Nearly 2,000 attend cooking expo
A self-described "gadget guy" entertained nearly 700 food fans Saturday afternoon in Park Rapids as he whipped up pumpkin whoopee pies, pizza and a garlic-stuffed pork roast.
Taste of Home Cooking School culinary specialist Guy Klinzing even got in a few ribald jokes and a country western song during his nearly three-hour presentation.
But the professional chef offered common sense techniques as he showed his audience the "scoop and sweep" method of sifting flour, a crucial key to cooking, he maintained.
Nearly 2,000 people attended the cooking school and expo at Century School, most to rave reviews.
A line of gourmet cheeses from show sponsor J&B Foods greeted guests as they entered the school. They were so popular they almost caused a bottleneck at the school entryway.
But a steady stream of people flowed through the five-hour buffet line, gathering samples of delicacies, asking for cooking tips, collecting coupons and nibbling their way contentedly through the school hallways.
"It's to die for," said a giggling Pat Slifer as she and friend Marie Henstorf munched their way down the buffet line.
Treats from every food group and the gadgets to prepare them were on display.
The cooking school audience was rewarded with a bag full of goodies, free samples, coupons and raffle tickets to win prizes such as counter top ovens, cooking gear and gift baskets from local merchants.
They carried away floral arrangements raffled from a VIP room that served a gourmet lunch. They stuffed their bags and their tummies with gourmet fare.
And they shopped through the 42 vendor booths that offered wool headgear, designer purses, jewelry, makeup, food samples and the accoutrements to serve that fare on.
Pat Cadreau had to take a brief rest to get off her feet and display her goodies to her friends.
She used her cooking school tickets to fan her face. All that cooking and a steady stream of humanity heated the place up. But she couldn't stop smiling.
Park Rapids magician Nick Bretz wandered the halls entertaining kids with balloon animals and his trademark humor. Local musician Fran Gack also entertained the crowd with fiddle music throughout the expo.
Forty lucky VIP ticket holders had the opportunity to dine in style with a catered lunch by sponsor Jack Pine Café. The VIPs also met with Klinzing before the show for some extra cooking tips and had front row seats for the presentation.
Klinzing, a folksy, no-nonsense guy (no pun intended) who puts on several cooking schools each month, worked the crowd like a politician running for re-election, flirting with the ladies and joking that he was an expert at "cutting the cheese."
Audience members said afterwards he made cooking fun and easy.
"You don't have to have a bunch of gourmet stuff in your cupboard that you use once," one woman said.
Emcee Lynne Denman kept the show moving and got a ringside view of the action.
Klinzing mentioned optional gourmet items to add to the various recipes he prepared, but frequently told the hundreds they could include those ingredients only if they wished. And the audience nodded in approval.
Klinzing met half the population of Park Rapids during his two-day stint and mentioned many by name during his high tech show. He used cameras that documented what he was mixing on stage, then was shown on two giant screens.
He seemed like everyone's favorite uncle, cousin or brother when he left town.
The show was also sponsored by the Park Rapids Enterprise. Advertising manager Candy Parks said the newspaper would "definitely" put on another show.
Enterprise publisher Rory Palm was very happy with the turnout.
"I was concerned that the beautiful day might keep people home to enjoy the weather, but nearly 2,000 folks partook in the festivities," he said. "I'd like to thank our wonderful sponsors and vendors and all of the many volunteers that worked hard to make this event a success."
And while most attendees left laden with loot, Klinzing and staff were traveling relatively light.
They'd either cooked all their baggage or given it away.