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  • Now That's a Kitchen!

    Culinary couple designs their dream space
  • "We built the kitchen — the whole house, really — for our stuff," says Dick Sweet from the back corner of his 150-square-foot, walk-in pantry. And he's not kidding.
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    • Cooks for a crowd
      Dick and Elaine Sweet had a few things in mind when they designed their Ashland dream home in 2005: easygoing living, maximum comfort and gracious, relaxed entertaining.
      The latter, when combin...
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      Cooks for a crowd
      Dick and Elaine Sweet had a few things in mind when they designed their Ashland dream home in 2005: easygoing living, maximum comfort and gracious, relaxed entertaining.

      The latter, when combined with the couple's renowned culinary skills and generosity, has earned the Sweets a reputation as expert hosts of donor receptions and auction dinners.

      "I've always cooked for people, and he's always been involved with cultural arts," says Elaine. "And we have friends who are on boards who just ask us to do things. It's a natural fit."

      Thanks to ingenious design tricks such as room dividers that double as bars, an extra-wide opening between dining room and living room for additional tables and a cunning hutch that hides circular tabletops of varying sizes, the couple can seat up to 30 people and offer standing receptions for even more.

      Each year they host events for the Schneider Museum of Art, Britt Festivals, ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum and Rogue Valley Symphony.

      A special interest of Dick's is the Daedalus Project, an HIV/AIDS benefit at Oregon Shakespeare Festival. As the event approaches, Dick breaks out his largest mixing bowls, sheet pans and cooling rack. The door to the cupboard that houses his professional mixer is opened, the mixer is wheeled into the forefront and Dick starts to bake. His self-designed kitchen takes on the look of a commercial bakery.

      "We keep the OSF actors in cookies," says Dick, who confesses his reputation is "notorious." "Let's just say I've met a lot of people who know me by my cookies."
  • "We built the kitchen — the whole house, really — for our stuff," says Dick Sweet from the back corner of his 150-square-foot, walk-in pantry. And he's not kidding.
    On the north wall is the butler's pantry, where Dick and his wife, Elaine, store their many sets of dinnerware. (They've got something for every occasion — tonight it's the Provençal-themed, yellow ceramic plates with a rooster painted on each to complement a Cajun menu of shrimp and sausage gumbo followed by Dick's spectacular bread pudding.)
    The south wall houses food and bar cabinets with features like extra-tall shelves on the insides of doors for lanky condiments.
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