Where We Cook

A photo essay of everyday kitchens

Kitchens are the heart of the home—the keeper of our heritage and the place where new traditions come to life. It’s where lives intersect and love is shown through the simple act of cooking. While today’s food culture would have you believe you need a well-appointed kitchen, perfectly executed prep, and professionally staged dishes, we believe that some of the most incredible meals originate from the most ordinary places. So we sent our photographers out to prove it. And they captured the beauty found in everyday kitchens and the people who use them.


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A kitchen table overloaded with papers waiting to be recycled is the only sign of disorder in Sue Briers’ otherwise meticulous kitchen and home, which her brother built for her and her husband in 1960. The house, in fact, has two kitchens. The second is in the basement, where she does her canning. “This is the room I like to work in,” she says of her kitchen, where she makes a rhubarb dish often requested by her bridge club. She harvests the rhubarb, a gift from a neighbor when she moved in, from her modest home garden. – Clarissa Westmeyer


Jessica Lofthus’s 110-year-old kitchen in Akron projects her heart and soul. The brightly painted walls are a nod to the colourful Southwest kitchens she grew up in, where her mom roasted peppers and made enchilada sauce. Her refrigerator is covered with photos of smiling faces—a tribute for her husband to cheer him up after a friend passed away. And she made her own spice racks and curtains to create a space that would inspire her to cook nourishing meals that feed her soul. – Shane Wynn


Roommates Fay Walker, Ben Keeshin, Emma Keeshin, and Courtney Kishbaugh cook together most evenings, discovering ways to use the fruits and veggies they get from their weekly Fresh Fork share in adapted versions of their family recipes. “Usually at least one of us will know how to cook something even if the others have never seen it (though kohlrabi stumped us). It’s fun to discover how other people use food, or even utensils,” says Fay. “I’m a recent convert to tongs over spatulas, and I only recently discovered that not everyone keeps their pots and pans in the oven.” – Molly Nook


Nadine Casey, who lives next door to her childhood home in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood, is the center of her family’s universe most Sundays. Not only is she the only one with the NFL channel, but she’s also an accomplished cook and a joyful hostess. The family was shaken to its core last May with the loss of Nadine’s grandson, 19-yearold Diamond Russell. Their closeness and faith are obvious when they gather. Dinner preparations begin on Wednesdays and continue with prep on Saturdays so she can finish up the meal served after church each Sunday. – Karin McKenna


Flora and Enrico moved with their five daughters from the Philippines to Cleveland in 1991. Twenty-five years later, they still cook the flavorful and healthy meals—like sinigang—from their homeland at least three times a week. They use the pots and pans they brought with them when they emigrated. The girls, now scattered across the U.S., adore their parents. “The food coming out of the kitchen is made with love,” they say. – Karin McKenna


“Mine is not a dream kitchen,” admits Steve Corso. “I eke out stained counter space among gurgling crocks and carboys, bowls of farm harvest, bottles of dark infusions, and bread crumbs. Cabinetry won’t stay closed, ill-fitting drawers don’t open. Shabby vinyl flooring and a non-functional stove hood match the floral print wallpaper, which we swore we’d replace when we bought the house. But when the girls bake cookies and the kitchen becomes warm and sweet, I know we’re all safely and happily home.” – Matthew Conners


Lucas Rhoades, Josiah Hull, and their Chesapeake Bay retriever, Lumen, are in full renovation mode. The previous owners of their Cleveland Heights home had plastered over every window and painted the kitchen walls dark red. Finding the design too claustrophobic, they’ve exposed the original windows and opened the kitchen to the dining room. During construction, they cook using a small electric skillet, an outdoor grill, and the only item they insist that they need—a coffeemaker. They hope to have the new kitchen completed before Christmas. – Clarissa Westmeyer


When she found out a grandchild was on the way, Carolyn Watilo moved across the country and downsized into a condominium in Rocky River. The small kitchen isn’t ideal, but there’s enough room to share family traditions with Kinley. “I learned how to make peanut butter cookies with a cookbook my grandmother gave me,” Watilo says. “I made them with my grandmother and mother, and now I can share the tradition with my new granddaughter.” – Laura Watilo Blake