AUGUSTA — The Taste of Home Cooking School, which has come to the Augusta-Waterville area annually for about 30 years, will be held Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center.

Amy Zarichnak, culinary specialist with the school that is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will demonstrate how to make 10 seasonal recipes that take 30 minutes or less.

“I’m really excited for this Augusta show,” Zarichnak said. “Everybody who has done this has said how well organized and enjoyable it is.”

About 20 vendors will have booths at the cooking school, showing off home appliances, wood finishing products and other goods.

Doors open at 4:30 p.m. for the vendor exposition, while early entrance for VIP ticket holders is at 3:30 p.m. The cooking show runs from 7 to 9 p.m.

This season’s event is sponsored by the Kennebec Journal, the Morning Sentinel and MaineGeneral Health.

Cindy Stevens, regional advertising manager for the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel, is emcee and producer of the Taste of Home show in Augusta. She has been affiliated with the show in Augusta and Waterville since its beginning locally about 30 years ago.

“This is a lot of fun,” Stevens said. “It’s the kind of show that I’m glad that we do. I’m definitely not a chef, but I learn something new every time I go.”

Bridget Campbell, business development manager for the newspapers, is a local host for the cooking event along with Stevens.

“The show is very popular,” Campbell said. “It’s a blast. It always smells really good in there. We give away 100 door prizes. It is a team effort.”

Campbell said Zarichnak’s cooking methods will be broadcast on big screens placed around the inside of the civic center.

Campbell said the first Taste of Home cooking schools in the capital area were held at the Augusta State Armory. Then the event moved to the Waterville Opera House for a number of years before it settled recently at the Augusta Civic Center.

She said up to 1,000 tickets often have been sold for the annual event, while about 750 people attended last year’s school.

Taste of Home Cooking Magazine and Taste of Home Cooking School are owned by Reader’s Digest. The school was founded in 1948 by a home economist who called her company “The Homemaker Schools.” She would load up her station wagon and drive across the Midwest, stopping at small-town appliance dealerships and conducting cooking classes for dozens of people.

Taste of Home Magazine acquired the Cooking School in the 1990s, and now there is a whole team of home cooks who host more than 200 events with about 140,000 participants around the country each year.

The school is designed to help everyone learn something from experienced home cooks to beginners. The school teaches attendees weeknight meal ideas, kitchen tips and tricks and shortcuts using items easily found at the local grocery store.

“We give away the food,” Zarichnak said. “We want it to be a surprise. We always do a couple of desserts, a couple of side dishes and a couple of entrees. We try to offer things that are good for company and entertaining but are also quick to prepare for weekday cooking for your family.”

She said people are accustomed to what they do with fall vegetables and fruits such as apples, pumpkins and butternut squash.

“We want to give people fresh options,” she said. “We have a sausage dish that is extraordinary. We’ve got something with chocolate in it, and chocolate is always in season.”

Zarichnak said all of the cooking school’s recipes are submitted by readers of the cooking magazine.

She said she had a background in marketing and sales when she decided to go to culinary school at the age of 41. She graduated from the Culinary Institute of America last year.

“I just really love to cook, and I love to eat,” the Pennsylvania native said.

She advised attendees at the Taste of Home Cooking School to “bring their appetite. We want them to have a mouth-watering good time.”

Participants will receive a gift bag with goodies from local sponsors, and they may walk away with an additional surprise gift or two.

VIP tickets cost $45 each and include prime front-section seating, receipt of a cookbook and a goodie bag and a private reception with Zarichnak. Premium tickets sell for $25 and also feature floor or side stadium seating and a goodie bag. General tickets go for $15 and include standard seating and a goodie bag.

Tickets may be purchased in person at the Augusta Civic Center Box Office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tickets may be purchased by phone at the civic center box office at 626-2400 or at Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000.

Tickets may be purchased online at Ticketmaster at http://goo.gl/i7vzEy.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.