Meet Alan, who enjoys cooking for his wife and her Wii-playing friends

Essence.com
Dec, 16, 2009

Welcome back to our weekly feature highlighting brothers who throw down in the kitchen. Meet Alan, who enjoys cooking for his wife and her Wii-playing friends.

Missed one? Catch up on all the interviews and recipes of our featured chefs in our Men Who Cook Roundup »

Name: Alan Jennings
Occupation: Retired
Age: 56
City: Lakeview, New York

ESSENCE.COM: So how did you get your start in the kitchen?
ALAN JENNINGS:
 I learned to cook while watching my mother in the kitchen. When the weekly chores were assigned one of my older sisters would swap with me when it came to cooking a meal. I didn't mind because doing the dishes, mopping and waxing the kitchen and bathroom floors was not what I wanted to do. Besides I still had to take the clothes to the laundry on Saturday morning. After struggling with a few failures, burnt fried chicken, overcooked shrimp scampi , I realized that I could cook! This was a skill that I would use for the rest of my life.

ESSENCE.COM: So what is one of your favorite cooking memories?
JENNINGS:  I usually cook for my wife's friends when they come to the house to play Wii. They usually start with small talk in the living room with their favorite champagne while I set up the Wii game in the basement. Even though they're all beautiful mature women, they're some of the most competitive women I know. They like to win and love to knock each other out while boxing. When they've finally had enough, my wife Karen calls out "Honey We're Hungry". They all laugh - but it's such a pleasure to know that I'm the Man when it comes to the kitchen.

ESSENCE.COM: That's great. Now, have you had any cooking mistakes that have taught you a lesson?
JENNINGS: Well, when I got married, my wife Karen and I had different shifts. I worked days and she worked evenings and nights. I would pick up our sons from daycare and prepare the evening meal. It was during this time that I experienced one of my biggest kitchen failures. I had gotten a recipe for meat loaf from a relative and I decided to do something a "little different" with it, so I added some cayenne pepper. When we sat down to eat both boys could not finish one bite and the meat had to be thrown out. My lesson learned: when trying something new taste before serving.

ESSENCE.COM: Definitely. And what is your signature recipe and what do you love most about cooking?
JENNINGS:There are many reasons that I enjoy cooking. Yes it does impress the ladies when you can throw down, but for me cooking for my family and friends has given me an outlet for sharing a part of my life with them. I don't know if I have a signature dish but I do have a dish that is easy to prepare and it's also delicious. It's cayenne-rubbed chicken with avocado salsa.

Try his signature dish here, cayenne-rubbed chicken with avocado salsa »

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