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If you’ve dined at Rioja or the Squeaky Bean, you’ve tasted some of the city’s most complex dishes—and you can imagine the kitchens needed to put them together. So it may come as a surprise that the executive chefs behind those restaurants—2013 James Beard Award–winner Jennifer Jasinski and Max MacKissock, respectively, who married in 2011—operate in just 144 square feet of cooking space in their century-old Sunnyside Victorian home (which they share with four-legged pals Ginger Snap and Deano). But thanks to a recent kitchen renovation spearheaded by Greenwood Cabinets & Stone owner and designer Neil Maday, the streamlined space is now worthy of two of Denver’s most celebrated—and down-to-earth—restaurateurs. Here are some of their design tips.
Open Up
Contractor Damon Decker (Fourth Street Group) knocked down the wall separating the kitchen and dining area and created a peninsula, topped with green-streaked marble (White Beauty) from Galleria of Stone. Jasinski discovered the walnut stools—“They’re so comfortable!”— at Element, located across from Rioja in Larimer Square.

Maximize Space
“Appliances drive the kitchen,” Maday says. “I create the cabinets around them.” He sourced the European-style frameless cabinets from Bellmont Cabinet Company and the KitchenAid appliances from Specialty Appliance. The microwave is hidden behind a cabinet door (left of the fridge) that lifts up for easy access.

Keep It Simple
The kitchen is surprisingly devoid of fancy gadgets and cookware. “I like to make things accessible,” MacKissock says, rather than “pulling out 15 different pans you never use to get the one you want.”

Do Double Duty
Extra prep areas and a second oven allow the two chefs to cook together—or separately. “Last night, she wanted something different for dinner than I did, so we each made our own,” MacKissock says.

Grow Your Own
MacKissock built two eight-by-four-foot planters for the couple’s garden, which supplies them with fresh veggies such as heirloom cucumbers, zucchini, and bok choy.

Jen & Max’s cooking must-have
John Boos Block cutting board, Peppercorn, 1235 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-449-5847, peppercorn.com

—Photo by Ron Ruscio