Pull up a chair

All parties end up in the kitchen

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Approaching Jean and Jeffrey Wolf's house, it looks like any other home around Lake Catamount, built of wood and river rock according to the development's covenants.

But step inside and the feeling changes completely. Inside, the house is designed to feel like the protected environment of a monastery.

The Steamboat Springs Kitchen Tour, including tours of six private home kitchens and cooking demonstrations by local chefs, will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. As part of the tour, ticket holders can visit Kitchen Perfection, at 2620 South Copper Frontage off Elk River Road, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for cooking demonstrations, table decor ideas, an auction and tastings from the Strings Guild cookbook. Advance tickets are $20 and are available at All That Jazz, Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, The Homesteader and Strings in the Mountains, or by calling 879-5056, ext.105. Tickets on the day of the tour cost $25 and can be purchased at the tour homes or Kitchen Perfection.

The Wolfs were inspired by a friend in Los Angeles who bought an old nunnery. He modernized the interior while keeping the original feel.

"We didn't want to buy an old house, but we wanted to create the warmth of those old houses," Jean Wolf said.

The house is 10,000 square feet and has five guest bedrooms. It's a house designed for entertaining, but when the guests are gone, the two occupants find themselves spending most of their time in the downstairs living room and in the heart of the house -- the kitchen.

They retained the monastery look throughout the kitchen with a crackled finish on the cabinets and unframed, rounded windowsills.

The walls are decorated with an ever-rotating collection of Cuban and South American art from the couple's collection.

With modern appliances, it was difficult to carry the monastery theme into the kitchen, Wolf said.

"My advice is not to settle, and be patient," she said. "You have to choose your colors and follow through with the theme. We had to find things to match."

The original porcelain tiles she ordered for the floor didn't match, and she had them torn up and replaced with a custom limestone tile her husband found in a Denver warehouse.

Wolf's granite countertops had to be quarried from Brazil and took three months to arrive, but the wait was worth it, she said.

The Wolfs' kitchen has a central island with a small sink where food can be cleaned and prepared. Jean Wolf had two refrigerated drawers added to the island to minimize trips she had to make to the refrigerator across the room.

The kitchen also features a built-in steamer, wine cooler and icemaker big enough for large parties.

The Wolfs like to entertain, but they didn't want their kitchen to be too large. As a compromise, they had a smaller caterer's kitchen installed next to the main kitchen.

"The caterers can be in here and make a mess," she said.

The Wolfs' kitchen will be open to the public this weekend as part of the Steamboat Springs Kitchen Tour, organized by the Guild of Strings in the Mountains. Ticket holders will visit the kitchens of Ralph and Grace Strangis, Bob and Mary Litterman, Gary and Holly Nelson, Mary Allen, Jeff and Kim Temple and the Wolfs.

The idea for a tour of area kitchen came from guild member Jane Carpenter, who experienced a similar event in Westport, Conn.

Proceeds from the Kitchen Tour will benefit the Strings in the Mountains Music Festival and be used to publish a recipe book compiled by Guild members.

The Guild exists as a support entity for the Strings festival. The group is a cross-section of women in Steamboat who hold fund-raisers and volunteer at Strings concerts. They also get together often for dinner.

"We're such a food group," Kitchen Tour co-chairwoman Sandy Berger said. "We have so many dinner parties and when we were trying to come up with a way to support the Guild, making a cookbook seemed like a natural thing."

Guild members got together for tasting parties to perfect the recipes they planned to use.

"We were talking and realized we needed money to publish the cookbook -- seed money," Berger said.

The Strings cookbook will be published next summer. The working title for the book is "Steamboat Seasons."

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