After dating for three years, Caitlin is moving into Jed's two-story Highlands home just west of downtown Denver, Colorado. I happened to catch them as they were combining their belongings and officially meshing their lives together. The couple's focus is readily apparent by the fact that although there were boxes and clutter around the house, the kitchen was already organized!
Jed's contacts within the real estate profession enabled him to custom-design his dream kitchen, one that lends itself to entertaining and cooking with friends and family, all in an open, inviting setting. Jed's seasoned kitchen is modern, industrial, and sleek. Despite the monochromatic scheme, the kitchen evokes a sense of warmth and openness. This gregarious couple is well-known by many of Denver's restauranteurs, and they often have their friends, favorite chefs, and sommeliers over for dinners and wine pairings. Caitlin is a professional sommelier, and often their dinners evolve from a particular wine she's chosen for the evening. Jed is currently seeking out a location for a new restaurant, and I am sure that the decor, recipes, cocktails, and wine choices will all find their roots in this kitchen!
10 Questions for Caitlin and Jed (and Their Kitchen)
1. What inspires your kitchen and your cooking?
Our main living area, which is centered around our kitchen, encourages conversation amongst and participation with the guests we entertain. We both admire simple, modern design, and we are drawn to clean lines. Jed and I love to cook together, and we are inspired by whatever is fresh and seasonably available. Oftentimes, one ingredient catches our eyes and an evening of researching, prepping, cooking, and wine pairing ensues! We are also inspired by our many books on cooking, cocktails, and wine, and are obsessively drawn to add to our extensive collection.
2. What is your favorite kitchen tool or element?
Our Francis Francis espresso machine - we use it daily! It is almost a work of art in itself, and it provides a pop of color amidst our industrial, grey kitchen. It is indispensable when making one of our favorite desserts, an affogato, which we create using a shot of espresso and a scoop of salted caramel ice cream.
3. What's the most memorable meal you've ever cooked in this kitchen?
When we were first dating, Jed invited me, my mom, and my sister over for dinner. It was the fourth of July, and he grilled out for us. Although the meal was simple, he put a lot of thought into it, and the relaxing, open atmosphere of Jed's (now our) kitchen eased a moment that everyone usually stresses about. It was the first time that my family met Jed. I remember my mom, who forgot she was a mile above sea level, having a couple of glasses of wine, and the family stories spilled. It really connected us all together, and my family immediately fell in love with him, too.
4. The biggest challenge in your kitchen:
We really don't have a lot of storage space. We store a lot of items in an extra room behind the kitchen. Also, our pantry's shelves are deep, and I'm not the tallest person, so things are just hard to reach. We end up purchasing duplicates of many items, simply because we don't know what we already have on hand. Cleaning out the kitchen during my recent move in, I found five jars of paprika in the cupboards!
5. Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
The layout of our kitchen is exactly how we want it; however, the cabinets above the stovetop area are on a hydraulic system, and they no longer stay lifted. It makes it difficult to reach needed items in the midst of cooking. That's something we'll need to revisit.
6. Biggest indulgence or splurge in the kitchen:
Knives. We have a serious addiction to Shun knives and colored, ceramic knives. Shun knives are sharp, beautifully crafted, and built to last. Spending over $100 on a single knife may seem excessive, but cooking becomes so much more enjoyable and safer with a quality knife. We'd also have to add Le Creuset cast iron cookware, simply for their beauty and ease of cooking.
7. Is there anything you hope to add or improve in your kitchen?
We want to find more servingware so that we can set out large spreads to make serving and entertaining easier. We'd love to bring more color into the kitchen with some bright bowls and platters.
8. How would you describe your cooking style?
We're both very garlic-and-tomatoes kind of cooks; however, we have very different cooking styles. I (Caitlin) like to work with what is on hand in the kitchen, making simple dishes that use very few ingredients. Jed, however, will choose a recipe and won't stop until he has each specific ingredient called for. We once searched almost every specialty shop in town for Nanami Togarashi, a seven-spice blend that was listed in a recipe.
9. Best cooking advice or tip you ever received:
Caitlin: Clean as you go.
Jed: Know your knife skills. It is definitely worth it to take a class on knife-handling.
10. What are you cooking this week?
We are still unpacking and merging our belongings this week, so an ornate dinner is not on our menu right now. I'm going to make some dishes in advance, so that Jed and I can enjoy them throughout the week. I'm thinking of roasting a chicken that can be incorporated multiple ways. We are also trying to cut down on dining out, so cleaning our kitchen was first priority during the move. It's the only cleaned, organized, and unpacked room right now!
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(Images: Jayme Henderson)