**VIEW GALLERY » **Credit: Noah Fecks
Michael Chernow, co-owner of New York City's Meatball Shop restaurants, grew up in a tiny apartment with a tiny kitchen. "The whole apartment was 650 square feet," he recalls. "It was my mom, my dad, my two sisters, my two cats, and me." Still, his mother was always cooking: grilled cheese with tomato, chicken cutlets, roasted rosemary potatoes, string beans. The experience taught Chernow the extraordinary culinary efficiency of a small kitchen, where every appliance and ingredient is a reach or a pivot away.
That's part of why he loves his current kitchen: "It's incredibly, incredibly functional," Chernow explains of the U-shaped countertops, which face into a light-drenched living space. "It works really well for entertaining, but it works especially well for cooking." Between his own kitchen activity (right now he's feeling inspired about vegetable soups, and he makes a mean stuffed French toast) and his wife Donna's baking, the kitchen gets plenty of opportunity to prove its usefulness.