A year has gone by now since my initiation into the Taste of Home Cooking School dynasty and I can make Italian sausage stuffed mushrooms, upside down apple pie, busy day pork chops and a handful of other recipes. Now it was time to take it to the next level...


photo: Keith James / TSM

I got the privilege of being one of the sou chefs onstage for the second year in a row and was soaking up absolutely everything I could about the experience. Like last year we all showed up early in the morning to unpack the chef's gear and groceries and get cracking on the 10 recipes she would be presenting. I got to bake my first cake, make eggs benedict for the first time and learn better and faster chopping technique from fellow sou chef, Dale who is the culinary director at the Utica Rescue Mission.


photo: Phil Nye / TSM

Colleen and her daughter Melissa rounded out the backstage help and were an absolute joy to work with. Next thing we knew 5 hours had past and most of our prep cooking for the show was done, so we were released to go home. I decided it didn't make much sense for me to head back to Utica only to return shortly thereafter so I stuck around in the poker room. Boy. I'm glad I did as I somehow turned a single red stack into five and ultimately left with four... Yeehaw!


photo: Keith James /TSM

Come showtime, the special VIP guests had already cleaned out the free cookbooks, food and wine, met the chef and done their stage tour and it was time to make it happen in front of 1,200 pairs of eyes. The crowd was electric and extremely responsive and I have to say I enjoyed it even more than last year, running free food into the audience and ultimately being completely goofy!


Photo: Keith James /TSM

After they (you) all left, we sou chefs stuck around to strike the set and I ended up rolling in the door at home at 11p! Turns out chef Cheryl lives near my hometown in Ohio and teaches clogging! Who knew? It was an 11 hour day including the morning show and now I'm back at the keyboard writing between spinning classic hits for you on this Friday morning. If you missed the 11th annual TOH Cooking School or if you were there and it flew by, don't miss number 12... I'll see you there!


Behind The Scenes At The Taste Of Home Cooking School