Art of Cooking returns as fundraiser for arts' council

January 26, 2013|By Chris Copley |
  • Todd Reynolds is executive chef at Fountain Head Country Club. He will prepare dishes created by Hagerstown couples for the fourth annual Art of Cooking on Saturday, Feb. 2.
By Chris Copley

Beth Johnston has attended all the previous Art of Cooking fundraisers at Fountain Head Country Club. She has enjoyed watching fellow club members prepare a dish on camera and savored the delicious dishes served by the country club's executive chef, Todd Reynolds.

Johnston is attending Art of Cooking again this year, but she'll be a little more nervous.

She's going to be in front of the video camera.

"It will be good they (the audience) are not in the room," Johnston said with a laugh. "It's going to take a lot to keep me from getting freaked out."

Johnston and her husband, Mike Johnston, are one of four couples preparing dishes on camera for the fourth annual Art of Cooking. The fundraiser, on Saturday, Feb. 2, benefits Washington County Arts Council.

The dinner features a full menu — salad, appetizers, main dishes and desserts — incorporating dishes from the kitchens of four local couples. Joining the Johnstons in preparing a dish or two for the camera are Debbie and Sam Cool, Ira and Carrol Lourie and Joe and Chris Tischer. Michael Callas will present wine pairings. Lou Scally and Mary King will cohost the event.

Setting up the evening took some coordination, according to Sam Cool.

"We spent several weeks ironing out the menu and we worked with the Chef Todd and his staff to create those dishes the same way we have," Cool said. "Each piece of the menu, he's worked with us. He's prepared it, we've tasted it — to make sure the flavor is the same, the taste the same."

Cool said both he and his wife, Debbie, cook at home. She cooks a variety of things in the kitchen, and he also cooks a variety of food. But usually not in the kitchen.

"I like to be out on the deck grilling," he said. "Anything that can be grilled on a barbecue, I've tried it, at least a few times."

Reynolds said he shot photos of each plated dish at the tasting, so he and his staff have a model to use when plating during Art of Cooking. He shuffled through photos of salad, stuffed mushrooms, curried shrimp, Moroccan chicken, Black Forest torte and more.

Reynolds described the process during Art of Cooking. Diners will sit in the Fountain Head ballroom upstairs, while, downstairs, couples take their turn in front of the camera, demonstrating their dishes. Guest chefs will wear white chef's coats, provided by Reynolds.

Another camera records the action in the country club's main kitchen, where Reynolds and his staff prepare and plate the same dish for diners.

"There's big screens out there so people can see us plating up," Reynolds said. "So we're plating up while the next course is being prepared downstairs by the guest chefs. I'm making everything (for guests), but (the couples) prep everything to show what's going on."

Scally and King will chat with Reynolds and with the couples as food is prepared and plated.

The entire event is very interactive, Beth Johnston said. She said she and her husband will prepare the Moroccan chicken entree.

"It's like a sweet, honey-infused chicken. It's very spiced, but not hot and spicy," she said. "It'll be sort of like a (TV) cooking show. Basically, Mary will interview us while we're cooking. We're only on camera for only a few minutes. She might show me stirring honey into the onions."

Johnston said she cooks periodically at home, so she doesn't really call herself a cook. But the event is more about fun than performance.

And part of the fun is the banter among Scally, King and the guest chefs. But, of course, anything can happen on live TV, especially with food. Johnston said the emcees help smooth over the unexpected.

"The thing that makes it fun is Mary King (who) brings an element of humor," Johnston said. "But usually something funny happens."

If you go ...

WHAT: Art of Cooking

WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2

WHERE: Fountain Head Country Club, 13316 Fountain Head Road, Hagerstown

COST: $125 per person

CONTACT: Call 301-791-3132 or go to

MORE: Proceeds benefit Washington County Arts Council. Snow date is Sunday, Feb. 3.

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