I've see ads for their cooking school in previous years, but they were not close enough to home, or not at a good time, and for some reason, I thought the prices were higher. I could be wrong, but I don't remember them being as low as this year's school.
Another thing that made this year's school interesting to me was the culinary specialist (speaker/chef) was Eric Villegas. That name probably doesn't mean much to you, but I used to have watch him when he had a show on PBS called Fork in the Road.
He had a couple of restaurants in Lansing that I always wanted to get to, but never made it. I enjoyed his show, and liked that he kept it fun while he was showing/teaching about recipes, and great things from the mitten. Sometimes he could be a little loud or goofy, but it wasn't boring.
My cousin went with me to the show last night. Neither of us have ever done anything like this before, so we didn't really know what to expect. I had some ideas in my head of what I thought it would be like, and I found his facebook page and saw some pictures that gave me some more ideas.
The doors opened at 4pm and the show/school started at 7pm. With my cousin's work schedule, we weren't able to get there until 6. We were a little worried that we might be missing stuff in the exhibit hall, but knew we wouldn't miss the show.
When we got there we turned in the tickets that we bought online and printed at home and we were given a wristband and a local grocery store bag full of cooking goodies. Then we wandered to the exhibitor area. I was expecting maybe 50+ exhibitors. I don't think there was more than 10 or 12. That was a little disappointing, but we were so glad we didn't come any earlier!! We were done with check-in and all the exhibitors by 6:20.
The show was good. Eric kept it moving right along, and he had a team of local culinary students helping him that looked to be in their late teens. He made 10 recipes in front of us, with a camera suspended above his work station so we could see what he was doing on a couple big screens. He kept us laughing and it was never boring.
There were LOTS of door prizes and at the end, they drew names for the dishes that he made while we watched. My cousin won one of the dishes-it was a Mannicotti dish and, she got to keep the brand new Pyrex 9x13 pan they were baked in!
We got to keep the recipe book/magazine that they gave us to follow along in as he made the recipes. Most of them seemed pretty easy and they seemed like something my family would enjoy, so I plan to start trying one a week. There were a couple that just didn't appeal to me, but that's just my taste. I'm sure other people probably liked them all.
We didn't eat before we went, because we assumed we'd be getting samples. Either from all the vendors that I assumed were going to be there, or from his cooking. So, when we left, we were about ready to gnaw off our arms because we were sooo hungry!! It ran a little long, and she had to wait for her dish to be wrapped up with plastic wrap, so by the time we got out and got some quick fast food and got home, it was almost 11.
It was fun to do something new. We learned some tips and techniques that will help us in the kitchen, We got some new recipes and some freebies and had a fun night out.
Wish there were more vendors.
Here's the food she won and the brand new Pyrex.