Sheri Provost won a new range, the grand prize at the Taste of Home. On the left is Culinary Specialist Michael Barna, and on the right is the event’s emcee, Shaun Kittle.
PLATTSBURGH — More than 900 people flocked to the Crete Center for a little Taste of Home Nov. 3.
The event, which was sponsored by Denton Publications, consisted of 49 vendors offering samples of their products and selling their wares.
There was something for everyone, from a chocolate fountain made for dipping to home furnishings crafted from items previously tossed aside.
But amid all the commotion, the delectable samples, the cookbooks and jewelry and crafts, there was a steady murmer of anticipation for the main attraction—Culinary Specialist Michael Barna, a man who happens to be a bit of a celebrity.
He is the same Michael Barna whose hands doubled for Mel Gibson’s in the movie Signs and has helped open three gourmet casino restaurants in Atlantic City.
Barna also holds a degree from the Culinary Institute of America and has worked for four and five star restaurants.
The man loves to entertain, and he really loves to cook.
So now he combines the two by traveling the northeast for Taste of Home, a cooking magazine comprised of recipes sent in from its readers.
“We get 40,000 recipes sent to us annually,” Barna said. “We bring it down to 1,000 recipes out of that, and we take all of them and test them three times in our three test kitchens at Taste of Home.”
Even though the magazine’s chefs don’t change recipes, they do tweak them from time to time.
“The number one reason I’m doing this show is for everyone in that audience to come in and have a great time,” Barna said.
And if energy is any indication, attendees were ecstatic to be there.
Barna took the stage to an energized crowd chanting “Michael! Michael!” and cooked with enthusiasm throughout, often pausing to engage audience members and crack jokes.
The show’s eight national sponsors each submitted a recipe, and two were picked from reader submissions.
“The performance aspect is huge,” Barna said. “I’m not teaching them how to dice a piece of celery, that’s not what I’m here for. I’m not teaching them how to cook, I’m teaching them these ten recipes and how to do them with tons of tips and tricks.”
Barna prepared the ten recipes for the crowd, including veggie lasagna, sausage stuffed mushrooms and upside-down apple pie.
In between recipes, Barna also raffled off more than 70 items.
The grand prize, a range from Wilson Appliances, went to Sherri Provost.
Other prizes included a Chazy Orchard gift basket, cookbooks, a coffee maker and jewelry.