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Voyeurism goes legit

A Cook’s Tour invites you to see how others entertain

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The first year of A Cook’s Tour, Jessica Corddry recalled that the Junior League of Tacoma had to look within for homeowners willing to open their doors to up to 300 ticket holders. But by the following year, individuals walking through the tour saw how the event was organized and volunteered their homes and their time more freely.

“This year people were calling in and asking their homes to be considered,” says Corddry, a Junior League member who’s been involved in key capacities all three years.

Despite her key involvement — or perhaps because of it, since she was hostessing both years — Corddry has yet to experience A Cook’s Tour from house to house, chef to chef.

“This year I finally got to see the houses, and I am just blown away!” she told me while we sipped lavender lattes at Babblin’ Babs’ Bistro; William Mueller of the bistro will be one of the featured chefs, and is the only chef to have been there all three years.

Babblin’ babs’ Bistro will be joined Saturday, April 21 by Stadium Bistro, Masa, Pour at Four, and Gayle Orth Catering.

“It’s a fund raiser,” Corddry emphasizes.  Everything from homes, to food, to the time of the chefs, on down to the printing of the programs is donated for the event, with the proceeds going to the Junior League of Tacoma.

“The whole point of Junior League is to promote volunteerism,” explains Corddry.  Volunteers work toward the mission statement: “Women building better communities.” Junior League members pay dues to join, and then work toward accomplishing community impact goals.  In Tacoma this year, the focus of the volunteer efforts is K-8 literacy. 

But rather than simply stopping at book donations, or volunteering time tutoring, the intrepid League-ers do things like throwing a spaghetti feed for an entire school, or making a special evening for battered women by providing childcare and a Valentine’s Day dinner.

This weekend’s Cook’s Tour will be one of two major fund raisers for the League; proceeds don’t just buy spaghetti for feeds, they also fund community grants and scholarships.

And while some altruistic events leave participants with empty pockets and not a lot else, this event is different: for only $40, 300 people will be personally escorted to five homes. “They’re killer houses,” Corddry says — where chefs will prepare food, and decorators will showcase entertainment ideas.

“There’s something for everyone,” Corddry says.

For the voyeuristic type who might walk late in the evening just to sneak a peek in neighbors’ windows to see how they live, this event offers a legitimate glimpse into the homes of others.

And just in case questions arise about the interior features of the homes — what kind of dishwasher is that? What’s that paint color? — the Junior League can help.

“This year we took questions in and provided answers,” Corddry says.

The entertainer (or wannabe) will also find inspiration on the tables of the homes — designers and experts in décor will set up themed tables that mesh with the food being served.

And of course, there’s the food.

Food lovers will enjoy not just tasting items prepared in each home, they’ll also enjoy watching how the chefs cook them, and potentially learn a couple of tricks in the process.

And for the person who just likes to ride through neighborhoods with friends (or 13 strangers), there’s the “being chauffeured around” element of things.  Saturday’s tours will run at four different times, 10 a.m., noon, 2 and 4 p.m., starting at the Annie Wright School.  Five vans will carry up to 14 people from house to house, alternating homes.

Tickets are still available. “We’re not sold out yet — we will be,” Corddry says, adding, “We’re getting full.”

Though the success of the event so far bodes well for its potential, Corddry will allow, “it can be thought of as a lot of work.”

But she smiles as she says softly, “we’re making a difference.”

[A Cook’s Tour will feature tastes from Babblin’ Babs’ Bistro, Gayle Orth Catering, Masa, Pour at Four, and Stadium Bistro, as well as glimpses of five Tacoma homes, Saturday, April 21, 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m., $40, and are available as space on shuttle allows, five north Tacoma homes,  call 253.383.1030 for more information or go to]

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