Brookshire Brothers Hosts First Cooking Show

LUFKIN, Texas -- Brookshire Brothers staged its first-ever cooking show yesterday at the civic center in its headquarters town here, drawing in hundreds of would-be gourmands, and building recognition of its new Fresh Harvest banner. The company plans to hold the event annually, and eventually take it on the road to some of its 70 stores, Bruce Bryant, the chain's advertising director, told Progressive Grocer.

"In the past, like other companies, we've found ways to get involved with our communities," said Bryant. "This year we focused on selling our business, with the proceeds going to the Lufkin Junior League. We'd like to turn it into an annual destination event for people shopping during the holidays."

Brookshire Brothers recently converted one of its stores in Magnolia, Tex. to the Fresh Harvest banner, and attached that name to the new cooking show, said Bryant. The Fresh Harvest store features a chef who prepares foods on a daily basis.

At the Fresh Harvest cooking show, which was held in two sessions (one at 10 a.m. and one at 6:30 p.m.), regional celebrity chef Henry Wiens demonstrated 11 recipes, ranging from Portobello mushrooms to wild game. A deconstructed Black Forest Cake topped off the menu. Up to 100 samples of each recipe were passed out to attendees.

In addition to the samples and prize giveaways, vendor booths were set up to give cooks new ideas. Participating vendors included Kraft, General Mills, ConAgra Foods, and Sara Lee/Hillshire Farms.

The demo kitchen that Brookshire Brothers purchased for the cooking show will be taken on the road, according to Bryant. "Our stores are in some rural areas, and we'd like to test how far out these will work," he noted.

Brookshire Brothers has about 70 locations stretching from Louisiana to Central Texas. The company primarily operates under the Brookshire Brothers banner, although a few fly the B&B Foods, Budget Chopper, and Celebration Foods flags.
-- Jenny McTaggart
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