Mom had her kitchen and Dad had his grill. Outside of the holidays and those rare occasions when Mom went to her friend’s for bridge club, Dad rarely ventured into the kitchen to prepare a meal. Grab a beer from the fridge, yes. Make a meal that’s waiting for his family’s arrival, no. That’s one of those socio-economic trends most sited, men went to work and women stayed home with the kids. Those days are long gone with career-oriented women in the workforce for decades. Having Dad in the kitchen for more than grabbing a beer from the fridge has been going on for a while. Some credit needs to be given to TV Chefs like Graham Kerr, Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay. They were pioneers of making it cool for a man to be in the kitchen. In fact, men chefs out number their female counterparts 57-33 on the Food Network. Move over Julia, we’re here for more than beer (although it never hurts to wet one’s whistle while providing sustenance for your family). My culinary journey to the kitchen started when I learned of Kraft mac and cheese from a neighbor. Up until then it was mac and cheese the old fashioned way. Homemade, by my Mom. Not this stuff. Who couldn’t make mac and cheese? Boil water, throw noodles in, measure ¼ cup of milk and a little slab of butter. Wait for the noodles to cook, mix all together and Voila`! Teenagers were dancing in the streets and James Beard was rolling in his grave. There was no stopping me at that point, potpies, mini pizzas and how could I forget grilled cheese sandwiches made with Velveeta Cheese (at least that’s what they say it is). It wasn’t until I started working in restaurants that I realized that I could cook for myself and it didn’t have to involve opening a box. In fact, I was 17 when I cooked my first “date” meal. I pulled out all the stops and made sweet and sour shrimp I learned in Home Economics class. It must have been okay as she didn’t get sick and I’m pretty sure we had a second date. So men, be adventurous and learn a dish or two, surprise the lady of the house and spend some time in your kitchen, at least longer than a quick visit to the fridge.
Pete Ruffing is the Sales Director at M3 Group in downtown Lansing. He and his wife of 14 years Brenda live in Okemos.