Newlywed Theresa Straub walked away from the Taste of Home Cooking School Thursday evening armed with new recipes to prepare for her new husband.
“I learned lots of stuff to cook. I have lots of options now, new and easy recipes to add to my options for dinner,” the Yuma resident said.
The popular cooking school drew more than 1,000 residents and winter visitors eager to learn from Chef Eric Villegas, the Emmy-winning star of the PBS television show “Fork in the Road.”
Attendees walked away with recipes compiled by the Taste of Home cooking magazine and goody bags stuffed with sponsor products, recipes, gadgets and coupons.
Villegas demonstrated 10 recipes, including steak and blue cheese bruschetta, cinnamon rolls and braised beef short ribs. The audience watched on a big screen as he cooked in real time.
The high-energy chef (“Can you tell I've been drinking coffee since 4 o'clock?”) prefers simple recipes. “It's not brain surgery,” he said.
The audience hooted and hollered as he interspersed humor with cooking demonstrations, video tips and prize giveaways, which ranged from cookware and gift cards to leftover ingredients. He even gave away the prepared dishes at the end of the show.
A small group of VIPs met the chef and received a cookbook signed by Villegas. He gave them a personal tour of the stage and posed for photos with them. They were treated to a dinner of Taste of Home recipes prepared by “Yuma Foodie” columnist Karla Billdt.
The number of people who showed up surprised Villegas. “It was a lot more people than we thought, well over a thousand,” he said.
“It went very well. No one died,” he joked. “It was just a really lively crowd. It was all about getting people excited about cooking and making good food.”
His excitement seems to have rubbed off on Canadian winter visitor Sherry Adams. “He was lots of fun. He keeps your attention. He has a great sense of humor. And the recipes are good.”
The Yuma Sun-sponsored event raised money for Newspapers In Education, a program that promotes the use of the newspaper in the classroom.
Mara Knaub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.