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Contest judge Madalon Lambert, a volunteer who runs some of the other cooking contests at the fair, explained that evaluating food in front of an audience is a challenge.“I tell my judges, 'Don’t lick your fingers, and present yourself well. Your decision should be yours alone,'” Lambert said.

Adult sisters Katie and Mallory Hinks, of Ojai, enjoyed working together in the kitchen as they baked their entries of Katie’s shortbread cookies and Mallory’s chewy, spicy, ginger molasses cookies.

"Right now, we don’t even know if (King Arthur Flour) will sponsor this next year.

But if they do, we’ll have to think of something.”Nicolas Marselian, 16, of Camarillo, dropped off his bacon pecan sandies made from a family recipe.

His mom, Nicolette, said her son and 14-year-old daughter Isabel like to surprise her with cookies.

Isabel made crème brulee sugar cookies for the contest.“I don’t like cooking,” Nicolas said. I like to bake cookies for when Mom comes home.”Nicolette Marselian said she appreciates the effort.“I love coming home to the smell of something cooking,” she said.

In December, he and brother Massimiliano Carrara added the first of what will be a series of online classes to the cooking school's website. The class fee: .)Check the Carrara Kitchen website for upcoming in-person classes and to inquire about private and professional sessions (5148 N. The brothers Carrara also operate Carrara Pastries cafes in Moorpark and Agoura Hills (

18, followed by Indian/Pakistani Cooking with Farhana Sahibzada on Jan. The cost per class is (1025 Old Farm Road, 805-497-2761, The restaurant is owned by franchisee John Carta (520 Ventu Park Road, Suite 180, 805-262-0060, https:// in Simi Valley will mark its seventh anniversary with an event that includes free cheese pizza slices from 2 to 4 p.m. It is located in the Regal Cinema Plaza (2667 Tapo Canyon Road, 805-520-3500, Entrees plated "with sharing in mind" range from curry tempura fried chicken with parsnip puree, coconut and mango () to crispy-skin salmon with mushroom and tomato confit ().A bacon jam burger with blue cheese and fries () is also available, as are salads (-) and sides like deep-fried brussels sprouts (). In its efforts to tout as many California Restaurant Month participants as possible on its website devoted to the January-long event, the California Travel & Tourism Commission overstates the role of at least one region: the Conejo Valley.Is brushing up your knife skills (or learning to cook, period) on your list of New Year's resolutions?This guide to culinary classes offered in Ventura County can help: Moorpark-based pastry chef turned Food Network star Damiano Carrara launched Carrara Kitchen last fall as a place to share family recipes from his native Italy.As a result, the four judges had the enviable — or unenviable — task of deciding which of the 30 cookies they each tasted was the best, based on flavor, creativity and originality, appearance and user-friendliness of the recipe.

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