Gwinnett gets taste of home

DULUTH - The savory aroma of sizzling flank steak wafted from the pan and out into the first few rows of the audience.

On stage, culinary specialist Michelle Roberts was preparing the dish - flank steak Santa Fe - as a demonstration for the estimated 900 to 1,000 people who attended Thursday's Taste of Home Fall Cooking School at the Gwinnett Center.

The sixth annual event opened Thursday afternoon with vendors offering products and services ranging from aprons and holiday dishes to shop-from-home grocery service and food and wine before the Roberts' demonstration began.

The cooking school staff member prepared 10 dishes in two hours - from a caramel apple twist and a smoked salmon and chives cheesecake, and a soup, salad and sandwich combination - from recipes taken from the Taste of Home Cooking School collection, interspersing tips and showing off kitchen aids throughout each demonstration. Roberts was assisted by volunteers from Killian Hill Christian School who assembled ingredients and transferred food from the demonstration table to ovens and stove tops. Lucky drawing winners were able to take home the dishes Roberts had prepared at the end of the night.

Lawrenceville resident Donna Goins, who was attending the event for the first time, said the cheesy vegetable chowder, fall harvest salad and mini-Kentucky hot brown sandwiches were recipes she would definitely prepare herself.

"I have kids, so they're always asking me about cooking," she said, "so I can make some nice, easy recipes for them."