Bread bakers have a chance to show their stuff Oct. 1 at the Mill City Farmers Market first Bread Festival, sponsored by Gold Medal Flour. Categories are quick breads and yeast breads, with prizes awarded as well as general adulation. There also will demos by baking experts Zoë Francois and Michele Gayer, using the market's outdoor kitchen and a brick oven. Compatible Technology International, a nonprofit group working to fight hunger in the developing world, will be demonstrating its grain grinders. Kids, even adult kids, can create works of art with grains and seeds, while the Mill City Museum's Baking Lab will host demos. Contestants are encouraged to pre-register. For all the details, visit or go to millcity

Taste of the NFL challenge

Since 1992, when the Twin Cities' Wayne Kostroski founded the Taste of the NFL, football fans and gourmets have partied together to raise money in support of food banks nationwide. This year, you don't even have to leave the house. The Kick Hunger Challenge is raising funds online in a competition that pits fans of the 32 NFL teams against one another to be the most beneficent. By logging on to, fans donate $10 and up in the name of their team, with 100 percent of that money going to the food bank paired with that team. E-mail messages let everyone know how each team is doing. The General Mills Foundation made the first $100,000 donation. The Kick Hunger Challenge Champion will be announced Super Bowl week. You can still go to the traditional parties; the food will be much better than microwave nachos.

Ciao and chow

Festa Italiana aims to showcase Minnesota's Italian culture with food, exhibits, music and even exotic sports cars Friday and Saturday on Harriet Island in St. Paul. Saturday is the big day with Wheels of Italy featuring sexy Italian sports cars from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the St. Paul Yacht Club hosting an antique and classic boat show from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Add to that processions with saints, blacksmithing demos and gondola rides and it's a big weekend. Food? Try Al Baisi's, Cossetta's, Dari-ette, D'Amico & Sons, DeGidio's, I Nonni, Mancini's Char House, Pazzaluna and Unico. For all the details about this free event, visit