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Cooking school offers tasty fun

Culinary specialist Michelle Roberts presents a completed recipe of Tuscan bread salad she prepared on stage during the Taste of Home Cooking School at Darton College Thursday night.

Culinary specialist Michelle Roberts presents a completed recipe of Tuscan bread salad she prepared on stage during the Taste of Home Cooking School at Darton College Thursday night.

ALBANY -- It was standing room only at the 6th annual Taste of Home cooking show on Thursday night -- at least for a little while until some extras chairs were rounded up.

Over the course of the show, which was sponsored by The Albany Herald, culinary specialist Michelle Roberts completed around a dozen recipes from a specific issue of the cooking school magazine supplied to each attendee.

"I want to welcome you all to the Michelle show," Roberts said, turning to emcee Michelle Bates as she spoke. "We have Michelle Page from The Albany Herald, too, and another Michelle on our stage crew. It's our goal to take over the world."

Kaye Heard is a dedicated follower of Roberts and Taste of Home. This event was her sixth in a row.

"I love it," Heard said. "Michelle is really entertaining, and I've learned a lot from the schools. Last year I learned how to make a shrimp dish and I make it all the time now. I serve it with pasta."

Heard said she also enjoys shopping the food-related vendors which are a part of each event. Like so many of the ladies at the culinary show, Heard came without her husband.

"He never knows when he'll get off," Heard said.

At least one husband had no choice but to be there, he said.

"I was coerced into coming tonight," Jim Lowery grinned. "I was told I could come along peacefully or there would be no more Georgia football television for me."

"He really is a good cook," said Lowery's wife, Gwen, "and he's had to do the cooking since I had surgery on my hand. He might as well learn something new."

Each time there was a break between recipes, Roberts gave away a door prize, including cookbooks, skillets and other kitchen equipment. Beyond having their names pulled from the spinner, the rule to receive a prize was simple.

"When you hear your name called out, you gotta jump up and throw your arms up in the air and yell, 'I love food' real loud," Roberts said.

Roberts graduated from Mississippi University for Women in Columbus with a bachelor's degree in culinary arts. According to school sources, she conducts about 40 cooking shows each year, mostly in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee and Mississippi.

Each attendee left the event with a Taste of Home Cooking School cookbook, coupons and product samples. Tickets were $10 each, plus a canned food item that will be donated to the FoodBank of Southwest Georgia.