FLORENCE — It's not every night you can learn cooking skills from a celebrated chef, taste delicious food and salute local veterans – all at the same event.
That's what Chef Guy Klinzing brought to the stage Thursday during the TimesDaily Fall Cooking Show held at the Florence-Lauderdale Coliseum.
Billing his show as "Unleashed Gone Country" Klinzing treated a crowd of about 350 attendees to recipes that included Yellowstone Bison Chili, Brie in a Blanket with Whiskey Caramel Sauce, Spinach Salad with U Pick 'Em Berry Vinaigrette, Cast Iron Spatchcock Chicken, and Worty McGuiness's Chocolate Cake.
"I loved the demonstration on the white icing cake," said Brenda Myrick, of Muscle Shoals.
Using song and jokes in his demonstrations, Klinzing elicited laughs, cheers and a good old fashioned country cheer every time cheese was introduced.
And then there were his stories.
"Sometimes some (of the strangest) things inspire me," he said as he began on his bison chili. "I had a confrontation with a bison at Yellowstone National Park."
The audience laughed at his account of the bison snorting at him, sending him scurrying for the safety of his car.
But Klinzing had the last word. "I got back at the bison by developing a bison recipe."
For those who can't find bison meat at the local grocery store, ground beef or venison will work in the chili recipe just as well.
An unexpected highlight of the evening came after a audience member kindly heckled Klinzing for making a recipe that was "more cake than cornbread."
After Klinzing invited the man to the stage to sample the Cherry Custard Cornbread, he learned the man was a veteran. That led to an invitation to have all veterans stand to applause from the audience.
It didn't end there. Before serving chili to each of the six veterans who he invited to the stage, Klinzing's smooth vocals honored them by singing "Proud to be an American," which brought the audience to a spontaneous and emotional ovation that lingered after the show.
When asked what was her favorite part of the night, Cheryl Bradford, of Muscle Shoals said, "The tribute to the veterans."
Still, the cooking portion of the show was equally popular as was Klinzing.
"I loved everything about him," said Beth Heaton, of Florence. "He's real fun."
In addition to stirring up mouth-watering recipes he developed, Klinzing offered handy cooking tips that included:
-- Use dried spices early in a recipe. If you're using fresh spices, they work best when added at the end of the recipe.
-- Roasting tomato paste in the pan before stirring it into your recipe will eliminate the metallic taste from the can.
-- Always rinse canned beans before adding them to a recipe to wash away the solution beans are canned in that has indigestible proteins. The solution is the major culprit of embarrassing digestive issues associated with eating beans.
-- Wrap cheese in wax paper to keep fresh and store in the vegetable crisper.
-- Always put an oven mitt or towel over the hot handles of skillets and pans to remind you it's, well, hot.
Klinzing presented the night's yummies to lucky audience members whose names were pulled for door prizes, that were awarded throughout the evening.
Another popular part of the event were vendors who offered samples of local cuisine prior to the show.