Style and function: A sneak peek in the Girlchoir Tour kitchens

April 13, 2013 9:35:56 PM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


Comfortable and inviting. That's what the three kitchens on the 2013 Columbus Girlchoir Tour of Kitchens have in common -- that often elusive quality that makes a space the heart of a home. On April 20, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Roger and Donna Burlingame, Patti Griffin and John and Linda Scarbrough will open their Bent Tree community homes in North Columbus, offering tour-goers a glimpse into how they combine style and function in what many call the most important room in the house. 


To enhance the tour experience, Columbus chefs will prepare tantalizing finger foods and sweets, and local floral designers will decorate each location with creative arrangements. Here is a sneak peak. 


At the Burlingame home, Columbus-based designer Penny Bowen, with input from Donna Burlingame, designed an attractive kitchen and keeping room that bring the family together without having everyone in the same traffic flow. 


"The keeping room and kitchen are where we live," said Burlingame. "I can view the room and talk with Roger or company from the island or kitchen sink while I work or cook."  


The home's hostess won't have to do the cooking April 20. Chef John Cusanelli, executive chef at The Grill at Jackson Square, an Eat With Us Group restaurant, will bring back his stuffed mushrooms that debuted to rave reviews on the 2012 tour. He'll also prepare a barbecue flatbread as well as bite-size brownies, from scratch. 


Tammy Youngblood of The Ivy Cottage Florist in Columbus will decorate the setting with floral arrangements. 


"We try to do something that complements the home," said the florist. "We look for things that are a little bit unusual and come up with a variety of designs." 




At the Griffin home 


When Patti Griffin remodeled her kitchen in 2008, space was near the top of her life.  


"I've always loved kitchens because I just love to cook," said Griffin, who added more work space and larger stove top. A 10-foot island and clean, sleek lines marry well with her penchant for experimenting with new recipes. A distinctive feature near the kitchen is a wine/wet bar. 


"In the renovation we turned a little storage closet into a wet bar that's great for entertaining and for keeping soft drinks and beverages cold when family all gathers around," she said. 


Marty Wages of Table of Plenty will tempt tour-goers at the Griffin home with shrimp and grits and a taste of praline. 


"This is one of the things I look forward each year," Wages said. "I have friends who have children in the choir and I enjoy seeing them sing. We're glad to support them." 


Floral arrangements by Renee Perkerson of Joy's Gifts and Flowers will decorate the Griffin home. 




The Scarbrough home 


"Livable. That's how I'd describe our kitchen," said Linda Scarbrough, estimating that she spends about 90 percent of her time there. "The kitchen always seems to be the central place in our house, the place where we always land, so we built it big on purpose." 


The Scarbrough's kitchen, which flows into a dining area, is bathed in earth tones. "I find them extremely calming and comfortable. Comfortable is the key to our house," she remarked. 


Chef Sarah Labensky, director of hospitality and food service at East Mississippi Community College's Lion Hills Golf Club, will prepare her own take on comfort food, with a gourmet touch.  


"We're going to have cranberry walnut chicken salad, and a Southern rumaki, country sausage stuffed in a date and wrapped in bacon," said Labensky, who will also prepare a dessert. 


Tulips, hydrangeas, iris and other spring flowers will show off in arrangements by Loretta Shelton of Bokay's Flowers and Gifts in Columbus. 


All the homeowners are eager to support the Columbus Girlchoir and welcome the community on Saturday. 


"We're honored to be able to offer our kitchens on tour to benefit the choir," said Burlingame. "We think it's a wonderful cause, a great opportunity for young women to use and grow their talent." 


Tour tickets are $20, available at the Rosenzweig Arts Center, the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center, Party and Paper, Pizazz and from Girlchoir members. For more information, contact George Hazard at 662-251-9272.

Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.