Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mayberry makeover

ORANGE CITY-Madison Mayberry proved she could cook on Rachael Ray's "Hey, Can You Cook?! 3."

Now, the 21-year-old Orange City native has the tools and appliances to do so in the kitchen she grew up cooking in.

When Madison was crowned the champion of the reality cooking contest in November, she received a four-day course in French Regional Cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu International Culinary Academy in France and a stay at the Paris Marriott Rive Ganche Hotel, an appearance on "Rachael Ray" to cook her own recipe with Ray as her assistant, an original recipe published in Ray's magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray, and a kitchen makeover with Viking appliances.

As Madison attends school at Iowa State University in Ames and lives in the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority house, she transfered the kitchen makeover to her mother, Marilyn, who lives in Orange City.

The redisign
Last month, Kristan Cunningham, a regularly featured designer on "Rachael Ray" and a lead designer and host of the HGTV series "Design on a Dime," joined local construction crews tom complete the makeover.

But, a month prior to that, Cunningham, along with Dan Hibma, owner of Vision Builders, a Sioux Center-based contractor involved in implementing Cunningham's design, met at the Mayberry home to conduct a field measure.

That was when both Marilyn and Madison told Cunningham what they did not like about their current kitchen.

While Marilyn wanted more cabinets, drawers that easily pulled out and a large, open space for entertaining, Madison was more concerned with being better able to cook in the space.

"I would like to see new appliances, more storage and definitely more space for us to just entertain," Madison told Cunningham in February. "That's the problem with our kitchen now. We have no space to entertain."

So, Cunningham started to work, choosing products, ordering everything and having it all shipped to Vision Builders.

"The guys at Vision did quality control and product checks," Cunningham said. "Some of the stuff came in broken, and they checked all of that, so we were able to get it replaced in time."

While the makeover itself took about a week and a half, Cunningham said the preparations took a couple of months.

"That's why I think it went so smooth," she said. "I've never had a job go this smoothly, ever - not this kind of makeover. I think it was just good planning."

And good help.

Vision Builders was not just randomly selected to assist Cunningham in the creation of her design.

"The producers call ahead," Cunningham said. "They screen and interview and find us the best resources that we have available to us wherever we're going to be. But, it's still a crapshoot. Sometimes, personalities don't match. Sometimes, people oversell themselves on the phone and in the interview process. Sometimes, things just happen. And sometimes, you just get really lucky and it all works out well. Luckily, Dan and I can stand each other."

But, Cunningham said all of the preparations, creative design and good craftsmanship, sometimes still is not enough if all those involved do not give it their all.

That was not the case at the Mayberry home.

"These guys had less than two weeks, and really, we had no all-nighters, no late nights even," Cunningham said. "These guys gave 185 percent all day long every single day, and there was still family time and dinner time and nobody was showing up exhausted in the morning. This is the first time I haven't had to pull an all-nighter on one of these makeovers."

While Cunningham has completed a combined 200 makeovers on "Rachael Ray" and "Design on a Dime," it is no surprise that she has worked with numerous companies, but Vision Builders still far exceeded her expectations.

"When it goes this well, and everybody is still this happy and energetic and positive about the experience at the end, it's because you have an amazing team," she said. "The reason I think Vision is so successful is because everybody is excellent at what they do, and everybody is committed to execution and quality craftsmanship and everybody really likes working together. Dan makes that really, really easy. Dan supports these guys and everybody stays motivated and feels appreciated. The challenge of doing this in a tight time frame with these kinds of constraints, and to have watched the guys sail through it so effortlessly, I think is a pretty good indication of how great of a team they've got."

For Hibma and his Vision Builders crew, the opportunity of working with Cunningham will be hard to top.

"It reiterates how blessed we've been and how good of a team we have," Hibma said. "I hope it gives the guys a sense of pride in what they do, and I hope it gets them excited. I want it to be something they can remember for the rest of their lives."

The reveal
Although the "Rachael Ray" segment of the Mayberry kitchen makeover just aired Monday, April 13, Madison and Marilyn were introduced to their new and improved space on March 27.

While Cunningham and the local building teams spent time at the Mayberry home, both Madison and Marilyn had to keep their distance.

Madison was on spring break visiting her father in Florida, but Marilyn had to stay at her mother's condominium a few blocks away from her house.

"We ran a time-lapse camera, so we had her under the impression that the camera was running all day and all night," Cunningham said. "We needed to do anything we could to insure she would not come by and look."

Marilyn obeyed, but her friends tried to get a glimpse of the action.

"They would tell me if they saw something in the Dumpster," she said.

But, Marilyn and Madison were soon introduced to their new kitchen.

Cunningham led the two inside, making sure their eyes were covered, then revealed the space.

"I was blown away when I saw my kitchen," Madison said. "I thought it was going to look basically like the old kitchen with a few upgrades. It didn't even look like the same house. They did a wonderful job."

Staying true to both Madison's and Marilyn's wishes, Cunningham incorporated walls of cupboards, plenty of drawers, all new Viking appliances and a large built-in seating area, complete with a long bench and upholstered Thomasville chairs. Cunningham's team also knocked out a wall that was separating the kitchen from Marilyn's office space, creating more room for pantries, and leaving room for a desk and built-in book case.

"I think the way they transformed the space was genius," Marilyn said.

Last weekend, Madison came home for Easter break and could not wait to start using her new kitchen.

"The minute I walked in, I started cooking and baking right away," Madison said. "I was basically in the kitchen my entire break. I cooked Easter dinner for my entire family and had a wonderful time. I'm definitely coming home much more now that I have a new kitchen."

While Marilyn was impressed with the aesthetic qualities of the kitchen, Madison preferred the cooking utensils.

"My favorite part is definitely the new appliances," Madison said. "They are amazing and they exceeded my expectations. I couldn't think of another thing I would want to put in there."

Madison and Marilyn also traveled to New York City for the taping of the April 13 episode of "Rachael Ray."

"It was fun to take the trip and not have any cooking involved," Marilyn said. "The people on the show have been incredible. The whole experience has been so enjoyable."

Didn't catch the Mayberry kitchen reveal on "Rachael Ray" Monday? Check it out online at

After graduating from Iowa State University in Ames next month, Madison Mayberry plans to attend her four-day course in French Regional Cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu International Culinary Academy in Paris in June.

She also has been looking at culinary schools in New York.

"I've just been looking around, but I'm definitely interested in the Institute of Culinary Education," Madison said.

This article appeared in the April 18, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

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