Parade magazine is bringing its national "Dash Around the Table" tour to Naples, which carries both Parade and Dash magazines — and along with it, one of its most popular writers.
The magazine blends original content with popular features from Bon Appétit, Epicurious.com, Gourmet and Parade. Its celebrity chef, Jon Ashton, is the star of the show, and the vibrant British expatriate has a legion of fans in Southwest Florida.
The centerpiece of the event Saturday will be a 2½-hour interactive "Make Mealtimes Matter Show" with Ashton entertaining and educating.
"I love to cook with a smile," he said. "The 'Dash Around the Table' tour is equal parts laughter and fun."
If you go
‘Dash Around the Table’ Tour and Expo
What: Celebrity chef Jon Ashton will be doing a two-hour cooking show, and attendees will be entertained and get a chance to win door prizes.
When: 3 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26
Where: Community School of Naples, 13275 Livingston Road, North Naples
Admission: $15, includes gift bag with coupons and product samples, and the Dash recipe booklet; $40 includes back-stage party admission and reception, meet-and-greet with Ashton, preferred seating, gift bag with coupons and product samples and recipe booklet. Limited tickets available.
Something else: Tickets will be available at will call. Bring your receipt and/or photo ID to will call. Tickets are not available for advance distribution and are nonrefundable.
Information: Visit www.NaplesNews.com/Dash, www.DashRecipes.com/tour or call 239-213-5355
Part of the fun is the cooking demonstrations and tips attendees receive from Ashton, which will include smart shopping tips, shortcuts and meal plans for busy families. The accompanying Food Village Expo will feature local chefs, regional specialties, entertainment, retailers, artisans and other area businesses.
The Daily News spoke with Ashton the past week to get a sneak peek at what to expect at this weekend's event.
Daily News: What can ticketholders expect from "Dash Around the Table"?
Jon Ashton: I have about six recipes planned for the evening. We will get to look into the nitty-gritty with each recipe. Sometimes, when you watch a chef or a really good cook, you wonder if you can do that, too. You can make great meals in no time, and we're going to show you how to make them easily and quickly.
Daily News: For people who want to explore and press culinary bounds, what do you suggest?
Jon Ashton: Think outside the cart. Use spices in your cooking. Try something new. If you're always putting the same thing in your cart, put something new in it. If you always make white rice, try some basmati rice, or if you always use brown lentils, try some red lentils. If you always eat salmon, go for a piece of cod. And if something goes wrong, just scratch your head and start again.
Daily News: Is there one herb you must have in your kitchen?
Jon Ashton: Fresh thyme — it's like the Oprah Winfrey of the kitchen. It just gets along with everyone. I've never met anything that works better with every ingredient and I've never found anything that it doesn't work well with.
Daily News: What's your favorite spice to have in the kitchen?
Jon Ashton: Chinese five-spice is delicious. With french fries or mashed potatoes or a piece of fish or chicken, mix in one tablespoon of five-spice and six tablespoons of kosher salt (editor's note: use to taste), and it makes a great seasoning. You'll have the lips like (Mick) Jagger.
Daily News: Are there any tricks Americans can borrow from British cooks?
Jon Ashton: Keep it simple and don't get too fancy. Keep it unpretentious.
Cooking should be as cozy as putting on your old jeans. Pour yourself a glass of wine and when your friends ask to help with dishes, let them. Put on the Beatles, pour a cocktail, and after the dishes are finished, have dessert and a wee chat. The friends will love you even more. People want to give, so give them that opportunity.
Daily News: Share any suggestions as to how we could get children to eat as many different things, as say, French kids eat?
Jon Ashton: Have a globe in your home, and each week, pick a different country to learn about it as a family. Look at some of their native foods. Let the kids be a part of the experience in learning about the geography and food. We are so fortunate to be able to go to the store and grab these ingredients, so there are so many things we can cook together.
A brilliant country to start with is Italy. Look at the boot that is Italy and pick cuisine from the different parts of the country to try.
Daily News: What are you most passionate about when it comes to mealtime?
Jon Ashton: It is important to make mealtimes matter and enjoy time with family. There's nothing better than when you're all laughing together. My granny always taught me the gift of giving, and we used to bake cookies and deliver them to the fire station. That's why I fell in love with cooking.
Whenever I have my daughter, who is 6 years young, we cook. Today when it comes to a recipe for Dash or Parade I always think of the family cooking and making those memories.
Daily News: You're from Liverpool, but you've talked about your love of America. What makes it so special to you?
Jon Ashton: I dreamed about America as a child and coming here. America has put its arms around me, saying, "This is what you want to do and I'm gonna give you the chance to do so." It's absolutely smashing when I go to schools to meet the children and share with them my passion for cooking and life.
Daily News: What can you share about returning to Southwest Florida?
Jon Ashton: I definitely want to thank my editor, Maggie Murphy, and the team at PARADE and Dash. Without all their hard work and our national sponsors we wouldn't have a show coming to Naples. I'm really looking forward to being back in Naples and if you haven't been to our show before, we're going to learn so much and laugh so hard. And don't forget to visit DashRecipes.com, where you can get tons and tons of recipes.