North Huntingdon woman helps organize 'Art in the Kitchen' tour
When Jennifer Miele-Cinti of North Huntingdon offered up her home as a location to host an Excela Health Christmas auction event, she couldn't help but notice the then-CEO's wife, Marie Gallatin, checking out her kitchen.
“I think she was eyeing it up the whole time!” Miele-Cinti said.
Gallatin is one of the organizers for the Westmoreland Museum of American Art's “Art in the Kitchen ... Plus!” tour taking place on Oct. 5, and Miele-Cinti's will be among the featured kitchens on the self-guided tour.
Miele-Cinti and her husband, Dr. Jason Cinti, live in a housing plan built on the former Lincoln Hills Golf Club, and the house is built to take advantage of the natural vistas the landscape offers.
“On the side of the kitchen, we have a morning room, which we added through our builder, Bob Schuster,” Miele-Cinti said. “It has giant windows, and you can sit there in the morning eating breakfast and watching the sun come up.”
The family's kitchen has a double-level 8-foot bar, with a hibachi grill on the lower level and a dining area on the upper level. It also features double ovens, granite counters and a crushed-granite sink.
“It is pretty awesome, I have to tell you,” she said. “We tried to make it a very social kitchen.”
The concept for the “Art in the Kitchen” tour started with a cookbook produced by the museum, said Arlene Kendra, publicity chairwoman for the event.
“With ‘Art in the Kitchen,' each house has a little sample food from one of the recipes in the cookbook,” Kendra said. The first cookbook was published in 1995.
The tour, which benefits the museum, is organized through the museum's Women's Committee, which, Kendra said, has donated more than $400,000 over the years to help fund exhibits, building renovations and other needs.
“The committee was founded in 1960, a year after the museum, and the first thing they bought was a silver tea service,” said Kendra, of Greensburg. “Over the years, they bought many paintings, which, at that time, didn't cost nearly as much. Now, when we buy something, it has to be in partnership with others.”
The Women's Committee is all-volunteer.
“Some work in the gift shop, some are docents, and others help organize fundraising events such as ‘Art in the Kitchen,'” Kendra said.
This is the 16th year for “Art in the Kitchen,” and, Kendra said, the committee was looking for something different.
“We've been doing it for so many years that we wanted to find something new, so some of our kitchens feature unique outdoor spaces and different features,” she said.
A unique space
When Mary Senuta of Greensburg was decorating her family room, she fell in love with the reds and golds she chose.
“Our family room is sort of done in Tuscan colors, and we carried that into the morning room and the kitchen,” she said.
The Senutas' home has an open floor plan, and their kitchen leads to the morning room and into the family room.
“It's a great entertaining space for family holidays; you can fit quite a large group of people there, and from the kitchen, you can see all the way through to the family room,” Senuta said.
A friend of Senuta's is a member of the Women's Committee and recommended adding her house to the tour.
Senuta said she enjoys having room to maneuver while cooking.
“I don't want to make it sound like it's huge, but it's spacious enough that it makes cooking pleasurable,” she said. “My husband loves to cook, too, so he'll come home from work sometimes and put on a pot of soup. Plus you can have eight or nine people in the kitchen and not feel cramped.”
Space seems to be a unifying feature among this year's featured kitchens. The home of Joseph and Filippa Ponsi of Hempfield also is open and inviting.
“It has some beautiful granite countertops and backsplashes,” said Filippa Ponsi, whose kitchen was also featured on the 2011 tour. “It's a cherry kitchen with a center island and a granite breakfast bar that will seat about eight people.”
The Ponsis' kitchen features a Viking stove with six burners and a desk area for planning special menus.
“The view from the kitchen is beautiful because we live on a Standardbred horse farm, so there are always horses when you look out the window,” Filippa Ponsi said.
The tour of the Ponsis' kitchen will be led by local artist Lynne Mack, who created several of the paintings on display at their home.
“In the breakfast area, there's a mural of the house where my mother grew up in Italy, which Lynne painted. She also did the artwork in the dining and piano rooms,” Filippa Ponsi said.
Mack will lead the tour, answer any questions about the artwork and will also take visitors through the Ponsis' conservatory and patio, which features a marble fireplace.
So what does Ponsi like best about her kitchen?
“Truthfully, I like takeout, and so does my husband!” she said with a laugh. “But it's a very nice kitchen; it's easy and efficient, and you have a lot of room to move around when you're cooking.”
Cooking with the pros
The tour will not just feature local residents with beautiful kitchen designs; it also will look at how the professionals operate.
Seth Bailey, head chef at the Café at The Frick in Pittsburgh, will showcase his culinary talent at the art museum's temporary location, Westmoreland @rt 30, 4764 State Route 30 in Unity, between Greensburg and Latrobe.
Raised on a West Virginia farm, Bailey grew up with the whole family cooking in the kitchen.
“We raised our own vegetables, hunted and fished, and it was a nice way to tie everything together on the table,” said Bailey, 32, of McCandless.
For the tour, Bailey will be doing sushi-rolling demonstrations.
“We'll discuss how to buy your fish, how to prepare the rice and show how to put everything together for a couple different types of rolls,” said Bailey, adding that he hopes to find some late-season wild king salmon to use in the demonstration.
Bailey will be doing demonstrations at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Chef Greg Andrews, 47, of Greensburg also will welcome tour participants into the working professional kitchen at The Supper Club at The Greensburg Train Station, 101 Ehalt St.
Taking the tour
The tour will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., starting with Bailey's presentation at Westmoreland @rt 30. Participants can start there or at the six other tour sites. Tickets are $25 in advance and are available at Westmoreland @rt 30, the Greenhouse Winery at the Westmoreland Mall, Never Enough! Boutique in Greensburg, Rose Style Shoppe in Latrobe; G Squared Gallery in Ligonier and Morninglory in Murrysville. On the day of the tour, tickets will be $30 and available only at Westmoreland @rt 30, from 9 a.m. to noon.
For more information, call 724-837-1500 or visit WMuseumAA.org.
Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or email@example.com.