‘Relish Cooking Show’ this Saturday
Dorothy “Dot” Gragg of Boone will be honored for her culinary
contributions to the community during “The Relish Cooking Show” on Saturday, Nov. 5, at Watauga High
School in Boone.
Gragg will be recognized as the “Hometown Cooking Hero,” based on her long-standing reputation as a great cook who generously shares her kitchen delights with others.
In fact, since Jerry Moore has been head coach of Appalachian State University’s football team, Gragg has presented him and his coaching staff with one of her made-from-scratch cakes after each win. Last Saturday’s win over Georgia Southern was Moore’s 205th at ASU.
“It’s sure something we look forward to after each win,” Moore said. “She’s been doing this for so long — it’s become a tradition that we really appreciate.”
Moore may not remember the flavor of every cake he’s received, but one thing is for sure: “They are all good and disappear quickly,” he said.
“When Coach Moore first came to town, my late husband, Paul, and our good friend, Dale Green, told him that if he won his first game, that I would make a cake for him,” Gragg said. “So, he started expecting it. I started doing it after his first win and haven’t even thought about stopping.”
Moore is no stranger to the hospitality of the Gragg family.
“When Margaret and I first moved to Boone,” Moore said, “we lived in Dr. (Richard) Furman’s cabin, just across the field from the Graggs. ‘Mrs. Edna,’ Dot’s mother-in-law, called us many times to say she had a pan of homemade yeast rolls right out of the oven, and did I want some? It didn’t take me long to get over there. I’d bring them home and we’d eat those rolls like there was no tomorrow.”
The gifts of good cooking and hospitality run deep in the Gragg family.
While the elder Mrs. Gragg is no longer able to cook, Dot and her daughter, Paula Ferguson, as well as the other women in the family, keep the stoves hot and are known for their culinary specialties.
In addition to the cakes, Gragg began helping family and friends more than 20 years ago with weddings and special events.
Word of her talents and skills spread quickly.
During the late 1970s and early ’80s, Gragg served on the social committee at Mount Vernon Baptist Church. Responsible for planning all the food events at the church, her volunteer services evolved into a family event. She enlisted the help of Paul, son Mitchell and daughter Paula with planning, setting up and serving. As her children married, their families became involved, too, as well as other family members.
“For many years, Dot Gragg has been a consistent presence in a variety of our ongoing ministries,” said Bud Russell, minister of education and administration at Mount Vernon. “She has coordinated and participated in more functions than I can begin to name while I’ve been here — and well before I arrived 28 years ago. She has served in our homecoming meals, Vacation Bible School family nights, fall family festivals, wedding receptions, dessert socials, bereavement meals and weekly snacks for the 3-year-old Sunday school class, which she co-teaches.”
Russell particularly loves being on the receiving end “with many others” of Gragg’s cakes that she delivers on their birthdays.
“She is also a great mobilizer to involve helpers in our functions,” he said. “It’s a wonder she hasn’t had her phone disconnected, as she has been called upon so often to coordinate events. No matter how large of an event we are attempting to do, or even when she might not have felt well, Dot has never refused when I’ve asked her to help. She has threatened to quit a few times, but I think she says that just to make me sweat.”
At last estimate, Gragg has prepared food for more than 300 events.
Gragg is a retired hairdresser who takes care of her grandchildren during the day and helps with the care for her elderly mother-in-law.
She also enjoys working closely with Paula, who inherited much of her mother’s love and talent for the kitchen.
Gragg’s mother, too, was a big influence in her love for cooking.
“I was the only girl in a family with five boys,” Gragg said. “We lived on a farm, and even before I was 11, I was helping mother fix supper and clean the kitchen. It was something I always liked to do.”
Today, Gragg prefers baking her signature cakes more than anything else that comes from her kitchen.
Gragg’s recognition is only one part of “The Relish Cooking Show,” presented by Mountain Times Publications and taking place from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5. Doors open at 4:30 p.m., and a VIP event takes place at 5:30 p.m.
The show is hosted by celebrity chef Jon Ashton, who will conduct a lively, two-hour show that features authentic recipes, using colorful cooking tips and new ideas for the kitchen. Jimmy Crippen, owner of Crippen’s Country Inn in Blowing Rock, will be the emcee.
General admission tickets cost $11, premier seating costs $18.50, and VIP seating with access to the backstage party costs $35. Tickets are available at the Mountain Times Publications office, located at 474 Industrial Park in Boone, and also at the door. A limited number of tickets will be given away free on a first come, first served basis at the MTP office. For more information, call (828) 264-6397.