The C.M.C.S. Story

The title is a joke.  I’m not a chick magnet.  Sorry to disappoint.  I started to cook in my 30s.  A friend of mine told me once that if you did anything for more than 5 years you should be good at it.  Well, it’s been nearly 20.  I’m much better than average.  I’m nowhere near as good as great.  I cook for friends and family.  To me, cooking is expression.  It is a way to open my home and heart to anyone who walks through the door.  It is also a way to unwind at the end of a long day at work.  It is at once invigorating and tiring. I’ve never seen it as a chore.  When I do, I’ll stop.

Chick Magnet Cooking School came about when my nephew Joel lost his wonderful mom Rene (pronounced Reen) to cancer.  He was in college and lonely and a little adrift.  I asked him to come over one night to cook with me.  When he got here I told him that he was the first student of Jim’s Chick Magnet Cooking School.  The purpose of which was to teach young men to cook.  The purpose of which, of course, was to help them woo women.  Joel and I had a few sessions in my kitchen.  Joel is now married to his wonderful wife Cristy who lets him cook on occasion.  I take all of the credit, of course.

The next students of Chick Magnet Cooking School were my son Mitch’s friends.  They’ve been to two extended sessions.  They come over in the afternoon and cook multi-course dinners for their friends. They do all the prep (I’m trying to figure out how to teach them how to clean up…), and then they prepare the courses, plate and serve them.  They must present each course with a description.  On their own they decided to wear black shirts.  The girls also dressed for the evening.  As I watched and celebrated them all I realized that all the bad stuff that is written about today’s youth isn’t all there is to know.  There’s a lot of good too, and great when it gets a chance to come out.  Those sessions motivated this blog.

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You’ll note that in a couple of the slides above I’m wearing a chef shirt.  There’s a long story behind this that I’ll tell in another place.  Suffice it to say that while it was sort of a joke to start with I actually use it when I’m going to be doing a lot of cooking.  It’s handy.  I don’t care if I get oil on it.  It’s relatively cool and comfortable.

I must also dedicate this blog to the three great “chicks” in my life.  My wife Angela who never tells me my food is bad no matter how bad it actually is (and believe me, sometimes it’s bad!) My mom, Claire Collins, who taught me to clean while I cooked but who also taught me that guests are to be honored, and my sister Allison, whose courage never fails to inspire me.  She, the world’s foremost authority on the California Horned Lizard, who decided that academia wasn’t for her, and opened a quilting shop in quaint Berlin, Wisconsin.  Allison took me on my very first culinary adventure, with wheat germ in the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (which we both eventually decided wasn’t that great), and then grew up to be a great cook in her own right.

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