Let’s get this straight right off the bat. I’m not a chick magnet. Far from it. I am, by some stretch of good luck a 50 year old father of two great boys who would each kill me if I told you that they are absolutely chick magnets. So I’m not going to say that.
I always tell people I’m just Jim. I’m not Mr. Collins. I think this is a way of trying to stave off getting older. As though avoiding the prefix will chase away the pains. It’s also, frankly, how I think of me. I barely graduated from high school and got kicked out of college on my first try. (as a music major studying opera at UNLV). I failed photography in high school (and then, again, in college) but won awards for my pictures. I’ve been lucky enough in work to forge a career first in sales and marketing and lately running companies filled with great people, all smarter than me.
Emeril Lagasse inspired me to cook. It’s a true story. One night I came home from work tired and frustrated after a long day and switched on the TV to decompress. The Food Network was on and “Emeril Live” had just started. I don’t remember what he made that day but I remember that he made cooking look like a lot of fun. Less than two weeks later I had a dinner party 8 of my closest friends (well – that would probably be ALL of my friends actually) and I did all of the cooking, right through to a chocolate ganache covered layer cake with big chunks of chocolate sticking from the top… The food was good. (Thanks Emeril for a bunch of great recipes!) My friends had fun. I was hooked.
I still celebrate the great food network chefs who taught me so much. Emeril, Tyler Florence, Ina Garten, Bobby Flay, Alton Brown, Rachel Ray, Michael Chiarello and so many others. Mainly these days I cook without recipes and use techniques and methods I’ve learned from these folks and from a bunch of great cookbooks. I must confess that while I can bake, I don’t particularly like to bake, and so when someone says, ‘can I bring anything?’ I often take them up on the offer and have them bring desert.