The Valdosta Daily Times
Michelle “Red” Roberts, wowed her audience again at this year’s Taste of Home Cooking School demonstration in Mathis Auditorium.
Adored and welcomed by many Georgians, Roberts showed up this year with her bubbly personality, witty sense of humor and overall, her passion to cook.
Numerous sponsors participated in the event, making it possible for Roberts to come out and share her culinary creativeness with citizens from all over Georgia and parts of North Florida. Some of these sponsors include The Valdosta Daily Times, Publix and Home Depot.
Before the show began, gift bags with various goodies were handed out, Taste of Home Cookbooks were set on display and various local businesses were given the opportunity to share their delicious samples with the event participants.
“It’s pretty great so far,” said attendee Gail Lindsey of Perry, Ga. “I appreciated the gift package, the people are really friendly, very helpful.”
Gail’s niece Annabella Jackson, 15, enjoyed the event as well, especially the time spent with her aunt.
“I enjoyed walking around the whole thing,” Jackson said.
Taste of Home attracts many local businesses from all over the area, not only to get their name out there but to establish connections as well.
“It’s our fifth year at this event,” said Stacy Hepburn, Advanced Sales Director of The Pampered Chef. “The opportunity to network is great, getting to see the customers. I’ve been in business for 13-years, been here for seven, and this is a jumping off place to build a strong business.”
Stella Robider, owner of Robi’s All-purpose Seasoning, came out with her husband to show their customers a little love and appreciation.
“It’s our third year at the Taste of Home that we’ve done,” Robider said. “It’s great getting our seasonings name out. We get a lot of re-orders online from the event, good word of mouth.”
First timers Jeff Lind and Don Stanley of the Gourmet Guys were put to work as a line piled up in front of their booth but the smiling faces of their customers is enough to bring the guys back for round two.
“They called to ask us if we could come and we’re here. It seems to be very successful,” Lind said. “We are enjoying it a lot and are pleasantly surprised. Everyone is very nice and very hungry. Absolutely plan on coming back next year.”
As everyone made their way into the auditorium with full bellies, seats were taken as they waited for Red’s arrival.
“I get the Taste of Home magazines. We lived in Greendale, Wis., where Taste of Home is based,” said fifth-year attendee and Valdosta resident, Bea Lawler. “Doesn’t matter how old you are, it’s always nice to learn something new.”
As Roberts made her grand entrance, she was accompanied by the vibrant personality and voice of Assistant Managing Editor for The Valdosta Daily Times, Dean Poling.
“Exciting intro,” Roberts said. “Felt like a boxing ring.”
Roberts has been conducting Taste of Home Cooking School demonstrations throughout the country for almost 11-years. She mainly focuses on the southeast regions of the United Sates, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi.
Born in the southwestern region of Mississippi, Roberts grew up with a unique and feisty flare for cooking. She graduated from Mississippi University for Women with a Bachelor of Science degree in Culinary Arts and has been a master of her craft ever since.
Conducting 40 shows a year, Michelle “Big Red” Roberts specializes in southern cuisine, which is one of the many perks to her already spicy personality.
Roberts chose to cook from the Taste of Home Cooking School Cookbook, Spring 2013 edition, at the demonstration. She started the night off by making Sassy Spring Gifts, perfect for any type of occasion. These gifts included raspberry barbecue sauce, honey almond butter and the All-American rub, perfect for sauces, meats or salads.
“Taste of Home has a lot of special interest recipes,” Roberts said. “Someone will go home with all three of the Sassy Spring Gifts.”
The next dish Roberts made was a sensational chicken paillard with cherry sauce and parsley rice. As the chicken cooked and the cherries simmered, the delightful fumes hit the senses of every audience member, making the urge to taste it hard to resist.
“The leftover brown bits of the cooked chicken are the foundation for your sauce,” Roberts said. “Most sauces are finished with a pat of butter. I like to use a little Dijon mustard.”
Her next mouth watering creation involved a flavor combination of spicy and zesty, Bud Light Lime creamy jalapeno soup.
“It’s not just for summer and it’s not just for cooking [Bud Light Lime],” Roberts said. “It’s a great flavor if you want a hint of lime; it’s very refreshing.”
This soup is a perfect family dish for any type of occasion. Even though alcohol is incorporated, Roberts stressed this dish to be a good family oriented meal.
“The alcohol will evaporate at 170 degrees and you’re going to get that great flavor left behind,” Roberts said. “The carbonation of the beer will add a creamy mouth feel, which is really nice.”
One of the last dishes she introduced was a deliciously tempting and oh so heavenly mango lime pie, introduced to Taste of Home by Gallo Family Vineyards. This sinfully sweet dessert is made with Gallo Family Moscato and can be found in the Taste of Home Cooking School Cookbook.
As Roberts concluded her demonstration of tasty masterpieces, satisfaction overwhelmed the crowd, from the various door prizes given away to the knowledge received from a food genius. Big Red is a surely a culinary blessing to Valdosta.
Roberts encourages everyone with a creative culinary personality to share their recipes on the Taste of Home website, for a chance to have it featured in one of their distinguished magazines.
For more information about Michelle Roberts or Taste of Home, please visit www.tasteofhome.com or www.facebook.com/MichelleRedRobertsTOHCS.