By ALISA MANNA
WARREN - Culinary specialist Eric Villegas said Taste of Home Cooking School's audience members at the Oct. 8 show should expect nonstop excitement and great recipes from iconic chefs.
Special to the Tribune Chronicle
Culinary specialist Eric Villegas will be entertaining audience members at the Oct. 8 Taste of Home Cooking School.
"I'm going to show off familiar companies," he said. "It's all fun, quick, simple and real."
Born and raised in Saginaw, Mich., Villegas started cooking with his parents as a child, using local, fresh ingredients. His family grew up along the bay, an area he said was quite ideal for an aspiring cook.
"It was a wonderful place growing up. Not only was it a little bit urban, but it was great farmland, and I love that type of childhood."
Villegas was primarily influenced by his parents' culture and their love of food. He grew up in a Bolivian household, giving him a wide and varied palette, he said.
"My father's love of great food and wine sparked my passion for food," Villegas said.
He spent two years in France and attended Anne Wilson's LaVarenne Ecole de Cuisine and Steven Spurrier's Academie du Vin before he studied at the New England Culinary Institute.
Now, with two restaurants, two cookbooks and two Emmy awards for his television show "Fork in the Road with Eric Villegas," he's honored to travel across the country, visit different communities and learn what people in different parts of the world are eating.
"You see taco trucks in Arizona, eat lobster rolls on the east coast and eat traditional Texan food," Villegas said. "I'm excited to meet new people from all walks of life with different recipes."
Villegas said Taste of Home only has nine culinary specialists and about 300 scheduled shows that cater to more than 300,000 people, so the recipes used in the presentations are simple and easy to replicate.
"We're all about cooking, sharing and caring," he said.
He said it's important for all of the audience members to be able to try everything seen at the show in their own kitchens, especially when most recipes in the cookbook or on the website were submitted by home cooks and fellow readers.
"It's the audience's food we're making on the site," Villegas said. "We've published thousands of their recipes, and now they can see them."
The Taste of Home Cooking School starts at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 8 at Packard Music Hall. This is Villegas' first year in Warren, and he hopes to provide helpful cooking tips and great memories with his step-by-step presentation.
"I'm going to cook everything from light, savory appetizers to delicious desserts," he said. "And it's all great for the holiday season."
Attendees will receive a goodie bag including the Taste of Home Cooking School magazine, coupons and recipes featured in the show. Everyone also has an opportunity to enter for a chance to win door prizes and more.
Sponsored by the Tribune Chronicle, this year's event includes the Cooks Who Care program, Taste of Home's national program that celebrates acts of caring by home cooks.
All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Newspapers in Education program, and anyone who also brings nonperishable food items at the door will receive a ticket to win a table top Kitchenmaid mixer donated by Home Savings Bank. Those food items will then be donated to local food banks.
Don't miss this opportunity to enjoy a day of good friends, good conversation, good food and a good cause.
"We're pleased this year to welcome a new culinary specialist to the show," Sue Shafer, Tribune Chronicle events coordinator, said. "He's good at explaining what he's doing, providing cooking tips and being entertaining. I think the audience will really enjoy his upbeat personality. He's really fun."
For more information and to buy tickets, contact Shafer at 330-841-1696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.