fills the air and the local “aunties” — as the older women of the neighbourhood are affectionately known — emerge from hibernation to begin a summer of taking their afternoon tea in their front gardens.

There is a real sense of community. I have accrued much joy over the years from being called Abla (big sister) by the young people here, or being told hoş geldin (welcome home) from neighbours who have noticed I’ve been away.

Ankara’s old city: the collectivism and solidarity of Turkish society is ‘eye-opening and beguiling for someone like me who grew up in the individualistic west,’ says PItel

This might all sound absurdly quaint. But it speaks of the paradoxes of my time in Turkey. The past seven years have been a time of profound political and economic turmoil and, at times, even violence. But, despite everything, I have had a deeply enriching time here, and have found it a wonderful place to live.

Part of that is, I think, thanks to Ankara, and our treasured neighbourhood, which has served as a refuge from the unforgiving news agenda. This city of around 5mn had a population in the tens of thousands when it was made the nation’s capital in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the military commander who founded the modern Turkish republic out of the ashes of the Ottoman empire. Although it has expanded massively over the past 99 years, it has managed to remain friendly, down-to-earth and liveable.

It is a cliché to say that Turkish people are warm. Hospitality towards visitors does not always translate into acceptance of foreigners. But the collectivism of Turkish society — and all the love and solidarity, questions and obligations that come with it — is eye-opening and beguiling for someone like me who grew up in the individualistic west.

Our connections deepened after our daughter was born in March last year. She became a local celebrity and, thanks to her, we built new networks of friends. People in Turkey are so kind to children — and their tired parents. Rather than being made to feel like an imposition for taking a baby to a café or restaurant, it is more likely that a waiter will take your child from your arms and whisk them off to meet the entire staff.

Pitel’s favourite ‘esnaf lokantası’, or tradesman’s canteen
Pitel’s favourite ‘esnaf lokantası’, or tradesman’s canteen

It would be remiss not to mention the food. Over the years, I have slowly built up a mental map of Ankara’s best esnaf lokantaları: tradesman’s canteens serving up homestyle stews and casseroles.

At weekends, it is a point of principle to have at least one full Turkish breakfast of olives, cucumber, cheeses and menemen: eggs scrambled together with tomato and pepper. A favourite Sunday activity is to walk up to a small café near Ankara’s old kale (fortress) and then work off a large breakfast with a browse through the antique shops or a trip to the nearby art gallery Cer Modern.

In the city’s wealthier districts, there is also a vibrant scene of independent and alternative coffee shops. For a night out with friends, few places beat Afitap, a buzzing meyhane where I have spent many happy hours eating creative renditions of Turkish meze and washing it down with plenty of rakı: Turkey’s aniseed-flavoured national drink.

For all I love about Ankara, I cannot sugarcoat the political backdrop of the past seven years. When we first arrived in Turkey, in 2015, suicide bombings were so frequent that people would seek circuitous routes through the city to avoid busy areas where they might be blown up. An attack that killed six people two weeks ago in the heart of Istanbul was an alarming echo of that era.

‘Pitel describes the colour of some buildings as ‘Ankara pink’
Pitel describes the colour of some buildings as ‘Ankara pink’

In 2016, a violent coup attempt left 250 people dead, some mown down by tanks on Ankara’s streets. In its aftermath, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan embarked on a ruthless crackdown that cast a dark cloud over the whole country.

Today, as well as facing restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly, millions of people are struggling to get by due to a collapse in the lira and annual inflation of more than 85 per cent.

I am acutely aware that, as someone paid in foreign currency, I have been largely sheltered from these savage economic conditions. My middle-class Turkish friends, meanwhile, have seen their purchasing power dramatically curtailed. The country’s poorest are increasingly facing poverty and hunger.

And yet, I find it remarkable how little the economic hardship is publicly visible. There is still almost no homelessness and little street begging — something that I think can be attributed to the strong family support networks that continue to prop up society even as it is pushed to breaking point. I continue to feel safe travelling not just around Ankara but across Turkey, often alone.

The view from the city’s old fortress
The view from Ankara’s old fortress

That is not to say that the capital is without its gritty or more edgy sides. There is a strong streak of leftwing and anti-establishment politics. A night in the stands at Ankaragücü, the city’s fiercely supported Super Lig football team, is not for the faint-hearted. In winter, in some of the most deprived districts, the air catches in your throat due to the coal still widely used by the poor to heat their homes.

Ezhel, the 31-year-old Ankaralı who has become Turkey’s most famous rapper, sums up his hometown in his 2017 song “Taste of My City” as “soot, rust, dirt, coal, plastic, garbage, tire, fumes, weed”.

While I would choose different desc­riptors, it is hard to describe Ankara as a whole as beautiful. Thoughtless development is rife. The elegant Art Deco train station, built in 1937, now sits in the shadow of a high-speed rail station that looks like a cross between a spaceship and a cruise ship. It is impossible to find aesthetic value in the Eskişehir Road, the main artery of the modern-day city lined with endless shopping malls.

This is the unattractive side of Ankara seen by daytrippers who are whisked in and out for a programme of meetings before rushing back to Istanbul, London, Berlin or Washington. They miss all the charm and verve of life here.

I love the ingenious taxi system. With thousands of push-buttons mounted on trees and lampposts across the city linked to taxi ranks, there is no need for Uber in Ankara: simply press the button and a taxi will be with you in minutes.

No Uber needed: just press the button and a taxi will arrive
No Uber needed: just press the button and a taxi will arrive

There is a vigorous trade in gossip thanks to the droves of politicians, diplomats, lobbyists and journalists living here. And the city embraces the Turkish spirit of spontaneity that allows you to set up a meeting, for business or pleasure, as little as an hour in advance. In Ankara, you can make it there on time. That is not something that can be said for Istanbul. With its population of 16mn and its unbearable traffic, the city has become increasingly unliveable.

I have long believed that it’s unnecessary to come down in favour of one or the other of Turkey’s two big cities. Each has its virtues and its flaws. I will forever love visiting Istanbul for work, tourism or fun. But it is always a joy and a relief to return to my adopted hometown. Let the Istanbullular enjoy the journey back to their sprawling megacity after coming to visit the capital. We Ankaralılar are happy to have the place to ourselves.

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How to design your kitchen like a professional chef

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It’s rare to attend a dinner party without the topic of kitchen renovations — past or forthcoming — arising. In the wake of pandemic lockdowns, demand for home remodelling boomed in the UK and the US, even as labour and materials shortages sent costs soaring. What was once a hidden-away workhorse of a room is now often our star social space. The hashtag #kitchendesign has more than 13.6mn posts on Instagram.

But the options are endless, from the positioning of ovens and sinks to the type of flooring, cabinetry and worktops — and that’s before you start on appliances. With so much choice, how do you avoid making a costly mistake? How can you redesign a kitchen that not only looks better, but works better too?

You might consider asking someone who really knows their kitchens — and who better than a professional chef?

“Chefs are exacting — as you’d expect,” says the restaurant designer Linda Turner. “They know from the hours they’ve spent in a kitchen exactly what works, and that’s what they want in their own homes.”

Turner’s work in London includes Searcys champagne bar at St Pancras station, the restaurant at the National Portrait Gallery and the Michelin-starred Wild Honey restaurant in St James’s — as well as the home kitchen of its chef and owner, Anthony Demetre.

Wild Honey’s Anthony Demetre with his beloved coffee machine, La Marzocco’s Linea Mini: ‘I’d be lost without it’

Light streams in through French doors into Demetre’s large, open-plan kitchen, which he designed when he bought the three-storey house in Ealing, west London, 10 years ago. The renovation took 18 months, “and the kitchen was the bulk of that”, he says.

The kitchen is “the heart of the house,” says Demetre. It’s where his wife and two teenage sons eat, work and relax. “It’s everything.” Along one wall sits a large range oven, with glossy black handmade zellige tiles as a splashback; grey cupboards designed and built by Turner’s company Inature surround the range, with spotlights above to illuminate the cooking. Opposite the cooker, beyond the island is a large table where the family eat at least one meal together a day.

“I’m old fashioned like that,” he says. “It’s where we come together and are social.” On the back wall a large original artwork by Jason Spivack atop a freestanding cupboard marks the start of the living zone: an alcove lined with floor-to-ceiling shelves packed with books and an L-shaped sofa opposite a fire and TV.

Skye Gyngell, founder of the Spring restaurant at Somerset House, and culinary director at Heckfield Place, a hotel in Hampshire, wanted something different for her home kitchen — even opting to move it to the front of the house. “I wanted a small, quiet kitchen that was separate from the big living area,” she says. “I don’t necessarily want to be in the kitchen my whole life.”

Skye Gyngell’s kitchen
Skye Gyngell’s tightly packed kitchen: ‘I wanted a small, quiet kitchen separate from the big living area. I don’t necessarily want to be in the kitchen my whole life’

Gyngell worked on the design with British Standard, a bespoke kitchen maker, to include an island that runs down the middle of the room — “to centre the space”. Double doors lead to a library of 1,500 cookbooks, including titles by Elizabeth David, Jane Grigson and Judy Rodgers’ The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, which Gyngell describes as “an endless source of inspiration”.

But in one respect, Gyngell’s kitchen follows the same principle as Demetre’s: a small and well thought-out “working triangle”, made up by the positioning of the sink, stove and fridge.

Unlike her vast work kitchens, her home workspace is tightly packed: the dishwasher is to the left of the sink (helpful for a left-hander who rinses before she stacks); the stove is to the left of that; the worktop is on the island behind; and a built-in fridge is a few paces away.

“The knife drawer is right next to the stove, the chopping boards close by, so I can grab everything,” says Gyngell. If you stand in a kitchen for 16-plus hours a day, you learn to conserve energy.

Even in Demetre’s larger kitchen, the sink, fridge, oven and workspaces are all within one or two steps. “You don’t want to have to waste energy walking around,” he says. “I cook at a frenetic pace, even at home.” Demetre, too, installed an island to make the triangle more compact.

Gyngell’s kitchen is low-tech: ‘I use a pestle and mortar for everything I cook at home’
Gyngell’s kitchen is low-tech: ‘I use a pestle and mortar for everything I cook at home’

Neutral tones are punctuated with bright colours and patterns
Neutral tones are punctuated with bright colours and patterns

It’s something that Turner says distinguishes a chef-client. “As an architect, I know that the placement of those key stations — the prep, cooking and wash-up areas — need to be in a triangle. Chefs know this; they are very specific about the positioning because they’re in this environment all day long.”

If you spend long hours in the kitchen, maximising the amount of light the room gets is crucial. In the kitchen of her 1920s apartment in east London, Ravneet Gill, the pastry chef and author of Sugar, I Love You, has a large domed-glass light well above the space. “It makes it such a pleasure to be in here all day,” she says, “observing the weather — or the stars — above.”

While the working triangle needs to be compact, Merlin Labron-Johnson, chef and founder of restaurants Osip and The Old Pharmacy in Bruton, Somerset, says he values the long workspaces in his rented cottage, which has herringbone-patterned white tiles running from the wooden countertops to the ceiling, reflecting the light and mirroring white cupboards below.

“Lots of workspace means you can cook anything from pastries to doughs,” he says. “I love pies in winter and homemade pasta — but for both of those, ideally, you need space to prep.”

Ravneet Gill, pastry chef and author, has lots of light in her 1920s kitchen, due to a large domed-glass light well: ‘It makes it such a pleasure to be in here all day’
Ravneet Gill, pastry chef and author, has lots of light in her 1920s kitchen, due to a large domed-glass light well: ‘It makes it such a pleasure to be in here all day’

Turner says: “Chefs tend to think more about the type of surface they want to work on from a practical point of view; they are very aware of putting down hot pans, or whether water will mark it. They know from working in a commercial kitchen about longevity.” Demetre’s island is topped with poured concrete — “brilliant for pastry and brioche as it’s very cool”, he says.

But chefs don’t always plump for the utilitarian option. “We often find chefs at home are looking for more tactile environments than the clinical, stainless-steel environments in which they work,” says Adrian Bergman, group design manager at British Standard, which has built kitchen cabinetry for Gyngell’s home and Labron-Johnson’s restaurant, as well as the home of chef Julius Roberts.

Gyngell has marble countertops to complement British Standard wooden cupboard doors and a copper sink (“I wanted a complete contrast to what I had at work”), while Labron-Johnson even opted for wooden cupboards in his professional set-up: “It mirrored the cosy, intimate space I have at home,” he says.

Buchanan Studio has designed streamlined professional kitchens for restaurants Le Bab, across London, and Wild by Tart, near Victoria train station. Its creative director Angus Buchanan and his co-founder wife Charlotte brought elements of their work into their Edwardian semi-detached house in north London. First, they wanted as few handles as possible. “Commercial kitchens do away with all the frills, there are no unnecessary handles or fiddly cupboards or drawers,” says Angus.

Gill’s stock of spices
Gill’s stock of spices

She has lots of gadgets, including an ice-cream maker, a fryer, a waffle machine and mixers: I always want the next thing’
She has lots of gadgets, including an ice-cream maker, a fryer, a waffle machine and mixers: ‘I always want the next thing’

But the Buchanans went one further and installed a stainless-steel island and working units, with matching countertops, and a huge, industrial-sized sink. They softened the look with a marble splashback behind the cooker, “something you would expect more in a residential kitchen”, says Angus.

Something many chefs take home from their training is a dedication to a clean kitchen — so the right storage is a must. “I like things extremely tidy, as I’ve found lots of chefs do,” Demetre says. “The great thing about designing a kitchen from scratch is that you can design a place for everything.”

“Everything has to go away in cupboards and drawers to create a calm kitchen,” says Gyngell. Then she adds: “Just don’t look in my drawers.”

It’s a simple trick for a home kitchen: “A clean aesthetic gives an elevated look,” says Bergman. “Some of our clients like to conceal appliances such as toasters and microwaves in larder cupboards or put them back of house if there is space for a small pantry.”

Pantries became more popular during lockdown (there are nearly 670,000 posts on Instagram about them) but even without a separate space, organised food storage is a cornerstone of good kitchen design. Gill has shelves in her cupboards labelled “vinegars”, “oils”, etc — but Demetre goes further: “I have one cupboard next to the oven dedicated to just vinegars, which I’m nuts about, and another one full of peppers, from Madagascan pink pepper to wild Cambodian pepper,” he says.


Merlin Labron-Johnson, chef and founder of Osip and The Old Pharmacy, values the long workspaces in his rented cottage
Merlin Labron-Johnson, chef and founder of Osip and The Old Pharmacy, values the long workspaces in his rented cottage

Bergman says that chefs mark themselves out by knowing the exact make of appliances they want — and needing the design to flow around them. The undisputed star of Demetre’s kitchen is his huge La Cornue range: “It’s made especially for baking, it’s almost like having a Dutch oven. It has four gas burners and an electric plancha [flat-topped griddle] on top, which is brilliant for cooking steaks and scallops.”

It is not, he admits, strictly necessary for the average home chef — Demetre has the customisable Le Château 150, which starts at €39,125, while the entry level Cornufé model starts at €6,360 +VAT — but adds that it’s important to think about your personal style of cooking, and to “spend as much as your budget will allow” on the oven.

Whether to opt for gas or electric is a divisive topic. Gyngell has a six-burner gas hob, on which she batch cooks for her week ahead. Labron-Johnson has a Smeg range oven, with six gas burners and a double electric oven below, which he says “works perfectly well”, and a Gaggenau for his home-from-home restaurant at The Old Pharmacy; “I like it as it just about meets our style of cooking, is very easy to clean and is nice and discreet.”

Gill installed an AEG oven — “you can prove your bread in there; it’s excellent” — but hates cooking on her inherited electric hob. “I will change it at some point, because cooking on gas is so much gentler and nicer,” she says.

Yet, despite his love for his oven, Demetre wishes he had opted for “half gas, half electric” burners on his hob (instead of all gas) because “I think you need a balance between the two.”

The size of the global kitchen appliance market is expected to reach $634.4bn by 2027, according to Research and Markets, an industry data source. Gill is doing her bit to get it there: two salvaged catering trolleys in her kitchen heave under an ice-cream maker, a fryer, a waffle machine, mixers and a back-up coffee machine.

“I always want the next thing,” says Gill. “I even wanted the Pacojet blender after I saw Thomas Straker using his on Instagram to make butter. But it’s over £4,000 and I’ve already got too many things.”

Gyngell, on the other hand, has a low-fi kitchen at home. “There is a Magimix and a KitchenAid in the cupboard somewhere, but I haven’t pulled them out for a long time,” she says. “I use a pestle and mortar for everything I cook at home.” Labron-Johnson is with Gyngell: “My cooking at home tends to remain very simple. I am partial to a few good Le Creuset pots; what more do you need?”

Demetre says he’s “not really a gadget man; knives are my thing” — but along with built-in speakers and a Nutribullet for smoothies, grinding spices and blending sauces, his serious gadget is his coffee machine: La Marzocco’s Linea Mini model (£2,940). “I’d be lost without it,” he says.

Stephen Morrissey, chief commercial officer at Specialty Coffee Association, says the biggest change in the espresso machine business recently is the introduction of “prosumer” machines (in this instance a portmanteau of “professional” and “consumer”): “commercial-grade equipment repackaged for home”.

He adds that, while La Marzocco pioneered the trend in coffee machines, “at the recent international trade shows every major company had home models: Victoria Arduino’s Eagle One Prima [from £4,590+VAT], Faema with the Faemina [from £4,250] and Sanremo’s new YOU machine [£5,995+VAT].”

Other companies have long focused on high-end home espresso makers, he adds, such as Sage, Rancilio and Rocket. Then there are the separate grinders, with models including Mahlkönig’s new X54 (£499) and Fiorenzato’s Allground (£750).

Just as we may fancy ourselves as top-notch baristas and imagine our dinner parties measure up to the menu at a stylish restaurant, at home, some chefs crave something more homely. Labron-Johnson says what marks him out at home, compared with work, is putting on music, opening a bottle of wine and starting a slow cook. For Gyngell, her home kitchen is a place to leave the chef whites at the door.

“I want to be like everyone else at home,” she says. “I don’t want to always be a chef.”

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In-store Black Friday shopping jumps, online records set

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Shoppers returned to stores on Black Friday, with a strong increase in brick-and-mortar foot traffic and record online shopping that shows consumers have altered their approach the busiest spending season.

In person visits to stores edged up 2.9% on Black Friday compared to last year despite decades-high inflation, according to retail analytics provider Sensormatic Solutions.

Visits to physical stores on Thanksgiving Day, moreover, leaped 19.7% from 2021, as more retailers opened their doors on Thursday than last year.

Far fewer stores are open on Thanksgiving than on Black Friday, so the surge is a bit misleading, Brian Field, senior director of global retail consulting for Sensormatic, told The Post.

“If I look at the past few seasons, when Thanksgiving Day stores were open, the mix of traffic on those days is so small compared to even a regular Thursday,” Field said.

Black Friday shoppers.
Online Black Friday sales hit a record high, with more people opted to shop for holiday deals on their smartphones than ever before.
Paul Martinka

Field added that the uptick in in-store shoppers on Black Friday is a better indicator to predict how the rest of the holiday season will go. “We’re expecting good things today and for the rest of the weekend,” he said. “Plus 2.9% is a great start to the holiday season.”

The National Retail Federation is expecting holiday sales during November and December will grow between 6% and 8% over 202 to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion. But how much of the increase will reflect inflation rather than more gifting is unclear at this point. Inflation cooled slightly in October but still registered 7.7%, pressuring cash-strapped households.

Holiday retail sales have increased an average 4.9% over the past 10 years, the NRF said, with pandemic spending in recent years accounting for considerable gains. Last year’s holiday sales grew 13.5% over 2020 and totaled $889.3 billion, shattering previous records.

In person visits to stores edged up 2.9% on Black Friday compared to last year despite decades-high inflation, according to retail analytics provider Sensormatic Solutions.
DANIEL WILLIAM MCKNIGHT

But a huge chunk of the growth is now coming from consumers who let their fingers do the shopping.

Online Black Friday sales hit a record high, with more people opted to shop for holiday deals on their smartphones than ever before.

Cyber spending on Black Friday reached $9.12 billion this year, up 2.3% from last year and topping the previous record of $9 billion in 2020, with the major drivers for this increase being electronics, toys and exercise equipment, according to Adobe Analytics.

Macys and the 34th street area was quiet for Black Friday on Friday morning after thanksgiving. (Daniel William McKnight)
A huge chunk of the growth is now coming from consumers who let their fingers do the shopping.
DANIEL WILLIAM MCKNIGHT

It was not just the amount spent online that set records this year, but also the ways in which shoppers made their purchases.

Nearly half of online sales were made via a smartphone, 48%, marking an all-time high in mobile shopping, up from 44% last year.

The data also gives insight into how shoppers are coping with inflation-driven prices, with drastic increases in the popularity of “Buy Now, Pay Later” plans.

A woman walks past a shop offering Black Friday deals in Manchester, Britain, November 26, 2022.
It was not just the amount spent online that set records this year, but also the ways in which shoppers made their purchases.
REUTERS/Phil Noble

The total number of buy now pay later orders shot up 78% last week compared to the week prior. Revenue from those orders soared 81% during the same time period.

“As Black Friday hit record spending online, we’re also seeing more prominent signs of a budget-conscious consumer this year,” Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights, said. “Shoppers are embracing the Buy Now Pay Later payment method more this year to be able to buy desired gifts for family and friends.”

Financial concerns also plagued in-store shoppers, with 42% saying that the timing of discounts and promotions will affect their shopping schedules.

“I don’t think we asked that question in other years,” Field said. “That question came out of the fact that they were saying finances were playing a big role.”

One shopper who wasn’t on the hunt for bargains was President Joe Biden, who spent an hour and a half shopping on tony Nantucket Island with the first lady, Jill Biden, his daughter, Ashley Biden, son Hunter and his wife Melissa Cohen and grandson Beau.

The first family stopped in at least nine stores for Small Business Saturday, at one point exiting luxury boutique David Chase to the cheers of a small crowd gathered outside on a windy, 46-degree afternoon. One person shouted “love you” as the Bidens crossed the street, and POTUS responded “Thank you!” as he waved to the group.

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