Popular chef back at annual cooking school

WARREN – It’s time to start thinking of cool days and comfort foods, and the Tribune Chronicle has it covered. Popular chef Eric Villegas returns this year as the annual Taste of Home cooking school gets fired up at Packard Music Hall.

Tickets go on sale Monday for the Oct. 7 event and everyone participating will go home with ideas to create simple, flavorful meals like those introduced at the show.

Drawings for door prizes, free goodie bags, local specialty vendors, and a chance to win a recliner and another premium prize are all part of the evening. Villegas, of Williamston, Mich., will host the local cooking school for the second year.

“The Tribune is pleased to welcome chef Villegas back to the show. Last year, the audience really enjoyed his upbeat personality and had a lot of fun,” Shafer said. “He will cook 10 recipes from the provided cookbook so people can follow along.”

Also returning this year is the national Cooks Who Care program, created by Taste of Home to celebrate acts of caring by home cooks. Attendees who donate nonperishable food items at the door will be entered to win a special prize.

“We’re excited to include the Cooks Who Care program to our market. We realize that many families are in need and it’s the perfect event to share with our neighbors,” Shafer said.

Just before the cooking demonstration begins, a name will be drawn to win the Best Seat in the House. Morgan Furniture has donated a recliner that will be placed on stage and one ticket-holder will enjoy a cozy place to relax and watch the demonstration.

After the show, the recliner goes home with the lucky winner.

Ticket-holders just need to fill out a form for a chance to win the Best Seat in the House as well as dozens of other door prizes. Goodie bags full of coupons, recipes and sample products will also be offered to all attendees and include a cookbook with the recipes featured in the day’s presentation.

About 12 local vendors and businesses will offer goodies of their own, selling candles, purses, chocolate and the latest edition of the Taste of Home cookbook at a discount price. O’Charley’s will have food for purchase throughout the evening.

While a $10 ticket provides admission to the Taste of Home cooking school, goodie bags and door prize entries, guests who pay $20 get VIP treatment, which includes special seating at the front of the auditorium and a separate entrance.

A total 1,300 tickets are available this year, and even fewer VIP seats.

“Buy tickets now. They go fast and we sell out each year,” Shafer said.

Interested participants can buy a ticket from the advertisement in the paper or contact Shafer at 330-841-1696 or at sshafer@tribtoday.com.