HARRISBURG, Pa. Pennsylvania Farm Show visitors can learn how to create culinary masterpieces using local ingredients during live cooking demonstrations and contests featuring popular chefs, said Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding today.

"The Farm Show offers visitors the unique opportunity to go straight from the farm to the table," said Redding. "The PA Preferred Culinary Connection is a popular attraction that brings together talented chefs to share their knowledge and imaginative recipes that can be prepared at home using local products."

The PA Preferred Culinary Connection stage, located in the Main Hall of the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center, will feature demonstrations by Ed Cotton and Tiffany Derry, both of Bravo's "Top Chef," and Howard Hemler, featured on numerous TV shows as the world's fastest omelet-maker.

Chefs from Pennsylvania restaurants, national TV programs and cooking schools will take the stage at different hours throughout the eight-day show, and each day will be themed with a different Pennsylvania food product. Samples of every dish will be offered to audience members, and a Pennsylvania wine will be suggested for pairing.

The PA Preferred Best Burger competition will host teams of local celebrities to compete for burger dominance using PA Preferred beef. Sponsored by the PA Beef Council, the contest starts at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 11.

New this year, the Philly Phanatic, mascot of the Philadelphia Phillies Major League Baseball team, will appear on the Culinary Connection stage Saturday, Jan. 8 from 1 p.m. - 2 p.m. to entertain visitors with his unique style of humor and dancing.

The Culinary Connection is sponsored by Thermador, Giant, Capital Blue Cross and the Pennsylvania Winery Association. For a complete schedule of Culinary Connection events, including biographies and photos of chefs, visit www.papreferred.com, and click on "PA Preferred Culinary Connection."

Redding reminded grocery shoppers to always look for the PA Preferred logo, a blue keystone with a gold checkmark, to ensure they are buying fresh ingredients while supporting Pennsylvania's farmers and food processors.

"Purchasing PA Preferred products is a great way to bring the taste of the Pennsylvania Farm Show to your home," Redding added.

The Pennsylvania Farm Show is the largest indoor agricultural event in the nation, featuring nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 290 commercial exhibitors. The show runs from Jan. 8-15 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg. Admission is free and parking is $10 per vehicle. For more information, visit www.farmshow.state.pa.us.