The Food Network recently aired a four-episode feature called the “All-Star Kitchen Makeover,” during which, chefs Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay, Alton Brown and Paula Deen redesigned kitchens for four contest winners. The episodes take viewers through each step of the renovation process from start to finish - from material selection and fabrication to the final installation. Alton Brown's Ann Arbor, MI-based contest winner, Nic Sims, received a kitchen renovated in Mountain White Vermont Danby marble from Vermont Quarries Corp. of Rutland, VT. Kitchen designer Todd Mathews assisted Alton Brown in the kitchen design.

The goal in designing the kitchen was to create more workspace for Sims, who is a personal chef and often prepares some of her client's meals at her own home. In addition to large countertop space, Brown also provided Sims with a center island butcher block for cutting and other food preparation.

“Alton designed the kitchen to have sort of a retro-feel - very slick aesthetically, but also very functional,” said Lori Stryer, the show's supervising producer. “A combination of wood as a surface, along with marble, seemed to be the ideal choice to meet her needs.”

According to Stryer, Danby marble was chosen simply because it was the ideal surface for the homeowner and family. “Not only is it the height of beauty, but it is extremely durable and functional as well,” she said. “It was perfect for the application that the homeowner and the space were calling for.”

Installation and fabrication

Vermont Quarries Corp. supplied 60 square feet of finished Mountain White Vermont Danby marble, according to Todd Robertson, who added that the producers visited the quarry in January 2005 to start filming. “We set up everything for them, from tipping a wall, trimming the blocks, gangsawing the blocks into slabs and cutting the slabs to size,” he said.

One of the company's clients, Michigan Tile & Marble of Detroit, MI, assisted in the fabrication and installation of the stonework. “They were great and really did an outstanding job,” he said.

The stonework, according to Robertson, took four men about six hours to install. “The fabricators basically templated the night before the install, fabricated that night and installed the next morning - the day of the 'big reveal' as they called it,” he said.

According to Robertson, the biggest challenge was that the total construction schedule only allotted for a one-week period. “This meant that the countertops could not be templated until the cabinets were installed,” he said. “And this was not done until there were only two days left for the project to be completed.” The only other problem the crew faced involved the tight working conditions with all the other trades involved, as well as the cameramen. “It was tricky and usual, but it all worked out in the end,” he added.

Credit Box

Private ResidenceAnn Arbor, MI

Designers: Todd Mathews and Alton Brown

Stone Supplier/Stone Quarrier: Vermont Quarries Corp., Rutland, VT

Stone Installer/Fabricator: Michigan Tile & Marble, Detroit, MI