Fit For A Queen

A Cook's Tour of Kitchens

This year’s tour of local kitchens features string trios, food prepared by a renowned chef, and even a castle!

On September 18th, five area homes will open their doors to the public, inviting guests into their kitchens for the biennial Cook’s Tour, a fundraiser for the Peoria Medical Society Alliance. The self-guided tour runs from 10am to 4pm, highlighting the distinctive character of these dwellings—from subway-tile backsplash to large, functional islands to beautiful hardwood floors.

This year’s homes will feature a range of unique kitchens in and around Peoria, including Kyle and Kelly Epley’s custom-designed home in Chadwick Estates; Mr. and Mrs. Charu Bhanti’s forest-secluded residence in Edwards’ Waterstone community; Jameson and Ala Shefts’ brick home and spacious lot in Dunlap; the Rashids’ Georgian-style home in wooded Georgetowne Estates; and the “Castle”—Dr. Carl Soderstrom’s medieval-inspired mansion in Peoria Heights, built in 1928.

The latter has taken up a legend of its own over the years. Sitting high along the river bluffs of Grandview Drive, the historic home boasts an eagle-eye view of the river and decades of fond memories from area residents. Some recall its wonder years of hosting trick-or-treaters, when previous owners would play eerie music, hire costume-clad “scarers” and offer lavish treats and engraved pencils stating: “Happy Halloween from the Castle.” The story goes it was commissioned by the father of a bride, eager to please his daughter on her return from a honeymoon spent sketching castles in Europe. Today, it still inspires as an exquisite backdrop to photo shoots, special events, overnight stays—and now, a grand home tour.

Alongside a variety of local vendors and florists—including Willow Tree, Sherri Earnst Jewelry, Olio and Vino, Hearth and Patio, Gregg’s Florist, Enchanted Florist and Sterling Florist—the Peoria Symphony Orchestra will serenade guests with a different trio at each stop, and an amazing lunch will be served at Mount Hawley Country Club. Jameson Shefts will offer samples of his locally-crafted Jaymo’s barbeque sauce, and Chef Dustin Allen of the Edge will prepare a meal at one of the homes, sharing healthy recipe tips and inspiring attendees to cook well… and cook often. a&s

Tickets for the Cook’s Tour are $25 or $100 for five. For tickets or more information, visit or find “2014 PMSA Cook’s Tour” on Facebook.