More than thirty women lined up outside Highlands Today's office in Sebring Monday morning, Jan. 28, to buy advance tickets for the 2013 Taste of Home Cooking School.
If thirty doesn't sound like a particularly large crowd, consider this: almost every woman in line was waiting to buy not one, but several, tickets, like Duffy, who bought 20 tickets for herself and her neighbors in Estates of Sebring Park near Spring Lake.
By 5 p.m., more than 200 tickets had been sold. Sebring's own Don Elwell, who will serve as emcee at the event, greeted the ladies waiting in line and insisted, "I'm just here for the hamburgers," while Chef Mac with The Palms of Sebring provided coffee and scones.
The cooking school event is Thursday, March 28, at South Florida State College's Theatre for the Performing Arts. The show starts at 7 p.m. Presented by "Taste of Home" magazine, the popular event is celebrating its tenth anniversary in Sebring. Led by culinary specialist Michelle Roberts, attendees will learn seasonal recipes perfect for every holiday, occasion and skill level.
Each year the crowds grow bigger, so we asked some of the women why they come to the cooking school.
Joan Henline, Charlotte Darling and Doreen Cone said, "We love Michelle. She makes it all look so enjoyable."
Sharon England said, "I come to hear Don. He's so funny." Between them, the four Tanglewood residents bought nineteen tickets for themselves and friends.
"We love to cook and entertain, but we come because this is such a fun girl's night out," said Beverly Cowles of Avon Park. "
Judy Bateman said, "I come every year hoping to win one of the dishes Michelle fixes."
Jane Dole lives in Chatham, N.Y., and winters in Lake Placid. She said, "I've subscribed to the magazine for years and started going to the school up north. Now it's the highlight of my winter here. I love to cook and my husband loves to eat. He waits anxiously for me to come home with the new recipes every year."
Andrene Rudman, of Sebring, said, "I love it because Michelle uses Rada utensils, the kind I sell in my stall at Fireman's Field Flea Market."
"I used to go in Wisconsin," said Linda Cohn, who now lives in Avon Park, "but I like this one better."
At the event, food will be available for purchase from 5-7 p.m., prepared by Chef Mac, in Building B across from the auditorium.
Advance sale tickets are $15 through Feb. 14, and then go to $19 through March 28. Tickets can be purchased at the Highlands Today office, 315 U.S. 27 N., or online at www.highlandstoday.com/tasteofhome.
VIP tickets, priced at $37 each, are available by calling 863-386-5836 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., now through March 8. The tickets include the "Taste of Home Best Loved Recipes" cookbook that retails for $24.99, VIP seating at the show, a reusable grocery bag with coupons, seasonings, and more, plus a backstage tour with Michelle culminating at The Palms of Sebring/Chef Mac food vendor station.
All VIP purchasers will also be entered in a drawing for a gift basket that is valued at more than $200 in gift certificates to area restaurants.
The "Taste of Home Best Loved Recipes" cookbook, regularly priced at $24.99, can be purchased separately at Highlands Today for $19.99. It can also be purchased online at www.highlandstoday.com/tasteofhome. This hardback edition includes more than 1,400 recipes.