Boulder’s Kitchens On Fire Fundraiser & Other Kitchens

Kitchen inspiration can be sophisticated or simple; it’s the food that counts

Kitchens On Fire, the 11th annual fundraiser for Boulder’s Dairy Center for the Arts, will take place Friday and Saturday, May 15 and 16. The opportunity to look at and admire nine gorgeous spaces where homeowners cook (or don’t cook) costs $18 in advance (click here) or $20 at the homes on tour days (cash or check only).

If you go, expect to see fabulous designer kitchens like that on the right, with the highest-end appliances (Bosch, SubZero, Thermador, Wolf), cabinets (cherry, birch, walnut), counters (granite, marble, concrete), backsplashes (glass tiles now in favor), hardwood floors and custom finishes. Expect to see kitchens that are open to a family room, or “great room” in developerspeak, and/or to the dining area. Windows take in inspiring views. These certainly are kitchens that enthusiastic cooks drool over, dream about and draw inspiration from.

In a very different way, I was also inspired by “Thinking Globally Kitchens: Food and Culture in Four Boulder Kitchens” in today’s Daily Camera about Boulderites who brought the cooking and dining traditions from the corners of the world. The piece profiled a quartet cooks who turn out complicated from-scratch dishes from their original countries — as far as I can tell, in far simpler kitchens than those showcased during Kitchens on Fire. Even a modest Colorado kitchen is a far cry from those in these cooks’ countries of origins.

In Peru, writer Jessica Warnock reports, “the kitchen “is a special place…because it is closed off from the rest of the house.” In France, “kitchens are traditionally large and enclosed spaces where the family gathers to eat daily.” Ethiopians are described as “intimate and inviting people” for whom food is part of affection, family and community. Guests drop in, often without warning, and “if you are home, no guest ever leaves without eating.” Ethiopians are “very traditional and polite in the their dining habits, “which are communal, though “in many families, the children and adults dine at separate tables.” The fourth cook “grew up on a farm in northern India…and ate organic food grown on her own lands every day, drank milk from her own cows and enjoyed vegetables grown in her own garden. Twenty members of her family lived together…meaning cooking every day was an all-day process.” She fondly remembers sitting on the balcony around a home-made, wood-burning clay stove called a chulha (lower right) and enjoying “food straight from the skillet on the chulha stove.”

Cooking environments environments vary around the world according to culture, tradition and economics, but it doesn’t matter whether kitchens and implements are very plain or super-fancy as long as they are tools for preparing food with love and care.