Dinner with the Incomparable Jaime Ortiz at SkyFall

This past week, guests enjoyed the extraordinary culinary talents of Jaime Ortiz of 677 Prime at the exquisite home of Stephen and Rick Cutting-Miller, SkyFall.


Co-hosted by Continuum Wealth Advisors and Columbia Cabinets, the evening began with champagne and welcomes from Evan Levey, Stephen and Jaime.


The kitchen, designed by Justina Auer, one of Columbia Cabinets talented designers, is fitted with Brookhaven cabinetry. The coolness of the natural stone countertops in both the kitchen and pantry is warmed by the soft white pantry cabinets and rich tones of the rift cut oak kitchen cabinets. The result is an inviting sophistication…a perfect synthesis of urban chic situated in bucolic splendor.



The space worked exactly as Stephen and Rick intended. The main kitchen, bookending the magnificent great room, served as an ideal place to gather and, in this case, watch Jaime demonstrate and breakdown the evening’s recipes. The uber functional, separate chef’s pantry was the perfect venue to complete all the prep work, plating and clean-up, adjacent and convenient but out of sight and therefore not distracting.



The menu was a nod to the cooler months headed our way:




Many thanks to our gracious hosts, Stephen and Rick, and of course to the extraordinarily talented Jaime Ortiz.



Celebrate Columbus Day Weekend with a Nod to Liguria

During your holiday weekend, try making a classic Pasta with Pesto from Christopher Columbus’ hometown of Genoa in the province of Liguria.

Here’s an original documented pesto recipe dating back at least 150 years.

50g basil leaves, preferably the variety grown in Liguria and only small leaves from young plants, no stems; half cup extra virgin olive oil from Liguria; 6 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano Reggiano DOP cheese and 2 tablespoons of Pecorino DOP cheese; 2 Italian garlic cloves; 1 tablespoon pine nuts; a couple of granules of coarse salt.

Use a marble mortar and wooden pestle. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

Wash the basil leaves with cold water and dry well with a clean cloth. Crush the garlic in the mortar. Add a couple of granules of salt and crush. Add about 30 basil leaves and crush.

The oils and aroma of the basil are in the veins of the leaves, so don’t be aggressive when crushing; use a gentle, rotating motion. Keep at it, adding a few more leaves at a time and the pine nuts, again not all at once! Add the cheese, one spoon at a time, alternating with a drizzle of olive oil until you’ve included all the ingredients.

Use it as a sauce for pasta, put some into a minestrone or try it instead of a stock cube in other dishes. Variations on the theme include substituting the pine nuts with walnuts.

If you are feeling adventurous, tweak your pesto pasta in the classical style of Liguria by adding green beans & potatoes.

Open a bottle of Vermentino and enjoy!



Summer Evening of Mexican Street Foods with Ric Orlando on Saratoga Lake


Columbia Cabinets was thrilled to host a flavorful evening with Lisa and Scott Grimmett at their magnificent home overlooking Saratoga Lake. Having worked with the Grimmett’s on designing their kitchen and cabinetry, we were thrilled to receive the honor of Pinnacle Home – Best Kitchen at the 2014 Parade of Homes.

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What a fitting celebration for friends to gather and enjoy an evening learning from Ric Orlando, celebrated chef of New World Bistro Bar.


The evening began with refreshing margaritas and continued with a powerfully flavored array of Mexican street foods including:


  • The best Guacamole north of the border
  • Ceviche “Mixto”…not as frightening to prepare as I thought
  • “Green” Chicken Tacos, the new slider
  • Jicama Slaw: Jicama is a crunchy, slightly sweet root veggie native to Central America that tastes like a cross between a water chestnut and an apple. It makes amazing slaw.
  • Queso Fresco
  • Perfectly Mexican Black Beans
  • Yellow Rice


Ric explained that since these foods are powerfully flavored with acidity, spice and herbal notes, skip the big red wines and gravitate towards those bright whites like NY Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Soave and Albarino. Of course beer, margaritas or sangria are perfect to enjoy with these dishes as well.

Special thanks to Ric, Lisa, Scott and CC’s special event planner Michele and designer Mary for organizing such a memorable evening!

For some details, as well as additional pictures, of the Grimmett’s magnificent home, visit the portfolio section of our website:




Enjoy these final weeks of summer,


An Evening with Jaime Ortiz

What an extraordinary evening earlier this month! The Kuhn family graciously opened their fantastic kitchen and beautiful home to Columbia Cabinets, friends and Jaime Ortiz, corporate executive chef of Mazzone Hospitality who demonstrated/cooked a magnificent, scrumptious meal!



Senior Designer Amy Van Wie had recently finished a multi-room project for the Kuhn’s when she, and our special events coordinator Michele Weiser, thought it would be a great idea to ask Shannon and Jim if they would be willing to host a cooking event in their spectacular kitchen. The rest, as they say, is history.


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Evan Levey greeted everyone and turned the evening over to Jaime who was amazing. Funny, entertaining, informative, organized…an absolute perfect instructor chef! Friends gathered around the island to watch, learn and enjoy!



The menu was a celebration of summer:

Edamame Dumplings with a Riesling Broth

Diver Seared Scallops with a Fennel, Arugula, Orange Salad with Cauliflower Puree

Seasoned Filet Mignon, Heirloom Tomatoes with a Pebre Sauce, and Fingerling Potato Hash with Veal Glaze





Thank you Shannon and Jim, and of course Jaime, for such a memorable evening.




CRBRA Best in Building and Design Awards Announced

The CRBRA hosted a beautiful evening at the stunning EMPAC at RPI in Troy, New York  last Thursday. I am so proud that two incredibly talented Columbia Cabinets designers were recognized for their work. Justina won for Best Kitchen Design over $75,000 and for Best Bathroom Design under $40,000. Amy won for Best Bathroom Design over $40,000.



Some details and photos of the projects follow.


Best in Kitchen Design – Over $75,000
New Construction – Saratoga Springs, NY
Brookhaven I – Frameless Cabinetry
Door: Kitchen – Vista Plus and Pantry – Colony Recessed
Finish: Matte Eclipse on Oak and Alpine White Painted on Maple
Countertop: Kitchen – White Macaubus Quartzite and Pantry – Original  Soapstone
The design of Skyfall flows seamlessly, an organic journey that is magically connected to earth and sky. The central axis solidly anchors the design and it just unfolds from there. The sleekness of the interior selections, especially the kitchen cabinetry, has a very metropolitan feel which plays beautifully off the Cape Cod inspired lines of the exterior of the home. The coolness of the natural stone countertops in both the kitchen and pantry is warmed by the soft white pantry cabinets and rich tones of the rift cut oak kitchen cabinets. The result is an inviting sophistication…a perfect synthesis of urban chic situated in bucolic splendor.

New construction, in particular, allows homeowners to really prioritize what is important to them. Skyfall’s main kitchen, bookending the magnificent great room, is an ideal place to entertain long into the evening, necessitating an uber functional, separate chef’s pantry where all the prep work, cooking and clean-up takes place, out of sight.

Skyfall is a testament to refined elegance.

Kitchen over $75,000

Design-Best Bathroom Design-Over $40,000

Remodel – Troy, NY
Wood-Mode 42 – Inset Cabinetry
Door: Pavilion Raised
Finish: Vintage White
Countertop: Marble
Designer: Amy Van Wie
The ultimate spa master bathroom; fluffy white towels required!
No detail was overlooked and no shortcuts were taken in creating this oasis of tranquility that is the homeowners’ favorite room in their magnificent home. The completely custom nine foot vanity includes elegant tall wall cabinets. A tailored valance spans the entire length of the piece to cover the mood enhancing task lighting. Plenty of storage drawers and cabinets keep the magnificent marble countertop clutter free. A walk-in steam shower and spa tub complete the experience

Bath Over $40,000

Best in Bathroom Design – Under $40,000
New Construction – Halfmoon, NY
Brookhaven I – Frameless Cabinetry
Door: Bridgeport Recessed
Finish: Java on Maple
Countertop: Carrera Marble

A spa bath with a distinctive masculine touch. Plenty of drawer storage allows countertops to remain clutter free maintaining the clean angular lines of the vanity, sinks and mirrors. Plenty of natural light enhances the dark wood and the modern details of the shaker style door and square stepped toe-kick valances add classic refinement to the serene space. The eye-catching cabinetry hardware finishes the project with a bit of fun bling.


The Not-White Kitchen

Without question, over the past few years, I have designed my share of modern, clean white kitchens. Occasionally I contrast an all-white perimeter with a stunning dark wood island or sprinkle some dark upper or base cabinets into the mix. But recently clients have been asking for something different, purposefully willing themselves away from that classic all-white aesthetic. And the results can be stunning.

A few weeks ago, I was interested to see a Houzz story on Coming Over to the Dark Side and I agreed with many of their helpful suggestions. I think two elements of particular importance when designing a dark wood kitchen are light sources and contrast. Take a look at these two kitchens designed by CCW and let the journey to the dark side begin.



Pic 1

This spectacular CCW award winning kitchen balances the rich matte eclipse finish on oak with the lightness of floating shelves on the range wall, varied light sources, a cool white Macaubus Quartzite counter-top and a back-splash that echoes the dark finish but is predominantly white and beige.  The result is an inviting sophistication…a perfect synthesis of urban chic situated in bucolic splendor.

Pic 2

Comprehensive functionality intersects impeccable aesthetics in this play on a traditional kitchen. The deep mocha stain on Maple wraps the perimeter in a strong, masculine statement particularly the recessed bar area and over-sized wood hood that is finished to the ceiling. Again various light sources, the Pental Quartz counter-top and the modern pop of charcoal gray on the painted island lend equilibrium, balancing the space in a warm and inviting way.

In Search of Calm

The final stretch of winter often means frayed nerves, coughs and colds, and plain old cold weather blues. Coming home to a restorative environment can do so much to alleviate the frenzy of winter. I asked members of our design team to share their ideas of what brings a sense of calm to a home and here are a few of their suggestions:


This was the number one suggestion from everyone. No one ever associated a Zen atmosphere with stuffed closets or messy countertops. Clutter promotes a sense of chaos that is disturbing and unsettling. But de-cluttering is work and decisions need to be made. First, adopt the purging mindset. Second, decide what your criteria and benchmarks are going to be. Some folks use the “if I have not used it in a year, it’s gone” approach. A relatively new and trendy method is asking for every object in your home: “Does this give me joy?” Third, be ruthless. It’s scientific…to create more space, stuff has to go. Full stop. Remember a simplified, clean space is a calm space.

de-clutter 3

de-clutter 2

de-clutter 1


There is a proven connection between the cooler side of the color wheel and a sense of calm. So why not experiment with warm gray, heather blue or sea-glass green. Natural beiges and whites are also very effective…so go ahead…paint a wall, accessorize with new pillows or a classic wool throw or invest in new bedding.


blue 2



Work on a calming playlist and mix it up. Some classical mixed with new age, jazz and art/indie rock help create a meditative background.


Clean Windows and Candles

Lighting is so important when it comes to mood. Plenty of natural light cheers the soul, so as soon as it is warm enough, clean those windows. Nothing makes a house feel more ready for spring than glistening glass panes. And for those remaining long winter nights, candles are not only a hint of romance but also a source of tranquility. Avoid scented candles and stick with white…tea lights, votives, chunky pillars…there really is no room in your home that doesn’t benefit from candlelight.




A soft fragrance does wonders to calm stress and nothing can replace the beauty of a natural floral scent. Splurge on a flat of paper whites for a more subtle fragrance or go full out with hyacinths, a true harbinger of spring.