Of The Patriot-News

Many good meals have come out of Betsy and Jan Rumberger’s kitchen.

Their own dinners, certainly, and the meals made for guests — but also the benefit dinners done by many hands making good food, working at once in the dream kitchen that Jan designed.

“I can easily have four people working in this kitchen without getting in each other’s way,” said Rumberger. “We’ve had three chefs cooking here at one time for charity dinners that we’ve done.”

Rumberger is the founder of the gourmet group Guys Who Cook, and the man who conceived the idea for Harrisburg’s charitable wine auction, Très Bonne Année, which raises hundreds of thousand of dollars annually.

The kitchen of their home in Sterling Glen, Silver Spring Twp., is designed to accommodate the hard, hot work of professional cooking in a space about 20 by 24 feet, twice the size of many restaurant kitchens.

Counters are granite, and splash walls are ceramic tile.

“The builder wanted to put in white tiles and white grout, and I said, ‘No way.’ I actually use this kitchen. If you are one of those people who never use their kitchen, fine, but I’m putting in tiles that look distressed and used and old, something that reminded me of Italian walls.

“I put in a darker grout, otherwise in two weeks the place would have looked filthy,” he said.

Above the tile, oversize birch cabinets rise in a pickled, blackened wood with cityscape styling that has individual cabinets topping out at different heights.

“I just made the color up. They were making samples and I just kept saying, ‘add more green.’ I wanted something different. I didn’t want brown. Then they put a black glaze on it to make it dark.

“On the center island, they took color from the walls and put a black glaze on it. That was one of their suggestions, to not have all the cabinets the same color,” Rumberger said.

The island has a Gaggeneau deep fryer, an induction wok, two refrigerator drawers for vegetables, a stainless steel prep sink, spice drawers, cutting boards and space for bowls and baking racks.

“I tried to lay out the kitchen so every area has a purpose,” he said. “Every station has all the things laid out the way you would use it — so all the stuff I have for baking, things you would put in an oven, bowls for mixing, racks for trays, it’s right where you use it.

“There’s a beverage area, with glassware, wine and everything you need for the table, which is close to where you’re serving your guests so you can prepare drinks.”

The other guideline was space. On all sides of the island are aisles 4 feet wide.

“I set it up so there is plenty of space to open doors and walk around. You’re not opening the oven door and sidling by.”

Baking goes on in a Wolf double oven at waist height.

“It’s one of the best products,” he said. “It has no exposed burner, lots of racks. You could sit on these doors. I think Wolf makes some of the best cooking equipment. They’re on the West coast. If you had a Viking stove here, you’d have Wolf there.”

Past an expanse of granite countertop a few steps from the oven is a warming oven set below the counter. It’s for heating plates and holding finished dishes. “A plate warmer, a food warmer is a huge asset in the kitchen,” he said, “because you can’t ever time everything perfectly.”

At an unexpected height beside it is a four-burner Thermador cooktop with a griddle in the middle.

“A suggestion someone gave me was to stand in my bare feet and hold a saute pan, and let it rest where it’s most comfortable. That’s the height your cooktop should be.

“I can’t tell you how much difference those few inches make. It’s amazing.”

The exhaust fan above is mounted in the roof of the two-story house, so it works silently instead of sounding like a 747 taking off.

In the corner is a second prep sink with counter space on either side, and then a double-drawer Fisher-Paykel dishwasher.

“It’s a single unit, but it has two independent operating drawers,” he said. “It’s wonderful for one or two people in a household because you’re not running a whole giant dishwasher.

“I know couples who have these who never put dishes away. They put dirty dishes in one drawer, take clean ones from the other,” Rumberger said. The microwave is beside that, and both are handy to the serving counter above, where guests can sit and talk with the cook. “It’s a great kitchen to be able to work in and converse with your guests. They can wander in and watch us cook. If it’s ‘How do you make foie gras? I’ve never seen that,’ I can do a little cooking demonstration. It’s as much fun as making the food.”

Across the aisle from the dishwasher is the climate-controlled wine cabinet and the GE Monogram side-by-side fridge and freezer, the ice maker and cabinets.

“Because there wasn’t a lot of sunlight in here, I put glass fronts with backlighting so there wasn’t a solid sea of cabinet. I used a smoky distressed glass; otherwise it would have looked too industrial,” he said.

Finishing the room is about 100 cubic feet of pantry with slide-out shelves.

The kitchen design stops there. Almost.

“I have a mirror kitchen on the outside, for all the things you would prefer not to do in your house, like smoking or rotisserie grilling.”

PAT CARROLL : 255-8149 or


Suppliers Web sites for products mentioned

* Heirloom Cabinetry of Mifflintown —

*Wolf double oven – ovens.asp

* Thermador gas cooktop –http://

* Fisher Paykel two-drawer dishwasher – global/kitchen-products/dishwashing

* GE Microwave –

* GE refrigerator –

* Gaggeneau deep fryer –

* Source for all these brands —


1 Response to “Dream Kitchen”

  1. November 18, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    Hi, there!..c4162a5d58be46883973ec1ef0d7e3e0

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In culinary school and getting ready to trade the writing life for the cooking life. Or not. Might do both. At the moment I'm a feature writer for The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. My name is Pat Carroll.

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