Trout on TOH tasting menu

Succulent trout so excellently prepared that it will make your mouth water is one of several delectable items on the tasting menu for VIP guests at this year’s Taste of Home Cooking School.

Set for Thursday at the new armory in Randolph County, the exclusive VIP tasting will begin at 5 p.m. All attendees will have access, though, to the vendor fair, which opens at 2, and the live cooking show, which kicks off at 6:30.

The tasting reception is being sponsored by Elk Springs Resort and its fine dining restaurant Ellie May’s.

Executive Chef Jerry Strawderman has a diverse array of items on the sampling menu. In addition to the trout, which is caught fresh daily at the resort’s hatchery, VIP guests also will be treated to Chef Jerry’s famous stuffed peppers, the recipe for which is top secret. Other accoutrements to be featured are a sampling of cheeses, wings, dessert bites and iced tea.

“The tasting promises to be fun for our VIP guests,” Publisher Heather Goodwin Henline said of the event, noting the cooking school is being co-sponsored by The Inter-Mountain and Elkins Distributing in conjunction with Budweiser. “We’re really excited to feature all Elk Springs has to offer and to showcase a chef of Jerry’s caliber. I’ve tasted the trout, and it’s the best I’ve eaten anywhere.”

A graduate of the International Culinary Institute, Strawderman is well known from his tenures as head chef at JT’s Fine Dining Italian Restaurant and Brandy’s Restaurant at Snowshoe Mountain Resort.

“The Elk River dining has never been better,” according to the resort’s website,

All show attendees, including general-admission ticket holders, will have the opportunity to win an exclusive gift basket from the resort, featuring signature wines and more. This will be one of several dozen prizes to be given away during the live show, and prize values total in the thousands.

Strawderman will get the festivities going when he draws the first prize of the night at about 6:15 p.m. Additional prizes will be distributed throughout the show by Taste of Home Culinary Specialist Cheryl Cohen and event emcee Goodwin Henline.

“We’ve got some great gifts on tap again this year, including the grand prize, a $1,000 shopping trip to Ralph’s Furniture,” Goodwin Henline said. “Our general-admission tickets only are $10, and the odds of winning are pretty good when you consider our audience capacity is limited to 700. The show offers quite a value for the price.”

Included in the entrance fee is admission to the vendor fair, which features nearly 30 booths; admission to the cooking show; a goodie bag that features Taste of Home magazines, money-saving coupons and much more; and parking.

VIP ticket holders will be able to park at the armory. All others will be directed to the Junior Volunteer Fire Department, where complimentary shuttles will run between the parking area there and the armory venue. These shuttles will begin at 2 p.m. and run until all guests have been returned to their vehicles after the show.

“Our new location is great this year because the vendor fair and cooking school are in the same building,” Goodwin Henline said. “In addition, everything is on one level, and there are no stairs to navigate. The building is 100 percent handicap accessible and offers a great layout for vendors and participants.”

Limited tickets remain and may be purchased at The Inter-Mountain’s Elkins location at 520 Railroad Ave., or by calling 304-636-2121. Tickets purchased before Thursday’s event are buy-one, get-one-free and they will be full price at the door if any remain.

Wednesday’s Inter-Mountain will feature preview coverage of the vendor fair. The list of participating businesses will be announced, including food vendors. Full-service meals will be available, and guests are encouraged to come early and dine before the show gets underway. Tables will be set up for attendees to sit down and enjoy their purchases.

Wednesday’s edition also will feature a run-down of available food options.