I guess I come from a family cooks. On my dad’s side, my grandfather and his brother were in the restaurant business for 20 plus years. My grandpa Randy did some cooking/serving and his brother Dopey was the maitre d’ at the Halfway House (Petersburg, VA) for a number of years until he opened his own restaurant in Richmond, VA. I also have some other close family friends on that side who own a soul food restaurant(The Family Secrets) in RVA. Just recently, I found out (about a month ago) my dad was the lead fry cook a Mc Donald’s in high school. Apparently he held the record for cooking the most food in an hour, major feat (sarcasm lol). It was at my great uncle’s restaurant that my interest in food began. There I had my first Turkey Sandwich with bacon. I was about 10 years old and I never had a Turkey club sandwich before. I never knew the food rules allowed for such a winning match up. I think that was the aw inspiring moment that changed my taste pallet for life.
Then around the 6th grade I realized that I look at life and food from a different perspective. However, growing up in a traditional black household doesn’t give you much room for uniqueness, at least not without a bit of joking. I was with my cousins and sibling in the kitchen making Turkey sandwiches , which I fashioned after my uncle Dopey’s, and I ask “Why do we call bacon bacon if we always fry it?: We should call it Fryon.” Mass hysteria and laughter broke out. But it was a serious question to me, that led me to later on try to make bacon in the oven. To which I was rebuked “Boy you don’t put bacon in the over.” “But Why?” I asked. And with no real justification my kitchen privileges were revoked and I was no longer allowed to make my box brownies and turkey sandwiches.
(Check out my Tips for making crispy bacon in the oven)
It was then I realized that my family generally ate the same things all the time (this is starting to sound like the backdrop of Disney’s Ratatouille). Fired Chicken, meat loaf, turkey, pot roast and the regular sides we see on every African American dinner table were the daily norm in my house. I was growing tired of the same old same old. So while no one was home I started cooking random things. Potatoes, over easy eggs, and fried hot dogs is usually what I ended up with. But occasionally I’d sneak in my parent cabinet a toss a splash or two of some red wine in there. Voila, horrible fails but that’s how I got started. Then one day my aunt came over to get her hair done and turned to this channel I’d never heard of “The Food Network.” So, that became my favorite channel. As, I watched the food network I learned more and began to cook more and tried new things and my family would say things like “You eat like white people.”
College is really when my skills exploded. Why? Because I was hungry. When you’re hungry you figure things out very quickly. I continued to learn new dishes and techniques from the food network and applied them to my everyday food journey in my dorm room. I stay in the apartment style complex so I had a full kitchen to work with. I would take whatever we had in the fridge and cabinets and create amazing dorm room dishes. Honestly, I think the show chopped was based on my college experiences. My favorite creation was the ramen spaghetti made from Ramen Noodles, frozen hamburger patties, left over Prego sauce and whatever aromatics I had in the fridge. Then after I pledge, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity INC., and got introduced to the power of grill I was unstoppable. (see “The Grilling Bruhz” for my grilling journey and grilling tips).
Here I am today. I’m a regular guy who likes to cook and loves to eat. I hope through these blogs you get to see how anyone can cook and though not every dish is going to be perfect, it’s the journey that makes the meal enjoyable( also the seasonings, you have to season lol. (See our Quick Tips on Seasoning Here).