She’s here Thursday for Taste of Home
Q & A with culinary specialist Dana Elliott

Mary Mattingly

Dana Elliott


Dana Elliott knows to clearly label the salt and sugar in the kitchen, and what to do in case of a fire. These are part of the “stage” skills the Indiana culinary specialist has acquired after eight years on the road for the Taste of Home Cooking School. Many people will have the opportunity to see Elliott when she comes to Versailles on Thursday for the cooking school event. She’s been here before, and the crowd loved her wit and humor, and of course, cooking skills. Elliott travels a lot in her position, but welcomes the opportunity to be near her home state of Indiana, and family, who live outside of Indianapolis. “Go Hoosiers!” she proudly says.

Ripley Publishing (RP) caught up with Elliott, in-between cooking school gigs, to learn more about the woman behind the apron and microphone.

RP: Did you always like to cook/bake? How old were you when you got started?
loved cooking with my whole family and my memories start as early as 3 years old!  Thanksgiving is probably the best cooking memory I have.  Everyone, including both the men and the women, had a specific job/dish to do.  I knew at that young age that cooking was fun!

RP: What was the first cookbook you used?
My first cookbook came from my church.  I was 8 years old and had my first recipe published.  It was a no bake cookie. 

RP: What’s your favorite go-to recipe when someone requests a side dish?
My go-to side dish is mac ‘n cheese.  I’ll have to admit, it’s pretty tasty!

RP: How did you get to this position, and how long have you been doing so? How often do you travel? 
I started at TOHCS nearly eight years ago.  I travel approximately 40, 000 miles a year, covering the Midwest.

RP: We know you have to be able to cook, but what else does a culinary specialist like yourself have to do to make this all work on stage?
It’s kind of like rubbing your tummy and patting your head.  You need to be quick on your feet, and expect anything and everything!

RP: What is your least favorite part of the cooking school, and your favorite? 
I miss my family when I’m gone, and I love meeting home cooks from all across the country that love TOH, and love cooking!

RP: Every cook/chef has them…share a cooking disaster, on stage or off. 
I’ve accidently used salt, rather than sugar, enough times to now know to keep them across the kitchen from one another.  I once, accidently, caught myself on fire, and the audience thought I was doing a trick, so they started to applaud.  I was able to put the flames out, without injury, and go on with the show.

RP: When you’re not working, what are you doing?
Unbelievably, the answer is cooking! 

RP: What’s on your Thanksgiving table? 
I do all of the classics for Thanksgiving: turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy.  It is my favorite meal to make for my family.

RP: If you weren’t doing this for a living, what would you be doing? 
Sitting on a beach, somewhere warm, and ordering room service!

RP: What’s the one bit of advice you’d give to an aspiring baker/cook?  
Take care of your feet!  Seriously, though, chefs are always on their feet, and sooner or later it will take a toll on you.  Also, never be afraid to try to add something just a little bit different to the recipe.  Make it your own, and see if it works.  You might be surprised!

RP: What’s the most common mistake people make in preparing a dish or meal? 
I think that most people don’t allow enough time to set up the recipe first, before starting in.  Get all of your ingredients together and measured before you take the next step of the recipe.  It will make the rest of the instructions go by quickly and flawlessly!

RP: At the end of a show, how do you normally feel?
Tired and hungry!

The Taste of Home Cooking School will be held at South Ripley Elementary at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 5 p.m. Tickets cost $10, and are available at JayC Food stores in Osgood and Milan, and at Ripley Publishing’s office in person, or by phone and/or credit card, or online at

In addition to the cooking demonstration, there will be many door prizes given away, and each ticket holder receives a gift bag with coupons, kitchen gadgets and more. Call Ripley Publishing at (812) 689-6364 for tickets or stop by the office at 115 S. Washington Street in Versailles.

Gas leak hurts one technician

The Versailles Fire Department responded to a major gas leak on Thursday, Nov. 7, with one person injured. The call to the Danny Speer property at 2677 W County Road 100N came in to dispatch at 11:45 a.m. The Versailles Fire Department responded with two engines, tanker, and an EMS first response vehicle.

Upon arrival firefighters established that there were five 1,000 gallon LP tanks at the rear of the grain handling/storage facility, and one tank was leaking LP gas from a broken valve on the tank. Fire Chief Ben Sieverding reported that all possible ignition sources at the site had been eliminated by the Laughery Valley Co-op employees working at the site.

Firefighters laid 250 feet of 2½ inch hose that was then split into two – 1¾ inch fog lines. Firefighters wore full protective equipment, including Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) and operated the fog lines to suppress and disperse the vapors. Firefighters then advanced to close the valves on the four tanks that were not leaking but were attached by lines to the leaking tank. After the valves were turned off, the leaking tank was allowed to vent off the remainder of the LP gas.

Tim Mills Jr. was injured with a freezer burn from the gas and treated at the scene by Rescue 69 and the Ripley County Medic. He was not transported to the hospital.

The Osgood Volunteer Fire Department also assisted the Versailles Fire Department with a tanker for water supply. Approximately 600 gallons of LP gas leaked from the tank.

Departments on scene included: Versailles Fire Rescue, Osgood VFD, Rescue 69, Ripley County Medic and Ripley County EMA


Pick up this week's edition of the Osgood Journal for the stories below and more local news. Subscribe by clicking the subscribe link or call 812-689-6364.

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