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‘You’re the Chef’ to Serve Up Second Helping on Public Television WVIA

It’s been a successful recipe from the start: Mix equal parts education and fun, pepper with practical kitchen hints, and simmer in the creative juices of two genial co-hosts.

The result is “You’re the Chef,” WVIA’s weekly cooking show produced with Pennsylvania College of Technology, which premieres its second season Saturday, Oct. 16, at 12:30 p.m. And because even time-tested favorite dishes improve with proper presentation, viewers can expect some new items on the bill of fare.

Co-host and co-producer Tom “I’m not a chef” Speicher, Penn College’s broadcast media specialist and one of the ingredients of the program’s success, said, “We feel that the shows this year are stronger. The production values are better, we have a better mix of recipes that the average person can prepare, and Chef Paul makes fun of my lack of cooking expertise more often.”

Chef Paul Mach, an assistant professor of food and hospitality management/culinary arts at Penn College, who also is co-host and co-producer of “You’re the Chef,” shares his know-how as a counterpoint to Speicher’s naivete a premise that carries broad audience appeal and ensures instruction without intimidation.

Speicher says the good-natured interplay, coupled with Mach’s knack for not condescending to the lesser cooks in his audience, keeps the mood light.

“We want people to be able to pick up some helpful hints while learning to make some wonderful and practical dishes,” Speicher noted. “And we want them to be entertained when watching the show.”

Also excited by the second season is Mark Thomas, vice president for broadcasting at WVIA, who said he is thrilled with the way public television viewers have embraced “You’re the Chef.”

“Any time you add a program, any time you tinker with a lineup that’s been successful, you always worry,” he said. “It’s gratifying to add a quality local production like ‘You’re the Chef ‘ and have members and viewers support it.?

While the show was a success in its initial two years on local cable in the Williamsport area it captured a bronze Telly Award for excellence in non-network television and a silver award from Admissions Marketing Report continued public acceptance translated into high ratings for the opening season on WVIA.

An example of that popularity came amid the August membership campaign, during which Speicher and Mach cooked live during pledge breaks. WVIA bettered its goal for the segment and, Thomas said, it was the most successful of the three Saturdays of on-air cooking during the drive.

“We talk to our members all the time,” he added, “and when they tell us they enjoy the program, it’s nice to tell them, ‘You’ll love the second season.'”

The 1999-2000 schedule includes 15 shows ranging from “Ravioli Roundup” to “Mushroom Mania” shot primarily in an on-campus kitchen planned and built by faculty and students from Penn College’s School of Construction and Design Technologies. Those episodes will be bookended by “Barbecue Blast” and “Great Grilling Grub,” which were taped on Mach’s deck.

Each half-hour show also includes 45-second informational segments featuring faculty and students in the School of Hospitality. “Cooking Keys” offers basic advice from Chefs Craig Cian and Mike Ditchfield and student assistants Amy Pryslopski and Rachel Brown, and “The Sweet Tooth” delivers dessert tips courtesy of Chef Monica Lanczak.

You’re the Chef also aired on WITF, Harrisburg; WYBE, Philadelphia and WPSX, State College, during its initial year with WVIA, but Thomas and Speicher say bigger plans are afoot. This fall, the show is being marketed to more than 300 public television stations nationwide for broadcast consideration.

“You’re the Chef” also has picked up a widespread audience via its Web site, which features show recipes, cooking information and a monthly recipe contest that recently attracted a winning entry from Qingdao, China.

You’re the Chef receives some help in the kitchen from Wegmans Food Markets, which supplies food products for the series, and from Steelite International, Inc., which donated tableware.

Credits for production include:

Executive producer Mark Thomas Producers Tom Speicher and Chef Paul Mach Production manager James M. Langan Director Jim Frushon Lighting designer Chris Fry Audio Kim Herron, Joe Joyce Music Jim Frushon Camera operators Patrick Toomey, Amber Rubenstein, Chris Fry, Jim Langan, Richard Briggs Graphics Jim Frushon Motion graphics editing Scott Spinucci, Amber Rubenstein Engineering Dan Mattern, Harold Black, Gordon Thomas, Don Francis Voice-over Charlotte Lassalas Researcher Olivia Horn Student assistants Rachel Brown, Amy Pryslopski On-air promotion Ben Payavis Public relations Rory Giovannucci Penn College Office of College Information & Community Relations Director Elaine Lambert Penn College School of Hospitality Dean William Butler

Season II Episodes: #201: Barbecue Blast #202: Ravioli Roundup #203: Nuts About Chicken #204: Sleep-In Strudels #205: Mushroom Mania #206: Sea of Scallops #207: Chef Paul’s Italian Specials #208: French Food #209: Loads of Lasagna #210: Sweet Sensation #211: Super Soup #212: Keg of Beef #213: Derby Delight #214: Tantalizing Tart #215: Great Grilling Grub

Of special note: Mark your calendars for Wednesday, Oct.13, from 7 to 9 p.m. for the kick-off event of the second season of “You’re the Chef” at WVIA. The evening will include a live one-hour Conversations episode (8 to 9 p.m.) with Speicher and Mach, during which the “Dynamic Duo of Cooking” will discuss their show, take viewer calls and e-mails, and exhibit their culinary craft.

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