Cooking in D.C. Y’all

Sun., Nov. 4, 2007

I heard on the local news that the Food Network’s popular host, Ms. Paula Deen, would be making a personal appearance at the Washington Convention Center as part of the 2007 Metropolitan Cooking & Entertainment Show. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see her in action. I bought a ticket to her noon food preparation demo.

Since her segment was one of many events planned for the cooking expo, I expected to be sitting in a modest reserved section on the convention floor that would hold about 50 – 100 people. I was wrong. One of her sponsors, Land O’Lakes, had set up a huge makeshift theatre that accommodated a crowd of approximately 500 fans!

Paula’s husband Michael Groover, a character himself, introduced her and was her sidekick on stage. Paula was even more lively and entertaining in person than she is on TV. Throughout the show she’d get sidetracked by things audience members were shouting. She shared some personal stories and asked the sign language interpreter to show her how to sign the words spit and poop. After she would taste a completed dish, she would spit food out while trying to talk and apologized for doing so.

The dean of the culinary school at Stratford University cooked all the meals while Paula explained which ingredients to use and how to prepare the tasty dishes. The first Paula Deen recipe he made was gumbo, followed by southern cornbread and then pumpkin gooey butter cake with fresh whipped cream. I can’t tell you how they tasted (I wish I could), but I can tell you they looked deeeeelicious!

The show lasted a little more than an hour. When it ended I had hoped to get her to sign her latest book “It Ain’t All About the Cookin,” but unfortunately that didn’t happen. Apparently, very early that morning her sponsors had given out a limited number of bracelets to people, granting them access to get their books signed. Denied autograph aside, it was still a fun afternoon.

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