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What’s in your fridge?

On the shelves of an Austrian design icon with Tom Barratt



Maybe the question to Tom Barratt shouldn’t be what’s in your fridge; maybe to him the question — the exclamatory question — should be what’s your fridge!?

For Tom, who has worked at Whistler as a landscape architect for what seems like centuries but really is only a couple of decades, recently had to buy a new one. Not that the former fridge broke. Rather that it was about to shatter his nerves.

The old Amana used to sound like a rocket taking off. Given Tom’s bedroom is but a few short paces from the galley-style kitchen, which faces the living and dining rooms in an open-plannish kind of way, one can easily imagine the need for a fridge capable of fulfilling its mandate without unsettling the owner in the midst of a tranquil sleep, a good bit of roots music, or dinner conversation.

The problem was fitting one into the 30-inch opening allotted when his house was built back in the early ’90s, for in our strange relentless search for all things bigger and fatter, most fridges now are 36 inches wide or more.

And so the search was on. The solution: a Liebbher Premium NoFrost from Austria. Tall, slim, elegant and technologically smart.

“It’s one of the best-designed things I’ve ever seen,” says Tom. “It’s too much.”

This too-much fridge has baskets for storing wine bottles properly. A narrow shelf is perfect for skinny packages or those little containers that always seem to wiggle their way to the back of the fridge, never to be found again until their contents are untenable. Another shelf is designed for tall bottles that won’t fit anywhere except here, in this barely muttering, whisper-quiet Liebbher Premium NoFrost.

The transparent crisper drawers at waist level let you see everything inside and below. In the freezer, three additional drawers are handy for finding blueberries for pancakes. Or single servings of pepperonata sauce he learned to make in Italy at Umberto’s. Or soup stock from Capers so he can make a big batch of soup (the thought of which unleashes a major perturbance over the fact that Whole Foods, which bought Capers, closed the original Capers store in Dundarave on Marine Drive, which used to be so handy for Whistlerites and other loyal customers, including seniors in the neighbourhood, who now confront its papered-over windows instead of organic oatmeal and yogurt).

The Liebbher is so beautiful that when he first got it, he would buy beer just so he (or his pals) could open it.