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Fundraiser whets appetite

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LOWVILLE — The Taste of Home Cooking School returns to Lewis County this fall with new ideas, new recipes and a new chef.

Mountain View Prevention Services is bringing the national show back to Lowville on Oct. 19 as a fundraiser for the programs and activities for youth the agency offers throughout the year.

The popular cooking magazine Taste of Home travels the country with recipes demonstrated by culinary specialists each spring and fall.

“This cooking school has been a tremendously successful fundraiser for us,” Mountain View Executive Director Arlene S. Hall said. “The community has been so supportive. We are working to make this show better each year.”

The all-day event will be held in the auditorium of Lowville Academy, with the doors opening at 11 a.m. Tickets holders will have a chance to visit vendors, reserve their seat in the auditorium, get something to eat and go through the gift bag each ticket holder receives. The bags contain recipes, including all that will be prepared in the show, products and items that both the national sponsors and local businesses have contributed, coupons for discounts from local vendors and information about the county.

Bags from the previous two years contained more than 60 items combining both information and products.

Throughout the 2-hour show, attendees will have an opportunity to win several door prizes, including all 10 dishes, from appetizers through desserts, prepared by the chef.

Eric Villegas will be the culinary specialist this year, demonstrating step-by-step instructions on creating the chosen dishes.

Chef Villegas was born and raised in Saginaw, Mich. He developed a love of cooking as a child and teenager cooking with his parents, making use of the local ingredients of upper Michigan.

Throughout his career, he has opened two restaurants, written two cookbooks and earned two regional Emmy awards for his popular television show, “Fork in the Road with Eric Villegas.”

For the last two years, the show has sold out locally, with a crowd of 700 guests.

Ticket sales will open Wednesday. All tickets can be ordered by visiting the office of Mountain View, 7714 Number Three Road, calling 376-2321 or visiting www.mountainviewprevention.org. Business hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

Two types of tickets are available: general admission is $15, and VIP tickets are $50 each and limited in number.

A VIP ticket offers front-row seating, a meet and greet with Chef Villegas and a behind-the-scenes tour of the food prep area.

VIP ticket holders also will have a chance to try some of the recipes featured in the day’s show and will be eligible for an additional door prize raffle. VIP tickets are not available online. All ticket holders receive a gift bag.

A “Cooks Who Care” segment will be available for all interested. Bringing a nonperishable food item for the local food pantry will place an attendee’s name in a drawing for an additional door prize.

Again this year, Mountain View is focusing on collecting food items for school backpacks that go home with many children on the weekends. All items collected will be divided among Lewis County schools with backpack programs.

Ideal food items to donate include peanut butter, crackers, single-serve food dishes and small packs of fruits and vegetables.

There still is room for vendors to be a part of the show. Call 376-2321 for more information. Vendors registered and paid by the close of business Friday can enter a drawing to win a free booth this year.

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