Chicken paillarde with cherry sauce and parsley rice, Italian sausage pot stickers and mango lime pie were among the scrumptious and mouthwatering fare that delighted a packed house at the Taste of Home Cooking School Thursday night at the Randolph County Armed Forces Reserve Center.
The culinary extravaganza, sponsored by The Inter-Mountain and Elkins Distributing, featured local vendors and a plethora of prizes in addition to the much-anticipated live cooking show.
Taste of Home Culinary Specialist Cheryl Cohen shared her passion for delicious, quality cuisine at the event, which drew people from all over the region.
The Inter-Mountain photos Matthew Burdette
Taste of Home Culinary Specialist Cheryl Cohen displays the pineapple upside-down cupcakes she made during the culinary show Thursday night at the Randolph County Armed Forces Reserve Center. The event was sponsored by The Inter-Mountain and Elkins Distributing.
With a dash of humor and a sprinkle of tips, Cohen's show was a hit with the crowd, who relished the many delectable delights prepared by the veteran chef.
"She was amazing," said Lea McBride of Elkins, who attended with her daughter-in-law, Amanda McBride, for what they called a fun girls' night out. "She (Cohen) really makes it worth coming to, with her humor and her personality."
Amanda McBride ended up winning a primitive candles gift basket and pineapple upside-down cupcakes, prepared on stage by Cohen, as door prizes. She said the Cooking School event offered a chance to get out and have a good time.
"It's something different; you don't get a lot of that around here," she said.
Many other attendees won a large selection of door prizes, with everything from specialty baskets designed for foodies and chocolate-lovers, to gift certificates from local businesses and gorgeous flower baskets donated by Rennix Flowers in Valley Bend.
One of the featured prizes was a high-end Husqvarna sewing machine donated by Elkins Sewing Center, while the night's grand prize was a $1,000 shopping spree to Ralph's Furniture & Carpet in Buckhannon. The shopping spree went to Gyvonne Harper of Elkins, who said she had a lovely time and was thrilled at the prospect of checking out new furniture.
Harper hadn't even planned to attend the Taste of Home show until a half hour before festivities kicked off, when her friend, Lara Lawrence of Philippi, called and offered her an extra ticket.
"She sat there all night and said she wouldn't win anything," Lawrence said with a big smile after Harper's name was randomly plucked from a bin by Ralph's owner Joe Cutright. Lawrence managed to walk away with a Taste of Home cookbook.
Another cookbook winner Thursday night was Lorraine Chilgren of Elkins, who attended the event with her friend, Patty Coffman, also of Elkins.
Chilgren said she went to the show last year, and she wanted to come out again.
"We just love food, and we like all these," she said, gesturing toward an issue of Taste of Home magazine. "We're into recipes and cookbooks, and we love passing them around."
Even those who didn't win a prize did not leave empty-handed, as all attendees received a complimentary tote bag filled with sample products, coupons and discount offers from local and national vendors. All showgoers also received copies of Taste of Home and Simply Delicious magazines.
The Inter-Mountain has brought this popular event to central West Virginia since 2011.
During the show, Heather Goodwin Henline, publisher and general manager of The Inter-Mountain, served as the event's emcee and announced all the prizes.
Prior to the cooking show, VIP guests were able to enjoy a tasting event sponsored by Elk Springs Resort and its executive chef, Jerry Strawderman, while all guests were able to imbibe in a special tasting courtesy of Elkins Distributing, which included Budweiser products. Anheuser Busch/Bud Lite Lime is one of the national Taste of Home sponsors, as is the Gallo Family Vineyards, Johnsonville, Mrs. Dash, the Mushroom Council, Ortega and Shop Taste of Home.
The Rail Yard Restaurant and Kissel Stop offered meals prior to the show as well, so attendees could make it a full evening of fun, fare and friendship.
Shopping also was part of the mix, as a range of local businesses took part in a vendor fair from 2 to 6:15 p.m.
One of the vendors taking part was A Domestic Friend, represented by Sharon Ours. She said she gave out lots of samples of pet food, and she was excited to be able to donate two bags of dog food as prizes during the evening.
Another vendor, Third Street Trading Co., offered samples of a range of sweets, including Jelly Belly jelly beans. Owner Hope Anderson said she and her staff had a great time. Anderson rented an official Jelly Belly costume, so guests were able to mingle with Mr. Jelly Belly - who got some help from Anderson's daughter, 5-year-old Lilyana.
"She did help ... and it was good. The Jelly Belly man was a hit," Anderson said.
The event also encouraged guests to make donations to the Catholic Charities food pantry, which proved to be successful again this year, thanks to guests' enormous generosity.
In addition to businesses and local charities participating in the show, representatives from United Way agencies and the Junior Volunteer Fire Department helped out by handing out prizes.
Overall, Cohen said she could tell the crowd had a blast during the popular show.
"I think it went great," she said. "They enjoyed it, and I had a really great time here."