Building Relationships

If you haven’t heard of Signature Kitchen Suite yet, you will. This new, innovative luxury brand is changing the way we approach our kitchens and how we cook in them: one Technicurean® at a time.

A glimpse into the Signature Kitchen Suite Experience and Design Center in Napa, CA

A glimpse into the Signature Kitchen Suite Experience and Design Center in Napa, CA

Zach Elkin, General Manager of Signature Kitchen Suite

Zach Elkin, General Manager of Signature Kitchen Suite

Zach Elkin, General Manager of Signature Kitchen Suite, loves to ask lots of questions, then he actually listens to your answers. It’s not enough that you love to cook, why do you love to cook? How do you cook? When do you cook? The questions are endless, and the results are mind-blowing. Everyone who knows this Lifestylist® knows I have an opinion, and what I love is Zach not only pays attention to what I say, he understands what I want or need even when I don’t.

I’ve known this man for a long time, back to when we were both very involved with the National Association of Homebuilders and their National Membership Day. He was with a company that sponsored this significant day, and I was there representing the National Sales and Marketing Council. Even though I didn’t know a soul, he made me feel so comfortable and part of this compelling group of mostly men. We kept in touch, and when he moved on to another company, he asked if I would be interested in being on their design council. I accepted, but I was terrified - these people were the best of the best - people and companies that I’ve followed and been in awe of, and my small company paled in comparison to their accomplishments. Zach always says we have two ears and one mouth for a reason, and he put together a group of talented, dedicated, insightful people from all over the country, and we got to rebuild a brand. Such a huge opportunity that I will never take for granted - so proud of what we accomplished.

One of the vignettes and demo kitchen in the SKS Experience and Design Center

One of the vignettes and demo kitchen in the SKS Experience and Design Center

So when Zach approached me again and shared that he had the opportunity to develop a brand that was everything we had ever talked about, I was in. I love the start-up phase, and when Zach shared that he wanted me to help lifestyle a new Experience and Design Center for him in Napa - a place that I had always dreamed of visiting, I couldn’t wait to get started. The team he put together was some of my favorite people in the world. It was a lot of long nights and days and carefully encouraging people. At the end we made it happen, and we opened on time.

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Once again, in May Zach thought out of the box and I got an invitation to be part of the new SKS Design Council. I was so excited, and I knew great things would happen with the group that Zach put together. But then as only he can do, he made our first meeting even more special. Instead of just the Design Council meeting, he also invited Veronika Eagleson and her Designhounds to visit Napa and the EDC at the same time. I had met Veronkia numerous times over the years but was sure she wouldn’t remember me. We were always at a show being pulled in all different directions. I’ve been following her group and the great blogs that they write but had never had a firsthand experience.

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The first night we had a reception, but it still felt like two separate groups. We would do some things together, but would also be having different meetings and tours as well. As luck would have it, my talented friend and Designhound Toni Sabatino introduced me to Veronika’s daughter and I found we had a lot in common. Veronica and her husband came over and joined us, and it was a beautiful, insightful evening.

What a magical few days! I had a general knowledge of what Signature Kitchen Suite offered, and one of my clients had even chosen their pro range for their own home. By the end of the trip, I’m rethinking my entire kitchen, laundry room, and dressing room in The Home Idea Factory.

The Styler - and exciting new product from LG, parent company of Signature Kitchen Suite

The Styler - and exciting new product from LG, parent company of Signature Kitchen Suite

The thoughtfulness behind everything they do is exciting! Having a Duel-Fuel Pro Range that not only has induction, gas and steam convection but also is the only range that has a built-in sous vide module I - it’s life changing! I had never considered sous vide cooking until the SKS trainer Michelle Mazzola made a steak that I couldn’t stop eating.

Chef AJ Schaller of CREA shows what the Dual-Fuel Pro Range can do -impressive!

Chef AJ Schaller of CREA shows what the Dual-Fuel Pro Range can do -impressive!

This leek salad with poached egg tasted as good as it looks

This leek salad with poached egg tasted as good as it looks

Then they brought in AJ Schaller from CREA to show us what this range could do from crispy croutons to perfectly prepared eggs, and I was sold.

The sous vide process delivers perfectly cooked, edge to edge cooking

The sous vide process delivers perfectly cooked, edge to edge cooking

Between sous vide and steam convection, I may not need anything else in the kitchen. Oh - maybe one of their wine cellar columns and refrigeration columns. And one of their enhanced new dishwashers…

The SKS Kitchen inside the Chuck Williams Culinary Arts Museum at CIA Copia

The SKS Kitchen inside the Chuck Williams Culinary Arts Museum at CIA Copia

And then there was the trip to the CIA at Copia where there is an SKS demo kitchen as well as the Chuck Williams Culinary Museum.

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They had a photography exhibit of Julia Childs photography that made me appreciate what she accomplished for women in the kitchen even more.

The views were as stunning as the wines at the Artesa Estate Vineyards and Winery

The views were as stunning as the wines at the Artesa Estate Vineyards and Winery

Going into the clouds to visit the Artesa Estate Vineyards and Winery, having a private dinner at the EDC with Moone Tsai Winery and perfect pairings by Chef Nick followed by live music in the tasting room.

The ultimate in decadence -the Modenus Cupcakes and Champagne tradition comes to Napa

The ultimate in decadence -the Modenus Cupcakes and Champagne tradition comes to Napa

And finishing an evening with a cupcake extravaganza in the wine room was so special, and I appreciate how much time and attention to detail all of the team put into our trip to make it so unique.

Employees of Auberge du Soleil line up to keep us dry when we arrive

Employees of Auberge du Soleil line up to keep us dry when we arrive

Another special moment was when we pulled up to Auberge du Soleil in the drizzling rain -their employees lined up with umbrellas to keep us dry. So many beautiful memories, it’s hard to share just a few.

So when I named this post Building Relationships, there was a reason behind it. This trip wasn’t about selling products, drinking wine, or getting a sponsored trip to Napa. This was about relationships that will transcend this week. I’m now passionate about making sure that everyone knows about Signature Kitchen Suite and wants to be a Technicurean.

Claire Jefford educates up about Vlogging

Claire Jefford educates up about Vlogging

The three speakers that were part of this experience have genuinely changed the way I do business in a significant way. LuAnn Nigara - I have revisited how I interact with my clients. Claire Jefford - I did a video the day you spoke, and hope to follow up with many, many more. Leslie Carothers - you have made me rethink so many things that I have been doing in my business, and it’s time for a change. Veronika Eagleson - I now understand Modenus and Designhounds. You have curated an incredible group of storytellers who can help consumers find the products that can make their dreams come true.

The relationships I have made through this trip continue to grow, and a lot of us are keeping in touch and sharing. When I went to the Dallas Market Center this week, it was great to catch up with Designhound Carla Aston and hear Leslie Carothers speak again. And they were so kind to introduce me to so many people that I hadn’t met before, and to give me some great advice about what I want to do with The Lifestylist Brands - I hope that I can return the favor soon.

Cheers to a great event!

Cheers to a great event!

Now I can’t wait to get back to Napa and find out what comes next - thank-you Signature Kitchen Suite for this fantastic opportunity. Cheers!