I cook because I want my daughters to experience home cooking while not just having a cycle of burgers, grilled cheese and fried rice. – Rob
What’s better than a home-cooked meal prepared lovingly and with care? Sharing that home-cooked meal with loved ones, of course! When Kitchen Hero Rob took up cooking, he discovered the joys of sharing homemade food with friends and family. Now whether he is cooking new dinners for his daughters to enjoy or BBQ-ing pork shoulders for a big group, sharing these moments over plates of delicious home cooking is a fun and fulfilling bonding experience. Read more about Rob’s Hero in the Kitchen story below.
Names: Rob Ward
City, State: New York, New York
I cook for: my wife and two daughters. In the summer I enjoy barbecuing with my extended family.
Outside of the kitchen I: am a teacher who enjoys lifting weights, traveling and playing guitar.
My all-time favorite snack: Iced coffee has become my life here in NYC. Add a little agave and vanilla and I am set for the day.
I cook because: I want my daughters to experience home cooking while not just having a cycle of burgers, grilled cheese and fried rice. I love trying out new recipes and using ingredients I have never thought of before. The first time I made the sweet and sour sauce, it blew my mind that I was able to combine a few ingredients and make something I had only tasted in a restaurant.
Favorite Cook Smarts meal so far: When I was cooking for a big group this summer, I did not hesitate to bring out the Classic Tacos. The combination of the meat and spices blew my mind the first time I had it.
HOW DID YOU LEARN TO COOK?
When my wife and I got married we moved from a hip part of the Twin Cities to the a town on the Canadian border. When your choices for going out to eat is pared down to two restaurants that both specialize in deep-fried items, we were forced to learn how to use all the kitchen implements we had been given as wedding gifts.
After a bit of practice we found we enjoyed having people over and using burgers or chili as an excuse to get together with friends. Now that I moved to New York City, cooking has been a great way to save a little money and it remains our go-to activity if we want to hang out with friends.
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST COOKING CHALLENGE?
Accommodating my two girls. They are picky eaters and if it isn’t rice and chicken or hamburgers loaded with ketchup they are skeptical at best. I have had some success getting them to buy into the soups and rice dishes with Cook Smarts, but we are still working on trying new things.
How has your cooking routine changed since starting Cook Smarts’ meal plans?
I have gotten more into mise en place and cleaning up during the dinner. When it is time for me to make dinner, I love having all my ingredients out in front of me, pre-measured, in little bowls. Being able to just dump in the spices and chopped basil not only makes me feel like a real chef, I also get done faster and I don’t have to rush to the store mid-recipe to pick up that one item.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR PROUDEST KITCHEN MOMENT.
My proudest moment is anytime anyone is eating something I made and they ask me about how I made it. I enjoy any dinner that takes a long cooking time to make and can feed a large number of people. This summer I BBQ’d a number of pork shoulders and each time I got compliments and questions about the rub and my cooking method. I love having neighbors come over and talk because they see the smoker going and they are wondering what is inside this time!
WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR HEALTH AND SUCCESS IN THE KITCHEN?
Get a good meat thermometer and learn to love miso paste.
Yes! A meat thermometer and miso paste are must-haves! 😉 Thank you so much for sharing your cooking story with us, Rob, and for letting us have a place in your kitchen. We can definitely feel all the joy you have for cooking, and we love being a part of it in some way! Also, kudos to you for not giving up on the kiddos and encouraging them to try new dishes. Small steps can go a long way!