From Their Homes to Yours

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Utilizing new technology, the Junior League of Wilmington re-envisions its largest fundraiser, this year fittingly entitled Kitchen Tour – Reimagined!

Due to the pandemic, the Junior League of Wilmington had to cancel its Kitchen Tour last year. This year, instead of physically inviting guests into the showcased kitchens, they are turning the tables so to speak, and bringing the featured kitchens into the homes of the guests.

Call it a 180-degree turnaround with 360-degree views.

By offering virtual, self-guided tours of the nine kitchens featured this year, Kitchen Tour – Reimagined! not only solves the problem posed by COVID, but also gives participants additional benefits that were not available before. All from the comfort of their own homes.

“In years past, tour-goers had only one day to see the kitchens on the tour, but this year ticket-holders have access to the virtual kitchens for a full month,” says event chair Tara Wheeler. “They’ll also have access to product information right at their fingertips. If they want to know about an appliance or a light fixture, the link is one click away.

And there’s more, says Wheeler. “We’re also so excited to be offering live virtual cooking classes this year with local chefs,” she says. “This is something we have never done before and, if it is received well, I can see us continuing to offer this new feature as a part of future Kitchen Tour events.”

The classes will take place throughout the month in a live, virtual format, where chefs and hospitality professionals: guide their virtual guests through the process of preparing ricotta gnocchi; step through a seasonal-tart recipe; or show how to build a charcuterie board with custom cocktail pairings. The class options are designed to appeal to a variety of participants for a variety of occasions.

Among the local celebrities conducting classes are Chef Robbie Jester of Full Circle Food and Great Big Jerk; Chef Dan Butler of Piccolina Toscana; mixologist Erin Noonan of Magnolia House; and Jillian Harris of The Cute in Charcuterie (Harris also graces our cover this month).

Junior League’s website promises a look at a variety of kitchens of different styles and sizes — all of which offer “unique features, designs, and quality craftsmanship, promising to ignite the imaginations of all who attend.”

For Wheeler, who has worked on two previous tours and is chairing her second this year, it is rewarding (but maybe not surprising) that her team figured out a way to make its Kitchen Tour happen this year.

“This is what the Junior League of Wilmington has always done best — we find new solutions to the issues we’re faced with,” Wheeler says. “The women [in this organization] have always impressed me, and I can’t be more proud to be a part of the League this year.

“No matter what the outcome is for our fundraiser, we know we are putting forth our best efforts to provide a unique, exciting experience in a safe and responsible way.”

Since 2004, the Kitchen Tour has been the Junior League of Wilmington’s largest fundraising effort. Proceeds from the Tour support the League’s new initiative, Stand Up. Period.

“We are committed to raising awareness of period (menstrual) equality in Wilmington and working towards ensuring individuals have affordable and equitable access to period supplies,” says Jessica Chapple, president of the Junior League of Wilmington. “The funds from the event allow us to bring in specialized speakers to train our members, purchase period supplies to donate at community events, and more.

“Now, more than ever, our community needs us, and we knew we had to find a way to continue our efforts,” Chapple says.

Wheeler says the tour always gets return visitors and feels its ongoing appeal lies in the fact that people enjoy getting ideas for remodeling their kitchens and picturing the kinds of meals they can create in them.

“We hope this year’s tour still brings people together around the kitchen as the heart of the home, despite its virtual nature,” Wheeler says. “Each virtual Kitchen Tour ticket is good per household and we encourage tour-goers to attend the cooking classes ‘together’ from their own homes.”

This year’s tour is sponsored by DuPont, Signature Construction, Giorgi Kitchens & Designs, Craft-way Kitchens, Waterbury Kitchen & Bath, Cheryl Umbles Interior Design, WSFS, Out & About Magazine, Catalyst Visuals and Wheeler Home Concepts.

—Tickets and details about Kitchen Tour – Reimagined! can be found at jlwilmington.org/tickets. Each tour ticket is $30 and includes a complimentary cooking class. Additional cooking classes can also be purchased on the website.

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