“Baking is how you start kids at cooking in the kitchen. It’s fun whether it’s baking bread or cookies. With baking, you have to be exact when it comes to ingredients.”

Sandra Lee

I originally wasn’t going to write about this at all but then I figured it is an event that some of you might want to know about if you were debating on going next year so here it is!  Also, I’m posting this on a Thursday because I don’t really know where else to put this so, Thursday it is! I won tickets to the Taste of Home Cooking Show (May 14) from The Saratogian. This event was held at the Saratoga City Center which, if you haven’t been in there, is beautiful and a great venue right in Downtown.

I love cooking and going to cooking shows so I was very excited when I won VIP tickets ($60 value) to this event. As VIPs we were allowed to show up before the doors officially opened (4:00PM) and snack on some delicious Price Chopper goodies. Nothing was enough for a full dinner though, which I wish I knew ahead of time but it was still all very delicious. Before the doors opened, Chef Michael Barna came in and discussed what he was going to be cooking for us and answered any general cooking questions. He’s a great guy, put a little dry humor into everything which I appreciated. He also told us that we had signed cookbooks in our goodie bags with plenty more recipes from Taste of Home. Yay!

Before the show officially started, we had time to check out some of the vendors and I was a little disappointed. There were only a handful of vendors, no more than 20, and at least 4 of them didn’t even show up. Took about 10 minutes to go through the vendors that weren’t particularly in any way related to the cooking show before it was time to sit down. As VIPs, we were able to sit in the first 4 rows and every seat had a sample of Naan to help out in our making of one of his recipes.

As we were waiting for the chef to get ready, The Racing City Chorus performed some A Capella numbers. They have great voices! My favorite was their rendition of some Beach Boys hits. Since they’re a local, you can check them out at their next event, worth the trip! They’re a strictly male chorus and they mentioned that they’re ALWAYS looking for more men to take part, just send them an email or drop by one of their practices to see what it’s all about- all the information is on their website.

After the musical entertainment, it was time for the cooking show to start (7:00PM). Overall, it was very informative. Chef Michael, as I mentioned before, is a great public speaker and never lost his audience’s attention even if the show itself was a little long and didn’t end until 9:00pm-9:30pm.

In our goodie bags was a magazine where he got all 6 of the recipes from so we could follow along and take notes if needed. The recipes he went over were the Grilled Chicken in Mango Chipotle Mayo, Mushroom Tacos with Salsa Verde,  Asparagus Strudel, Taco Casserole, Peanut Butter Cheesecake and Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes. Not only did everything smell delicious but with each recipe we learned about a new cool little gadget that they sell on their website and none of them are terribly expensive. After the show, we each had a red ticket and they gave away tons of prizes from cookbooks to pan sets to American flags to some of the dishes he cooked that night. Sadly, somehow, I didn’t win a single thing.

Since the VIPs got there earlier than everyone else, by the end of the demonstration and smelling all the delicious food I was starving. I enjoyed the demonstration but if I’m gonna go next year, the $60 price of the VIP tickets just aren’t worth it. The only added bonus to the $60 versus the regular $15 entrance fee is a signed cookbook ($30 without signature) and appetizers by Price Chopper instead of eating dinner at home. My suggestion was to make the show earlier and add to the VIP experience and let the VIPs taste the food after the show then people would be more apt to spend the $60.  The desserts looked the best and typing this I’m remembering how simple the chocolate strawberry shortcakes looked and that I may want to try to recreate that one first! If you’re interested in any of the recipes I mentioned, write a comment or send me an email at 518BitesNSights@gmail.com and I’ll be sure to send it your way! 🙂