By Mariann Hughes -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Homeowners who wonder what's cooking in the world of kitchen design and decorating need forage no farther than Frederick County to uncover some food for thought.
Quota International of Winchester, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the hearing impaired as well as disadvantaged women and children, is serving up its ninth annual Kitchen Kapers tour from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, boasting five mouthwatering kitchens on its menu for the public to sample.
Jo-Anne Barnard, the deputy co-chairwoman of the event, cited a back-to-the-kitchen trend as a great incentive to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon enjoying other people's homes.
"People like to stand around and drink wine and help the cook," she said. "People are trying to get back to cooking from scratch."
Barnard, an ardent student of French cookery for 25 years, is enthusiastic about the club's fundraiser.
"People naturally gravitate toward kitchens," she said. "[The tour is] a really fun afternoon."
For those looking to renovate a kitchen or get some ideas to spruce it up, or for those who just want a chance to drool over what they can't have with some cronies and a glass of wine, the Kitchen Kapers tour may be just the thing to jump-start them back into the kitchen -- while at the same time benefiting a good cause. Almost all of the event's proceeds will go to the Congregational Community Action Project of Winchester, a co-operative ministry of churches and a synagogue providing a range of assistance to those in need in the community (www.ccapwinc.org).
Shenandoah University President Tracy Fitzsimmons is one of five volunteers who will open their homes to the public this year. Usually the tour offers one historic kitchen, and her Middletown home of eight years fits the bill. The house was originally built in the 1880s as Shenandoah Normal College, a school for teachers. It then became Old Dominion Academy, which was destroyed by fire in 1914. The structure was rebuilt in 1917 as Reliance Elementary School. It functioned as a school until 1969.
"It's our obligation living in a historic house to share that with the community," Fitzsimmons said. "And if it benefits a worthy charity, it's a real bonus."
Fitzsimmons' kitchen, which Barnard praised as both beautiful and functional, boasts soapstone counters, white cupboards with glass doors, a black refrigerator and oven and deep white sinks.
The most striking element of the kitchen and dining room is a unique, slightly curved table made from a single branch of a tree, which Fitzsimmons and her husband shipped back home while visiting Panama.
Musicians from the university will perform at times during the tour at Fitzsimmons' residence.
Each home will feature a visiting food artisan who will keep attendees happy with samples of their wares.
The artisans include Chef Maggie Edwards, the manager of Country Inn & Suites; Your Confection Connection; Salute! Wine Market; Oak Spring Dairy; Tropical Smoothie Café; and Marker-Miller Orchard Farm Market and Bakery.
Barnard said the club will also raffle off four items: a $500 gift certificate from Anna Quinn Jeweler; a framed P. Buckley Moss print; a wall hanging made by a local quilter; and a gift certificate for Harvest Moon Natural Foods.
Local artist Eugene Smith, of the Eugene B. Smith Gallery, has donated an original, framed work of art. Sealed bids will be accepted on the day of the tour and a live auction will follow.
The fundraiser is the Winchester Quota club's biggest moneymaker of the year, sometimes bringing in between $8,000 and $10,000. Last year, the club donated approximately $5,000 to the Salvation Army, Barnard said.
Tickets for Kitchen Kapers are available for $15 in person before the event at The Daily Grind (Jubal Early); Never Enough Yarn (Millwood Avenue); The Country Store (Senseny Road); Beyond the Fringe (Loudoun Street); Robert P. Mowery, CPA, PC (Stephens City); and McKay's Flooring & Interiors (Berryville). Tickets can also be obtained at the door of any of the five homes the day of the event for $20. The addresses are listed on quotaofwinchester.org. Attendees may pick any home to begin their tour -- and visit them in any order.
For more information on Quota International, visit the worldwide group's Web site at www.quota.org. For questions about the local club, visit www.quotaofwinchester.org or call Lee Perkins at 662-7147.