Who wants to be a celebrity?


Do you have mad cooking skills? An oversized personality? Do you like to say “Bam!” a lot for no particular reason?

Would you mind appearing on the same national television channel that made celebrities out of those Jersey Shore dudes?

If your answer to the first three questions is yes and the last question is no (surely there was a more consistent way to phrase them), then MTV may be looking for you.

The erstwhile music channel is jumping into the cooking-show game with Food School, a televised contest among aspiring amateur cooks and bakers. We don’t have many details yet, but the contestants will all have to live together (don’t forget, MTV invented the reality television genre with The Real World, which featured attractive but obnoxious young people living together and getting into arguments). They will also receive culinary training from what the casting folks are calling “legendary food masters.”

The winner will receive an apprenticeship at a restaurant and the fleeting fame that comes from appearing on MTV.

This is our favorite part: The show is looking for contestants of all kinds, “provided they appear to be between the ages of 18 and 23.”

Dinner Tonight

You just can’t beat the old recipes. Kris Johnson sent in this recipe for lamb casserole that was printed in Ida Bailey Allen’s Step-By-Step Picture Cookbook, which came out in 1952. Ms. Johnson’s mother gave it to her the year she got married, in part because both the mother and the author went to the same school, Stout Institute in Menomonie, Wisc., though Ms. Allen graduated several years earlier.

Casserole of Lamb

3 pounds neck of lamb
3 tablespoons flour
¼ cup sliced onion
2 tablespoons drippings or butter
2 cups canned tomatoes
½ teaspoon powdered dried mint
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup raw rice
Preheat oven to 325°-350°.
Cut lamb in bite-sized pieces; roll in flour and brown with the onion in the drippings. Add the tomatoes and seasonings. Put in a casserole — the rice sprinkled between each layer. Barely cover with boiling water. Cover and bake for 2½ hours. If it seems a little dry, add water as needed.
— Kris Johnson

Have a recipe that is fast and healthy? Send it to food@theblade.com or Dinner Tonight, The Blade, 541 N. Superior St., Toledo, OH 43660.

The application process involves filling out a survey and submitting an audition tape. The survey asks such questions as “What kind of people do you usually get along with, and what types of people get under your skin?” which ought to tell you everything you need to know about the show.

To apply, visit www.foodschoolcasting.com. If you don’t have a computer, you’re probably not the sort of person they are looking for, anyway.


Waterville? By the end of the town’s first Pub Crawl, you might be thinking of it instead as Scotch-and-Waterville.

Here is the deal: On Saturday, up to 100 people — only 21 and older, please — will take an increasingly festive tour of some of the best bars that the quaint town of Waterville has to offer. They will begin at 5 p.m. at Zinful, then head purposefully to Chowders ‘N Moor. From there they will walk more unsteadily to Smedlap’s Smithy, from which they will weave their way to Shawn’s Irish Tavern, only to stumble thence to Mad Anthony’s Tavern.

Obviously, it will be vital to arrange for safe and reliable transportation. Taxi service will be available.

This pub crawl is being organized by the Waterville Area Chamber of Commerce as a way of casting the town as a dining and drinking destination. The non-refundable registration fee is $25, which includes a T-shirt (sizes XXL or larger are an additional $3), complimentary food, and access to drink specials. Proceeds will go to Bring Back the Boom, which benefits the Waterville fireworks.

To register or for more information, call the Chamber of Commerce at 419-878-5188.

‘Shine ‘n’ wine

Mac McDonald’s father was a Texas moonshiner. That, in itself, is inherently interesting.

When he was just 12 years old, Mr. McDonald tasted fine French Burgundy for the first time, and his life was changed forever. Not only was the taste somewhat more complex than Texas moonshine, but it also compelled him to want to become a winemaker. Since 1997, he has been producing what Walt Churchill’s Market wine guy Austin Beeman calls some of the finest Pinot Noirs in the entire world.

Mr. McDonald is one of very few African-American winemakers, and one of fewer still whose fathers made moonshine.

He will be pouring glasses of his wines at the Monclova Township branch of Walt Churchill’s Market on Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. You can meet him and sample the wine for $25, and maybe even talk a little corn likker.

For more information, call 419-794-4000. The store is at 3320 Briarfield Blvd.

Special nights

On the one hand, you have little-known Italian wines. On the other hand, you have an old-fashioned clambake.

Or, you could just enjoy both hands.

With the coming of warmer weather, a couple of the local Mainstreet Ventures restaurants are holding special nights to focus on some of their favorite things. Ciao! Ristorante will have an evening pairing dishes with particular wines on June 6, while Real Seafood Company will host a clambake on June 18. Both events will begin at 6 p.m.

The Ciao! shindig will begin with an asparagus-and-morel-mushroom risotto appetizer served with a glass of Aurora Rose sparking wine. That will be followed by a salad of tomatoes, mixed greens, and ricotta, with a glass of Cecchi Sangiovese or Fontana Candida Frascati. The entree will be a choice of halibut sautéed with roasted fennel and Swiss chard paired with a Sartori Valpolicella, or pancetta-wrapped pork tenderloin with polenta, fava beans, and chanterelle mushrooms paired with a Banfi Belnero.

The dessert course will be a lemon cake with creme fraiche and a warm berry compote, along with a glass of Florus Dessert Moscadello. The cost for this Ciao! Italian dinner is $69.95, including tax and tip. Reservations are required at 888-456-3463.

If you are feeling more shellfishy, the clambake begins with bleu cheese coleslaw, followed by a 1¼ pound Maine lobster, mussels, littleneck clams, corn on the cob, and boiled redskin potatoes, with strawberry shortcake for dessert and house wines and certain beers for drinks.

The cost for the Real Seafood clambake is $59.95, including tax and tip. Reservations are required at 888-456-3463, which sharp-eyed readers will notice is the same number for the reservations at Ciao!.

Items for Morsels should be submitted up to two weeks before an event to food@theblade.com.