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Friday, June 24, 2011

Louisville: Friends, Food & Red Penguins

 Me and my new BFF Lacy with our non prize-winning Iron Chef dish.

Dumplings, I returned from Louisville late last night exhausted but on a crazyexcited high about my trip. GE flew me and 24 other design professionals to Kentucky to take part in their Monogram Experience Center. The MEC sits on the expansive grounds of GE's Appliance Park, a design and factory compound so large it has its own zip code.

This year, GE Monogram marks its 25th anniversary and they have a lot to celebrate. Many of the high-end line's appliances have been revamped and redesigned, and a sexy (yes - SEXY!) new built-in fridge can morph to answer just about any cooling need you may have.

Beauty, thy name is integrated refrigeration.

We learned everything about everything when it came to GE's covetable line. After 90 minutes of thorough explanation, I had no idea I could be so damn excited about dishwashers. And that my own was such a piece of shit. I now realize that my life has been a gray and depressing existence because I boil my water on a 1973 cooktop and not a 48" hulk of a range...

Ba-DAYUM! Come to Mama!!!

Our training sessions were broken up with cooking demonstrations and challenges in the GE test kitchens. We were led by celebrity chef Joe Castro (bottom right) and his sous chef Brian Logsdon (bottom left). Both were jokesters and very patient with the cooking newbies.

GE did not skimp on our accommodations either. We stayed in downtown Louisville at 21C, the nation's top-rated luxury hotel two years running. Located just steps from the Ohio River, 21C is a design hipster paradise. The 90-room hotel was built 5 years ago to house a local couple's vast collection of 21st-century art. Peeking around every corner are the hotel's signature red penguins. One mysteriously ended up in my friend Arne's room where it was subjected to all manner of rudeness.

 21C's penguin-ed entrance and bedazzled VIP limousine.

Each room is stocked with an iPod, julep cups and Malin + Goetz bath products - HEAVEN! The hotel also features a spa and on-site yogi, but too much fab GE food during the day and a few too many vodka tonics at night meant my spare time was spent face down in the six fluffy down pillows of my room's bed.

21C's lobby and a typical room.

GE's generosity did not end with our noon wrap-up yesterday.  Because I had a late flight out, they arranged a town car to take me on a tour of old Louisville with a stop at the venerable Speed Art Museum and lunch at local landmark diner Lynn's Paradise Cafe.

I was joined by two other late-day travelers, the Brooklyn Contessa and Carmen Christensen of Time2Design. We saw stolen Italian altarpieces and stuffed ourselves with some truly fine Southern cooking.

My brother from another mother, Nick Lovelady.

I want to thank GE Monogram for their boundless generosity, and specifically MEC Concierge Nancy Wolff for her indefatigable charm and hard work and Paula Cecere of GE's New York Monogram Design Center for bringing together such an amazing group of design professionals!

FTC fine print: GE Monogram appliances is paying for my airfare and all travel expenses for this trip.


Jimmy The Undercover Designer said...

Souds lime a fun trip. Glad you enjoyed it.
Will have to google that hotel see if there are any other photos. Looks like nice design there.

David said...

Two things: First, you've never taken a bad photograph pretty lady.

Second, I've had one, and only one, Sub Zero fridge and Wolf range in mind for our future kitchen. Until now. Those are some handsome machines. I'm off to read up now.

Keri said...

Sounds fabulous Raina! We have bought GE fridge's for both of our houses and they never let us down. Our new one is huge with the bottom drawer freezer. It fits everything!

Bri@Meyouandawiener said...

I passed through Louisville yesterday, I should have stopped said Hi! Then back on my car and on the rode again. Damn, next even Raina, next event.

Looks like you had lots-o- fun!

Nick @ Cupboards said...

Wow... could I look goofier and/or shinier?!

Was a blast hanging out again!

Modern Country Lady said...

Sounds you had a blast!!! Seems a fab event !!Have a great weekend and a good rest !!

Robin said...

What a great opportunity! And fabulous necklace.

Jessie said...

This looks like a great trip! Glad you had fun.

Have a good weekend!


Camilla @ Designalogue said...

Sounds like a fun jaunt!

The fridges are very sexy. I think I could handle a glass front to see my veggies rotting away & the general emptiness of mine!

eileen @ said...

You had me at penguins, but the appliances are pretty fabulous, too. I love me a sleek, modern fridge with an un-fussy handle. I'm confused by all the functionality, though. Cooking? Is that what people do with appliances? Because I've had a microwave sitting in the closet under my stairs for TWO YEARS.

Arne Salvesen said...

"One mysteriously ended up in my friend Arne's room where it was subjected to all manner of rudeness."

Just to be clear, I was not alone in the room with said penguin subjecting anyone to any sort of rudeness. In fact, the penguin arrived with a group of unexpected penguin-nappers.

A great week to be sure, made all the more special by the presence of Reina, Lacy and Nick. Oh yeah, and the 48" Hulk-O-Rama Range.

Cathy Wall said...

Lucky you sounds like a great experience with a little bit of hi-jinx mixed in!

Alcira Molina-Ali said...

Oh my stars!

That sessy fridge and the hulking range are the stuff of Nero's dreamscapes.
So glad you had a wonderful time in such a swank wonderland.
Welcome back!

Shannon said...

Oh glad you and my BFF became BFFs

Alexandra Rae said...

Who knew a sojourn in Louisville could stir such jealous in me... Glad you had such delicious fun!

Raina Cox said...

Shannon - She's a winner! ;)

jb @BuildingMoxie said...

great recap Raina and the comments here make this even more fun...lucky you on the Speed Art Museum --looks totally cool and you ask, a little jealous? Ahhh... yes! great seeing you again . . . luck and love on all the great things that are happening for you and until next time. ~jb

Naomi@DesignManifest said...

love the recap! sounds like quite the time.

I've never really considered Monogram. I feel like my clients tend to either sway up toward sub-zero-grade or down toward GE Profile-grade. I should really learn more about them. And good for them for reinventing themselves.