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Wilburn: Cooking demonstrations come to Saturday market

POSTED: May 27, 2009 1:00 a.m.

I am addicted to cooking programs on TV, and I especially love Southern cooking programs.

Unfortunately, I will probably never see one in person, but guess what - we have some wonderful live cooking demonstrations lined up on Steve Thomas will be presenting cooking demonstrations each Saturday at the market.

Thomas worked as a private chef in Manhattan and Martha's Vineyard after graduation in 1984 from the Culinary Institute. He served as the catering director for Frank Clout's Catering in Atlanta in the late 1980s.

Thomas said his mom encouraged him to begin cooking when he was only 10.

I was really impressed when I learned that Thomas was a chef instructor at the School of Culinary Arts in Atlanta until 1998.

He gave up the food industry as a full-time profession after buying his first computer in 1989.

On Saturday and into June, the demos will take place at 9 a.m. Once the farmers have more produce available in mid-June through October, the time will be adapted to reach the largest number of shoppers, probably closer to 10 or 10:30 a.m.

The cooking demonstrations are a way to show people that cooking is easy - much easier than they think. Cooking fresh fruits and vegetables at home is a must for your family's health. You will save time and money, and it can be fun and relaxing way to spend time with friends and family.

Thomas has also developed the Hall County Farmers Market's Web site. This features information on the market, directions, recipes from the cooking demos and a list of what is available month by month.

Thomas also plans on interviewing vendors and posting their profiles on the site so shoppers will have a better understanding of who grows their food.

Saturday, Steve will demonstrate how to cook different greens such as spinach, beet leaves, pak choi, kale, and chard; a fruit crumble using the honey and granola available at the market; and how to make sweet pastry dough and savory pastry dough, featuring farm fresh eggs. He also will discuss cooking with herbs.

By June 6, he said he hopes to demonstrate roasting beets using coals from the grill and will demonstrate how to make a fresh beet salad, too.

If the market has peas and beans, he will show how to make a topping for chicken, fish or toast. He also will show a couple of ways to make pesto with different herbs and nuts. If there is any early fruit, Steve will tempt your taste buds with a fresh fruit pie using the sweet pastry dough from the Saturday demo.

Starting in mid-June, some of the cooking demos will be handled by local chefs and restaurant owners. So plan on joining us to sample some delicious recipes from Scott Dixon of Scott's On The Square, Tim Roberts of 2 Dog Restaurant, and Tim Bunch of Longstreet Café. These three restaurant owners have been using local farmers for years, so Thomase said they were easy to recruit.

Thanks Thomas for all that you are doing to promote our local market and farmers!

Debbie Wilburn is county extension agent in family and consumer science with the Hall County Extension. Contact: 770-535-8290.



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