Regina Humanitzki remembers planning a trip to California, a ride through the northern part of the state above San Francisco, and seeing a tour of kitchens being offered. It was the Sonoma Community Center and they wanted to build —Â appropriately enough — a kitchen in their center and decided to take visitors through several of the more interesting kitchens in the renowned wine country as a fund raiser.
Mrs. Humanitzki, who lives in a North Haven home fashioned as a lighthouse looking out over Sag Harbor, felt the idea could translate well here. And as a volunteer with the Sag Harbor Community Food Pantry, imagined a tour of kitchens — with a pinch of kitchen designers and a dash of specially prepared foods paired with wines — might well attract local foodies out of their early spring doldrums.
So, lined up next weekend are a half dozen local homeowners who are opening their houses to the curious cooks among us, showing off Sub Zero fridges and Viking stoves; granite counter tops, fireplaces and views of herb gardens and open water.
The tour will be a benefit for the food pantry, and comes at a crucial time.
“We thought it would be great when we need funds for this mid-year crisis,” said Mrs. Humanitzki.
This can be one of the toughest times at the food pantry, since those in need are often forgotten as the calendar moves further away from the holidays, when giving is usually the greatest. But, said Mrs. Humanitzki, the need frequently grows, especially for families with school-aged children who, as they break for summer vacation, no longer get the benefit of lunches at school.
Plus the demand of the food pantry has become greater. It serves about 70 families, up from about 30.
“The economic times are making it tougher on some families,” noted Mrs. Humanitzki., whose own home will be on the tour, which will be held on Saturday, May 31, from 12 noon to 4 p.m.
Inspired by the surroundings of the home’s site, the interior uses largely natural materials and colors, aside from several stainless steel surfaces. The windows look out over the harbor, the beach and a nature preserve, and the open plan brings the outdoors in.
It is a kitchen that is well-used and Mrs, Humanitzki, the mother of three who were teens all at the same time, said she frequently invited them into the kitchen to keep them busy. One son actually graduated from culinary school and is now a chef in New York City.
The kitchen features a semi-circular counter that separates the kitchen from the living and dining areas in this otherwise open floor plan. Topped with maroon and gray granite, as are most of the counters, it is faced in mahogany. The floors are Pennsylvania bluestone and the area at the foot of the work places has recesses where rubber floor mats make it easy on the chef’s feet.
“We wanted to use as many natural materials as we could,” said Mrs. Humanitzki.
The kitchen also features several niches that display the Humanitzkis’ collection of art from their travels, including Ethiopian processional crosses, a Cameroon musical bell, and a carved incense burner from Malaysia.
During the tour, guests are invited to sample a cup of hot clam chowder at the Humanitzki residence, donated by the Dock House, the winner of last year’s HarborFest chowder contest.
Each of the houses on the tour features a bite to eat, and at Susan Dusenberry’s house in North Haven, it’ll be tea sandwiches complements of caterer Tin Larsen.
The sandwiches will be served over an expansive view of the harbor in a home that now sits on the site of the historic Cook residence. The house that Susan and her husband Phil built, however, is only 10 years old, but is built with such attention to detailÂ and designed with such character that it feels like it has been a part of the landscape for decades, which is just how Susan wanted it.
“We wanted the house to feel that it had been added on to over the years,” she said. Like it had a history.
There are wide plank floors that had been pulled from a farm house in New England, and old wooden beams that give the young house some age.
In the kitchen, a breakfast nook looks out over an herb garden that was beginning to pop with colors last week. And just off the kitchen is an expansive screened in porch where guests can sit and watch as boats pass the breakwater in and out of the harbor.
The kitchen features a broad, granite-topped center island that includes its own sink —Â in addition to a farm sink on a nearby wallÂ — and provides ample prep area. Unique to this kitchen is a comfortable sitting area with a pair of overstuffed chairs, a small fireplace that faces toward the island, and a television that is hidden under the island’s counter.
Â “We joked that we could comfortably live in the kitchen, it had everything we needed,” said Mrs. Dusenberry.
Standing in the kitchen of a house in West Banks, Lillian Woudsma, director of the Sag Harbor Community Food Pantry, explains the need for funds this time if year.
“People think of helping around Christmas and New Year,” said Mrs. Woudsma. “But people are hungry all year long.”
She said the need crosses many social and cultural lines, including age, and said they hope to provide for everyone who needs it, from the little child who doesn’t have a sandwich for lunch, to the 93-year-old woman who drives herself to the pantry each week.
“My mission is to feed people who need it,” she said, “fresh and wholesome food.”
The home in West Banks, which she and her husband John own, is designed for entertaining, with a grand entry and formal rooms that overlook a field at the rear of the house. Next week, they will be offering guests samplings of sliced filet mignon courtesy of Cromer’s Market.
The kitchen is a warm and inviting place, with pine cabinets and travertine floor the color of sand, intersected in a grid of old oak barnsiding custom cut for the house.
There is a large eat-in area, anchored at one end by a gas-fired “wood-burning” stove in deep blue enamel. The Wolf stove is set in an area surrounded by tile and topped with a pot-filler faucet in brushed nickel, as are the other faucets and fixtures.
The kitchen was designed by Robert Wolfram, who will be on hand to answer questions about kitchen design.
Mr. Wolfram’s own home in Sag Harbor will also be on the tour.
“I’m blessed with a wife that loves to cook,” said Mr. Wolfram, and “I was lucky to be able to build the dream kitchen for her.”
They took a 15-year-old conventional kitchen and turned it into a showpiece, and the room is warm and comfortable with knotty pine cabinets and a book case that gives it a living room feel.
The cabinets are outfitted with double layer cutlery drawers, and the backsplash is tumbled slate and the counters are granite. The dining area opens up to an outdoor deck overlooking a well-tended garden.
Guests of the Wolframs will enjoy a cheese tasting with strawberries paired with champagne.
Another designer will be on hand next weekend. Rich Raffel, who designed the kitchen for Nancy and Mitchell Berkens will be at their home in Sag Harbor to field questions about kitchen design. The Berkens’ kitchen offers a nautical setting on Sag Harbor Cove, and actually evokes a luxury yacht, its windows shaped like a ship’s prow. The green six-burner DCS stoves offers a colorful counterpoint to the wide-planked Brazilian cherry floors. And for parties, warming drawers are a real plus, and there is a separate pantry and bar with a specially designed circular shelving system to store and display the bar’s offerings. For the tour, guests can enjoy cup cakes courtesy of Kathy Burton.
The final kitchen on the tour will be that of Jonathan Morse, in a 19th Century village classic. Mr. Morse, who once produced a cooking show from his kitchen, is an ardent chef, whose culinary philosophy is “Simple dishes done well.”
Mr. Morse ripped up six layers of linoleum to expose the original wood floors during a renovation in 1986, and has kept the circa 1940s appliances. On display is a collection of Griswold and Wagner cast iron cookware.
Guests will enjoy a collection of deli treats from caterer Mike Mozzolino’s Culinary Experience.
Tickets for the tour, which will feature kitchens that are all professionally staged by Erin Jenkens of Hamptons Staging, Co., are $50 and are available by sending a check to the Sag Harbor Community Food Pantry, PO Box 1241, Sag Harbor, NY 11963. Tickets are also available at Long Wharf Wines, 12 Bay Street, Sag Harbor, or In Home, 132 Main Street, Sag Harbor.