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Many people consider the kitchen the most important room in a house — certainly the most functional.

And, what could be a better way to see some of our area’s finest home kitchens than to take a tour and help raise funds for local cancer programs at the same time?

This Saturday, April 4, from noon to 5 p.m., the Chesapeake Cancer Alliance is sponsoring its second annual Dream Kitchens Tour.

Since its founding in 2003, the Chesapeake Cancer Alliance has partnered with the Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation to raise money for its Cancer LifeNet Programs. Past fund-raisers include last year’s Festival of Trees, a Christmas House Tour and the Christmas Gift Wrap at Harford Mall.

Founded in 2006, Cancer LifeNet, is in the new Physicians Building II at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air. The organization provides free information, support and service to cancer patients and their family members.

Those who choose to participate in this year’s Dream Kitchens Tour will have the opportunity to visit five kitchens owned by local residents and designed and built by local companies.

The tour promises great variety in design and decorating, with plenty of styles on display and a virtual guide to designing your own kitchen.

This year’s Dream Kitchens were designed by area businesses, including Rojahn Kitchens, Churchville Kitchens, Rooms with a View, Cornerstone Kitchens and Glenangus Homes.

Jack LaCesa, owner of Rojhan Kitchens, explains the reason behind the enthusiastic participation by area businesses.

“Everyone involved has a cancer story,” LaCesa said.

Jim Kunkel, an owner of Courtland Hearth and Hardware in Bel Air, has a story of his own. He is opening up his kitchen in memory of his late wife Molly O. Kunkel, a registered nurse with the Transvers Myelitis Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She passed away from cancer in 2007.

“I did it because my wife designed this kitchen three years ago,” Kunkel said.

Some highlights of Kunkel’s kitchen include the potfiller faucet above the stove, a wine bar and top-of-the-line Viking appliances.

“It is the kitchen she [Molly] always wanted,” Kunkel explained.

Of course, kitchen displays won’t be the only highlight. Dazzling cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs will also be occurring throughout the day.

Warren Brown, host of the Food Network’s “Sugar Rush” will be featured. Also appearing are Alice Azar, expert in Lebanese cuisine; Maryland Golf and Country Club Executive Chef Matt Slater; Marleen Baumgartner, owner of Fritzie’s Deli and Catering; Clarence Hill, owner of Clarence’s Taste of New Orleans; and executive chef Alice Koppenhofer, of Bliss Coffee and Wine Bar. Also expected to be in attendance is author and WHFC Radio “Jazz in the Morning” host Gary Helton.

Those taking the tour will also be eligible for raffle prizes including gift certificates to local restaurants and shops, a wine tasting at Mt. Felix Vineyard and Winery and an interactive cooking less in your home by Fritzi’s Deli and Catering.

The Dream Kitchens Tour drew a large following last year and is expected to do well this year.

Kathy Welch, publicity chair for the Dream Kitchens Tour, explained its success has a lot to do with the importance that the kitchen holds in daily life.

“The kitchen is the heart of the home,” Welch said.

The event is also popular among homeowners who are searching for innovative renovation concepts.

“They are looking for remodeling ideas and new appliances,” Welch said.

For the tour, 400 tickets are on sale, but they are going quickly. They should be purchased in advance and cost $25 each. They can be picked up at Preston’s Stationery, HeartBeat, Rooms with a View and Cornerstone Kitchens.

Admission includes a description of each kitchen display, demonstration schedules and directions to each home.

Proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center’s LifeNet Programs.

For more information about the Chesapeake Cancer Alliance or Cancer LifeNet, call 443-617-1220 or visit www.chesapeakecanceralliance.org or www.uchcancer.org.


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