Be A Colorado Kitchen Snoop

The next few weeks bring at least two opportunities to visit other people’s kitchens and benefit good causes as well. You might be looking for ideas for your own kitchen remodel, or you might just be a masochist who enjoys the pain of kitchen envy when comparing your own cooking area with gorgeous designer kitchens furnished with the finest — exquisite cabinets, over-the-top granite countertops and the highest-end appliances.

Boulder’s annual Kitchens on Fire (right, June 1-2 , 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) is, to quote the organizers, “a self-guided tour of inspiring kitchens of every size and shape.” Tickets are only $15 and benefit the Dairy Center for the Arts. They are available at the Dairy Center (2590 Walnut Street), on-line or by phone (303-444-SEAT).

Denver’s fourth annual Kitchens That Cook! tour (left, June 10, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.) features nine show-stopping kitchens in the Park Hill, Country Club and Washington Park neighborhoods. The tour is also self-guided. Tickets are $20 in advance (on-line) or $25 on tour day (available at all stops). Proceeds benefit the Junior League of Denver. You can also preview these kitchens on the JLD’s website. These gorgeous kitchens make any enthusiastic cook drool. I often wonder, however, how many people with such magnificent showplace kitchens actually cook.

Many years ago, when Corian was the trendy countertop surface and SubZero was just coming onto the scene as the first designer appliance (the first I knew about, at any rate), a friend an I went on a tour of fancy kitchens in New Jersey’s fashionable exurbia. We were living in then-unfashionable Hoboken. We both loved to cook (and she’s a terrific baker as well). We were managing quite nicely with kitchens that we fixed up only slightly from the 1950s updates we inherited from the previous owners when we bought our 1870s brownstones — icky salmon-colored Formica countertops (in both houses), forgettable cabinets (mine were knotty pine and mounted for someone 6 inches taller than I; hers were simply cheap and mounted for someone shorter than she), merely functional appliances (neither of our kitchens came with dishwashers; I bought a roll-to-the-sink model; she settled for a half-size under-the-counter machine). We walked through these pristine kitchens where only one had any evidence (i.e., a few cookbooks on a small shelf) that anyone actually cooked, and then went home and whipped up dinners in our considerable more modest settings.