Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sam, I am (a fan).

Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting a culinary personality that I admire.  His name is Sam Zien, but is better known as Sam the Cooking Guy.  Now before you wonder why I'm not talking about a restaurant I ate at, I wanted to take time out and acknowledge a guy who is not only inspiring, but entertaining too.  Oh, and he has 12 Emmys for his hard work, so show some respect!

Sam was like a lot of us, working at a place where he wasn't exactly happy at.  He wanted to do something he was passionate about, and so Sam quit his job and began working on an idea he had.  It was a travel show that would educate viewers on how to familiarize themselves with the food, culture, transportation, etc of a foreign country.  His first series of segments would be on Tokyo, and he was preparing to film a demo when 9/11 happened.  That changed everything.

Having no current employment, a show idea that wasn't really feasible anymore, and bills to pay, Sam was at a bit of a crossroads: Settle for some other job, or try a different show?  With the support of his wife, he decided on a cooking show (despite the fact he had no formal cooking experience whatsoever).  What would make him stand out in a sea of cable and PBS broadcasts?

His approach was to make food that was simple, yet delicious.  I wouldn't compare him to anything semi-homemade, but Sam makes a point of utilizing ingredients viewers can find at their local grocery store.  He also has some straightforward cooking techniques, which would make even the most novice of cooks feel at ease.  Sam the Cooking Guy was picked up by a local San Diego television station, and the rest, as they say, is history.

A second show, Just Cook This!, is a national series on Discovery Health channel.  He's also got three  two cookbooks published, with a third on the way focusing on grilling.  Sam also (normally) holds monthly cooking classes, but at the moment, I believe he's on hiatus preparing for the newest addition to his family.  He did a live version of his show last month, where part of the proceeds went towards the Salvation Army Kroc Center Scholarship Fund.

Why am I a fan of Sam?  He's a regular guy who likes to cook.  He has a recurring habit of burning his mouth when trying his dishes (it's called patience, Sam).  He's the Jewish guy who taught me how to make adobo I get compliments on.  I'm reminded that cooking is both fun and rewarding.

If you are in Orange County, you can catch him on Cox channel 3.  Sam the Cooking Guy is 100 episodes strong and is broadcast throughout the state, as well as in Nevada, Arizona, Virginia and Georgia. Here's the link to find your local station.

Yes, Sam.  I am a fan.  I also ate green eggs and ham in kindergarten.  That's probably why I love brekkie so much. 

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