In 2020, the Hinsdale Historical Society Women’s Board was ready to host its 15th annual Hinsdale Cooks! Kitchen Walk when the global pandemic threw in an unwanted spice into the recipe. Putting the much-anticipated event on the backburner, as everyone was forced to spend their lives quarantined, in 2021, the women’s board chose to add two different types of servings to the menu. First, an updated, seasonal appropriate take on a classic and the second was a whole new dish—the Outdoor Edition.
The Hinsdale Cooks! Kitchen Walk became a luncheon this year due to the unforeseen circumstances the pandemic has brought along with it; this year adding a virtual component. This new take on a classic event was held on Mother’s Day weekend where ambassadors hosted mini parties with pre-prepared meals, sponsored by Vistro Prime. Ticket holders were also able to attend virtually through Facebook and Instagram from their own homes. Here, attendees admired table settings, interior designs, as well as viewed the raffle drawing filled with luxe goodies—all in real time.
The group added a second course to its fundraising menu this year—the Hinsdale Cooks! Kitchen Walk: Outdoor Edition. This new addition was enjoyed on June 25, where instead of touring the interiors of homeowners’ kitchens like in years past, the Outdoor Edition took to homeowners’ patios and gardens.
“We all grew to truly appreciate what the great outdoors has to offer after being confined to our homes during the pandemic year of 2020,” says Walker Rediehs, co-chair of the Women’s Board’s Hinsdale Cooks! Kitchen Walk: Outdoor Edition. “Many homeowners considered their backyards and gardens to be extensions of their living space.”
With that in mind, the Women’s Board felt it was appropriate to showcase the homeowners’ outdoor living spaces—believing ticket holders were not yet ready to mingle indoors and homeowners not ready to open their figurative menus to the 1,000-plus guests with COVID-19 etiquette in limbo.
The group’s new outdoor editions proved to be a recipe for success, greatly in part to the overwhelming community support.
“It takes a village and this event proves that,” says Rediehs. “We had gracious homeowners who offered up their spaces for a day of showcasing, and the village and beyond, came out in droves to see them.” Rediehs adds the Hinsdale Women’s Board wouldn’t be able to have had this event without the sponsors, advertisers, and donors, many of them being Hinsdale residents or local business owners themselves.
“Preparation is typically a year-long process involving a large team of individuals,” says Ruta Brigden, co-chair of Hinsdale Cooks! Kitchen Walk: Outdoor Edition. “This year, we had a bit less time to plan.”
But everyone involved came through tenfold. Local restaurants including Altamura, Fuller House, Il Mio, and Nabuki provided appetizers and libations, and local interior designers and shops including Alioto’s and Kate Marnell Interiors, created sumptuous tablescapes. Even local florists and landscapers, like Petal Pushers Florists, Vagabond, and Vern Goers Greenhouse, completed the final touches on the table settings, patios, and gardens.
“Local businesses donated their time, services, and products to make people feel like they were attending a different event at each home,” says Brigden.
And the gathering of community volunteers didn’t stop there. Not only did these local businesses come together to make the event possible in short order, but several committee chairs, house captains, and docents committed their talents from ushering people through the featured homes and educating guests on the outdoor areas, to those overseeing the catering, setup, and décor.
“At the end of the day, we had about 100 volunteers to thank. Everyone brings different strengths to the table, and it is great to see how a team of people can pull together and make an event like this happen each year,” she says.
Then of course, there are the homeowners who were gracious enough to open their outdoor spaces to the public for viewing. This year, there were seven properties that represented a variety of styles.
“Some of the homes had tranquil pools and outdoor garden areas, some focused on lively entertaining, and one was a horse farm!” says Brigden.
Other outdoor spaces included a bohemian-style oasis, an Italian loggia, and a Great Gatsby, Art-Deco inspired setting. With each property’s uniqueness, the goal was that there was something for everyone to enjoy.
“We hoped that attendees would leave feeling inspired and appreciate the differences each outdoor space brought,” Brigden says.
Keeping guests’ safety in mind, there were two tours on the day of the event. There was a VIP Trolly available, which had a limited capacity of 200 guests, where passengers enjoyed pre-tour drinks and hors d’oeuvres at either Fuller House or Marcus, before being shuttled to each home.
For Liz Oliverio, co-chair of Hinsdale Cooks! Kitchen Walk: Outdoor Edition, the gathering of friends from the community was the most enjoyable. “Who doesn’t love a good home-and-outdoor-spaces tour filled with light bites, refreshments, and friends,” she says of the event which benefits the Hinsdale Historical Society’s efforts to preserve Hinsdale’s history, heritage, and artifacts.
“The Hinsdale Cooks! Kitchen Walk event in previous years, was the largest annual fundraising event hosted by the Hinsdale Historical Society, and we wanted this new Outdoor Edition to prove to be even better,” she adds.
Hinsdale Historical Society is located at 15 S. Clay Street in Hinsdale, 630-789-2600, kitchen-walk.com.