Penns Valley

Local chefs share knowledge with Grange Fair crowd

Kris McCloskey was the first person Saturday morning to taste a pan-fried goat cheese salad with fresh tomato and basil, which she said “was to die for.”

It was a simple dish made by Red Horse Tavern chef and owner Justin Leiter.

He was the first guest to participate in the inaugural Celebrity Chef Farm to Table event at the Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair.

“It’s new and we’re not sure what to expect, but it’s something I thought of that meets the mission of the fair — to educate people — and also promote local products,” McCloskey said. “We invited a few local chefs to demonstrate a meal or two and use what we call ‘Pa. Preferred’ produce that comes from Pennsylvania.”

She said agriculture is one of the leading industries in the commonwealth, and part of her goal as a Grange Fair committee member is to help educate people on where their food comes from and inspire them to try their hand at cooking with help from experts.

“Whether we have a good turnout or not, I think we still plan to do this again next year and see where it take us,” she said.

Leiter was the first chef featured at the event.

He held a 15-minute demonstration for a packed Southside Stage crowd.

He said he wanted to demonstrate a recipe that is simple but that can be made more elaborate with the right foods.

“It’s something anyone can do with general household ingredients,” he said. “It’s something similar to what we have as an appetizer (at Red Horse Tavern), but can be made as an entrée if you add a protein like shrimp or fish or whatever you like.”

For those new at cooking, Leiter suggests to “keep it simple” by using a few flavors that can be the highlight of the meal.

“You don’t want to go overboard because one ingredient can wash out another,” he said. “And if it’s fresh, it will stand out.”

The event will be held through the week featuring other local chefs.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo

If you go

All events start at 9 a.m. at the Southside Stage

Sunday: Liz Hoffner, of Revival Kitchen

Monday: Abe Gingerich, of Abe’s Cafe in Belleville

Friday: Mike Benjamin, of Benjamin’s Catering

Saturday: Zach Lorber, of Penn State Altoona