Michael Barna has been getting ready for you, Augusta.

Barna, a chef with Taste of Home magazine (circulation 3.2 million), does 45 cooking shows a year, some in the fall and some in the spring. His show Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center will be his first for the autumn series, so he’s been at the Taste of Home Cooking School headquarters in Wisconsin prepping himself.

“We fly in there about 11 days before each show season, about three weeks before it starts, and we all practice and get down our stage legs,” he said.

Barna doesn’t worry about the actual cooking aspects of the show — cooking is “like breathing to me,” he says — but he does have to be prepared for anything and everything that comes with doing a live show.

“You have to know how to react instantly,” he said. “You’re live. You’re in front of everybody. So if the pan blows up or something happens, you make a joke, you say something funny. You just keep moving along.”

Barna, who lives in Wynnewood, Pa., is the only man who does the live shows, and the only executive chef among the full-time staff of culinary specialists who perform.

“I travel from Ohio to Maine to do shows, so in a season, I’ll have anywhere from two to three shows a week, jumping from Maine back down to Pennsylvania and back up to New York,” he said.

Barna is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. He’s also a Frank Sinatra fan, and will likely begin the Augusta show with a little crooning by Ol’ Blue Eyes.

The chef will be teaching 10 recipes during the two-and-a-half hour show, beginning with pumpkin whoopie pies — a recipe he’s also taught in Pennsylvania, which is currently in a little dust-up with Maine over which state created the treat.

Barna will also be demonstrating recipes for a raspberry mustard-glazed pork roast, huevos rancheros, barbecue chicken pizza and a rich agave chocolate cake.

“Throughout all these recipes, I throw in interesting things related to the dish, whether it’s where is agave from, what else do they use it for — of course, tequila,” Barna said. “And then throughout the whole recipe, I pepper in tons of techniques and tips. That’s sort of my thing.”

Taste of Home and its sponsors give away 50 to 60 gifts during the show, but the audience goes home with a lot more than that.

“It’s all about getting them to understand these 10 recipes down pat so when they go away with the magazine — everybody gets a goodie bag with the magazine — they will easily be able to go home and truly make these exactly like it looks in the picture,” Barna said.

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

[email protected]