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In My Kitchen

With three children—ages 7, 8, and 9—in the house, Strings chef Aaron Whitcomb keeps his kitchen stocked with kid-friendly fare.

Kitchen Cred This Colorado native studied culinary arts at the Art Institute of Colorado in Denver, and his resume includes chef gigs at Adega, Table 6, and his current role heading up the kitchen at Strings. He also worked as an assistant sommelier at the award-winning Alinea, the renowned molecular gastronomy restaurant in Chicago.

Kid Cafe “You open the pantry and it’s all kids’ stuff here,” says Whitcomb. “Most of it is pretty straightforward, but the kids do have an interest in cooking. We stock up on things like pancake mix, so that they can make their breakfast and be proud of the fact that they can do it on their own.”

The Soup Pot “I’m addicted to pho,” says Whitcomb. “I like Pho Saigon off County Line and Quebec, but not as much as I like Pho 99 off Alameda. I make my own ghetto pho at home—I keep beef ramen stocked up and add sliced raw meat with hoisin and sambal (Vietnamese chile-garlic paste), and add basil and bean sprouts.”

Charmed Whitcomb has an assortment of wineglass charms to help identify guests’ glasses, and he often pours interesting (and affordable) Spanish wines. Two to try: Abadia Retuerta Rívola Sardon de Duero, a Tempranillo from northwest Spain, and Finca Luzon from Jumilla, Spain.

Movie Night “My girlfriend makes the best traditional popcorn. The trick is to cook it on high heat and just use Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn kernels, canola oil, and salt.”

Baked Fresh “I like teaching the kids to make homemade pizza,” Whitcomb says. “We’ll make a yeast dough, let it rise, punch it down, and let it rise again. We make homemade tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella, and then we’ll bake the leftover pizza dough with cinnamon, sugar, and butter.”

RECIPE: Homemade Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 bag cranberries, fresh
  • 1 orange, zest, juice, and segments
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon; grated fresh from a stick is preferred
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg; grated fresh is preferred
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • pinch salt
  • pinch black pepper

Combine all ingredients, except for orange segments, in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until almost dry, stirring frequently. Once cooked, spread over a cookie sheet and cool, folding in the orange segments at the last minute.

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In My Kitchen

When Rachel Woolcott takes a break from her busy schedule as owner and chef of Aix Restaurant and Wine Bar, she experiments with recipes and entertains friends at home.

Kitchen Cred Woolcott has bounced between Colorado and both coasts for years, starting when she left her first home in Newport Beach, California, for boarding school in Vermont. She landed in Boulder for college, and worked at the Walnut Cafe while pursuing her degree in psychology at CU. Woolcott caught the restaurant bug and did a stint at City Spirit Café in Denver before heading back East to study under chefs Lydia Shire, Todd English, and Jorge Ramirez in Boston. She then returned to California to work with David Kinch before moving back to Denver, where she opened Aix in 2001. —Kat Valentine

Freshen Up When Woolcott needs a little pick-me-up, she reaches for Metromint Spearmint water. “This stuff is awesome,” she says. “There’s no sweetener, just really clean water and strong spearmint.”

Perfect Pasta Woolcott uses her Atlas Marcato pasta maker for homemade ravioli. “I usually make what I call ‘leftovers ravioli’ because it’s easy,” she says. “I just use whatever is handy in the refrigerator.” Atlas Marcato Pasta Machine, $69.95 at

Best Beans Woolcott puts her espresso machine to good use daily, and keeps her pantry stocked with coffee beans from Old Bisbee Roasters. “The owner roasts his own coffee there in Bisbee, Arizona,” she says. “If you buy two pounds or more, you always get something else thrown in for free.”

Cooking Class “I like to have dinner parties with friends, but people are so intimidated by food, so I usually try to teach them how to make something,” Woolcott explains. “One time I did corn dogs from scratch, and once we did homemade mozzarella.”

Tasting Party “I had a local wine purveyor come to my house and do a tasting party for my partner, Michelle. It’s a great idea for a birthday or anniversary,” Woolcott says. “Just talk to someone at your local wine shop about price ranges and food choices, and they can suggest wine flights for each pairing.”

Individual Chocolate Tortes

  • 1/2 pound of good dark chocolate
  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a double boiler. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until light in color and texture. Temper (very slowly add) the melted chocolate and butter with the egg mixture. Whisk in the flour at the very end. Pour about 4 ounces into individual spring molds, and bake in a 350° oven for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, or until desired consistency.