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Johnson Cooks Up Recipes For Family Friendly Food
1127 Dana
Dana Johnson is the founder of Danas Family Kitchen, teaches at Modesto Junior College, and has a cooking segment on Fox 40 the first Friday of every month. VIRGINIA STILL/The Times

With a love for food, local resident Dana Johnson is sharing ideas, teaching people how to cook, and hosting a live segment on television’s Fox 40 in Sacramento.

Johnson and a few other area moms were having lunch one day in Oakdale when the topic came up about her recipes and a friend suggested that she should teach a class. After that the ideas started flowing for Johnson.

After contacting the Ripon Community Center, Parks and Recreation, and the Casa De Community Center, Johnson got permission to hold cooking classes in her home as long as the students signed a waiver.

“The mom I was talking to said it would be fun to teach a couples class since I always have creative ideas,” said Johnson. “People used to call me and ask me what I was making for dinner because they needed inspiration.”

Being a picky eater herself and having several allergies, Johnson had to be creative with food. She started teaching a cooking class and then entered a contest that she saw on TV. The contest was the “Build a Better Lunch” with KCRA-Channel 3 News and Mercy Hospital for kids. The lunch that she created was a fruit sandwich with almond butter that provided two full servings of fruit and one full serving of vegetables so kids got three of the five servings that are required. Johnson was inspired by a woman in her cooking class that had a son with a peanut allergy. He could not eat peanut butter, Johnson said, but as long as the almonds were not processed in a peanut plant he could eat almond butter.

“The sandwich was tested on approximately 400 kids and they loved my lunch so much that I won the contest and they flew me to New York City to watch a taping of the Rachael Ray Show,” said Johnson.

During the taping of the show Johnson was able to meet Ray and it also happened to be her birthday. So Ray paid for Johnson and a guest to enjoy a birthday dinner at Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain Restaurant.

“We were treated like royalty,” said Johnson. “It was amazing.”

Another website that Johnson frequents is one called and for $25 per year one can become a member and take part in a variety of competitions. Johnson suggested that it is best for people to read the rules and make sure that they meet the criteria for each contest. The contests at times will include professionals and sometimes it is an amateur contest only.

The National Pork Board holds a contest every year and Johnson entered “The Next Pork Personality” in 2009. She took third place in the Live Grill-Off at the 2009 Food Network Wine and Food Festival held in New York City with Chef Guy Fieri as the celebrity judge.

Prior to going to New York City, Johnson was asked to do a segment at Fox 40 News in Sacramento. The segment is live so mistakes may happen and Johnson expressed that anchor Paul Robbins has bailed her out a few times. After doing a few random segments, Johnson was finally asked to hold a regular spot on the first Friday of the month in the 9 a.m. hour. For the past four years, Johnson has had a regular cooking segment once a month on Fox 40 and states that she feels like home when she is there.

“I take different guests on with me,” said Johnson. “I did a segment on fresh herbs with Danalicious original recipes and then I gave them a challenge to make a dessert with fresh herbs to make it fun.”

After the cooking segment everyone in the studio gets to sample the food. She expressed that they have a little party on Friday with great food.

Along with the cooking segment on Fox 40, Johnson also does private catering and private cooking parties that she calls Dana’s Family Kitchen. She will hold a cooking party for a minimum of 10 people for approximately three hours showcasing 10 to 13 original recipes. Johnson will do demonstrations and allow some hands on, but not everyone will cook. A menu is created like an all Italian menu or an all dessert party like one of her clients requested.

“They leave with all the recipes and we eat the whole way through,” said Johnson.

Dana’s Family Kitchen will travel throughout the area and has gone as far as Lake Tahoe for a private party.

Johnson also teaches a cooking class at Modesto Junior College through their community classes for adults. She stated that the classes are on occasion and the next one will be starting in April 2014.