Chef Kent Rathbun, owner of Abacus, Jasper's and Hickory restaurants, spends a lot of time in his home kitchen. "My favorite way to spend my time off is cooking with a few of my friends," he says.

Chef Kent Rathbun, owner of Abacus, Jasper's and Hickory restaurants, spends a lot of time in his home kitchen. "My favorite way to spend my time off is cooking with a few of my friends," he says.

G.J. McCarthy/Staff Photographer

When chef Kent Rathbun and restaurateur wife Tracy cook at home with their kids, it's typically not pan-roasted foie gras or wagyu carpaccio. They go big with breakfast.

Because they balance parenthood with busy careers -- Kent is a nationally acclaimed chef who owns Abacus, Jasper's and Hickory restaurants while Tracy co-owns Shinsei -- breakfast is special, a fun way to spend the morning together in the kitchen before daughter Garrett, 9, and son Max, 12, head off to school.

"I'm really more the chauffeur in the morning, and Tracy is more the chef," Kent says.

On a recent fall morning, the whole family gathered to make Toad in the Hole, cinnamon rolls in the waffle iron, and egg tacos with shishito peppers freshly picked from the family's vegetable garden.

"The kids are really into cooking," Kent says. "They love the whole food thing. Garrett is really into baking."

And while many chefs don't always cook much at home, Kent says he's always cooking, whether it be for work or play. In addition to family time, the Rathbuns entertain a lot, be it a small group of friends or larger events and fundraisers.

"My favorite way to spend my time off is cooking with a few of my friends," chef Rathbun says. Lucky friends, right?

The kitchen at the 5,200-square-foot home in Bluffview is a chef's and entertainer's dream: clean, modern lines, multiple islands, Miele appliances and stainless-steel drawers for plenty of storage. The built-in pantry is stocked with oils, vinegars and other condiments for every cuisine. One of Kent's favorite items is a tin full of Indian spices. "I just love Indian food," he says.

A large garden lies just beyond the kitchen at Rathbun's Bluffview home. It turned out cooler than the Rathbuns expected.

A large garden lies just beyond the kitchen at Rathbun's Bluffview home. It turned out cooler than the Rathbuns expected.

G.J. McCarthy/Staff Photographer

There are also two built-in refrigerators, and the smaller one is "where I keep the good stuff," Kent says. "The kids aren't allowed in here." On the day we were there, it was freshly stocked with imported cheeses.

But what does Kent use the most in the kitchen? "A knife and cutting board," he says. He also uses a Japanese mandoline often, but "there's not a lot you can't do with a French knife."

The Rathbuns also are proud of growing their own food -- what could be fresher than that? The garden off the east side of the kitchen features multiple raised beds and planters. One bed is packed thickly with herbs -- Thai basil, cilantro, sage, fennel and even stevia. Other beds are for vegetables and greens -- sprouts, carrots, shallots, garlic, broccoli rabe, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, mustard, mizuna and peppers, lots of peppers. Kent favors the shishitos.

"I just spent hours picking peppers and I still see peppers in there," Kent says. "We wanted a garden, but we never intended for it to turn out as cool as it is."

The edge of the garden is home to taller blackberry plants and Mexican plum trees that the Rathbuns use to make ginger plum jam.

As you walk through the garden and into the side yard, you'll find a beehive as well as large barrels for rainwater collection. "We wanted the house to be as green as possible," Kent says.

The connection to nature and the outdoors dictated much of the home's design as well. Designed by architect Jerry Coleman and built by Jennifer Duncan, the style is Hill Country modern, with lots of stone, tight knot cedar paneling and cactus plants.

One of the most dramatic features is the transition space from the living room to the outdoor patio and pool area. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors run the length of the main space and completely fold back, allowing natural light and a soft breeze to flow through the house.

The Rathbuns spend a lot of time outdoors as a family and when entertaining or throwing fundraisers and other events. "We cook in the outdoor kitchen almost as much as we do indoors," Kent says. "If we can be out here, we'll definitely be out here."

The outdoor kitchen is essentially a showroom for Lynx appliances, a company that Kent is in partnership with. There's Lynx's voice-activated, Wi-Fi-enabled SmartGrill and a power burner that was recently used for a crawfish boil. There's also a pizza oven, which the kids love to use. "We made a s'mores pizza in there the other day," Kent says.

Yes, the Rathbun home is impressive and full of amenities, but it's relaxed and welcoming -- a hang-out-all-day kind of place that's truly a home, not just for show.

Kent Rathbun on ...

Wood sits under a stove in the outdoor cooking area at chef Kent Rathbun's home.

Wood sits under a stove in the outdoor cooking area at chef Kent Rathbun's home.

G.J. McCarthy/Staff Photographer

Choosing a career: "You know, I've spoken with a lot of very successful people in the business world, and so many have asked me about getting into the restaurant business. They've spent their whole careers working for something, and you know what, they don't dig it! This is about loving what you do. If you don't do something you love, you spend your life working."

Passing the love of food to his kids: "I think my kids may end up doing something with food. Just because, honestly, it would be easy for them. But I never put any pressure on them."

His love of travel: "I never got on a plane until I was 21. Since I started traveling, my wealth of knowledge has expanded. No amount of reading can take the place of being there. I get my inspiration from traveling. ... And we always take our kids. It's an education for them as well as me."

You wish your kitchen looked like this, right?

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