David Bracha, chef and owner Oak Tavern

02/22/2013 12:00 AM

02/22/2013 4:41 PM

When Oak Tavern chef-owner David Bracha and his wife, Joan, bought their Buena Vista home in 1997, they knew they had their work cut out for them. Built in 1926, the house—and in particular the kitchen—was in desperate need of updating. “It wasn’t horrible,” said Bracha. “But it definitely wasn’t special.”

Yet they could both see beyond the kitchen’s awkward layout, beyond its formica countertop and small electric stove. So what exactly did they see? “The number one thing was that the house had 37 custom-made windows, all original,” Bracha said. “We loved the light they created, and we knew we had to keep them.” In the kitchen, that meant forgoing upper cabinets to make sure a wall of windows remained unobstructed, and opting for open shelving opposite the windows in order to maintain an airy, light feeling.

“I really like the practicality of it,” Bracha said. “And I like that it feels casual.” While the vibe is decidedly relaxed at the Bracha home—where the 49-year-old, Israel-born, Brooklyn-raised chef’s 11-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter also live, along with two dogs, including a recent rescue—there is one serious piece of equipment Bracha insisted on having. “My Viking stove!” he said, excited. “I wanted a nice stove because we cook a lot at home. All the family meals are made here, we do a lot of entertaining and Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve are always here.”

A six-burner beauty with red detailing, the stove features an oven that fits a standard sheet pan, Bracha points out, “which means you can roast a big turkey in there and not have any issue.” Indeed, the stove is hard at work, even on regular weekend mornings, when Bracha can be found whipping up eggs or making French toast for the family, and on weekend evenings, when he’ll “grill something or make some pasta. We really do like to eat at home. This house is so comfortable and it’s fun to cook and eat here.”

Chef David Bracha will be grilling up lots of things at Thrillist’s BBQ & Blues, presented by Creekstone Farms and hosted by Geoffrey Zakarian, from 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach. For details, go to sobefest.com.

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