Friday, November 6, 2009

Behind the Scenes with Taste of Home

I'll bet many of you are familiar with Taste of Home's magazines and cooking products, so I thought you might enjoy a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it's like to spend a day serving as an assistant at the Taste of Home Cooking School, since that's what I did yesterday. The annual event is presented locally by Newnan Utilities and my employer, The Times-Herald and Newnan-Coweta Magazine. Here I am at far left with the other assistants for yesterday's show: Deberah Williams, Susan West, Lori Binion, Leah Griffin (youth assistant) and Mary Ann Durrough. It was a great group of ladies to work with!

Our day began bright and early at 8:30 a.m. at the Coweta County School System's Centre for the Performing and Visual Arts. The local school system built this magnificent arts center a few years ago, and it has been a terrific addition to our community. I was there just Monday night to see Montana Repertory Theatre's fantastic production of Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird."

A lovely autumn theme was used to decorate the stage, with lots of harvest fruits, hay bales, pumpkins, a large "window" constructed by the arts center's staff, and even a swing with a quilt spread across the back.

After meeting my fellow stage assistants, we got our marching orders from Culinary Specialist Michelle "Red" Roberts, who has been the presenter for the local cooking school for many years. Here, she shows Susan how to prep the Flank Steak Santa Fe, which was cooked jelly roll style and tied with butcher's twine.

My friend and colleague Deberah found time to chop vegetables for her dish and also ...

... to snap photos for her blog Finesse, which is here.

We also got to meet Kay Rainwater, a lovely woman from neighboring Fayetteville, who is a field editor with Taste of Home magazine. She's served as a field editor for about eight years, she said, and began by submitting recipes. Later on, she was asked to review new cookbooks and do things like go to local stores and report on the company's wares, their availability, how they were displayed, etc. I had always wondered what a "field editor" did, and she definitely made it sound quite interesting. During the show, she got to help demonstrate the Caramel Apple Twist, a breakfast bread stuffed with caramel bits, tart apples, almonds, brown sugar and cinnamon. This one somehow disappeared from backstage before I got to sample it but certainly smelled heavenly while it was baking!

I was surprised yesterday morning to find that I would bake an actual one-layer chocolate cake which would be decorated onstage at the cooking school at night and later given away as one of the door prizes. (It's a shame I couldn't win, because it was presented on a ruffled amber glass cake pedestal, which was given away along with it. Beautiful!)

Michelle has the organization for this thing down to a science, so backstage there was an orderly flow to the work. Whatever we needed was right there on hand, clearly labeled, and with loads of cooking and baking equipment for us to use. Have you ever seen so many measuring cups?

Here's Lori prepping some of the ingredients for one of the dishes she prepared.

And here's Susan prepping one of her dishes.

It's almost showtime, and you can see the seats are starting to fill up. The center seats 1,000, and this event sells out every single year. I sure hope I get asked to help again next year!


  1. I've been out of town all week, so I missed it AGAIN this year. It looks like it would have been so fun! Would love to assist if you get asked back. HINT, HINT!!!!!

  2. Wow, looks like everyone there had a great time. I would have loved to taste that chocolate cake. Actually, a sample taste of the batter would suit me fine also.

  3. How fun! I can only imagine you had the time of your life.

  4. What a great day that must have been. I enjoyed seeing all your photos. Several years ago I attended a Southern Living Cooking Show, but I've never been to the Taste of Home show.

    Did you get the recipes for all the great foods that were prepared?
    Also, thanks for the link to Deberah's blog.

  5. That is great - thanks for sharing! I subscribe to ToH, and also always wondered about what the field editors did too.

  6. I've always wanted to attend a TOH cooking school. A friend of mine in Mississippi goes every year. Thanks for sharing the behind scene with us.

  7. Oh how fun! I miss TofH coming to my neighborhood so much. I think I was the only one attending so they only came a few years in a row and then stopped. This is such a treat to see things from behind the scenes - lurve the photos and you look adorable in your apron. Great memories!

  8. Hm. Field editor. That's an interesting job. Sounds like a lot of fun to review books and stores and such. At least for me, in the tea world. Fun.

  9. How cool! I've always wanted to attend a show, but never lived clost to one. Fun!

  10. Hi Angela~ Wow, that looks like a whole bunch of fun! What a wonderful way to spend the day.

  11. How fun! Taste of Home will be in my town this coming Tuesday. I'll be in the audience. Looking forward to it.

  12. I love "Taste of Home". I used to participate when I had my tearoom. They do a beautiful job!

  13. What fun! I will have to tell Chelle about this for next year! Excellent blogging!!


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