An Interview With The Cooking Channel's Roger Mooking!
Roger's Original Recipes
Parsnip and Pear Soup
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Parmesan Broiled Mushrooms
What or who inspired you to start cooking?
My family. I am now the 3rd generation restaurateur in my family. At 3 years old, I knew I wanted to be a chef and as long as I can remember, I was always hovering around the kitchen trying to learn how to do stuff. Really, I like eating and someone has to cook to eat- might as well be me.
How would you describe your cooking style?
Dynamic. After many years of learning various cooking techniques I have realized that there is no one way to do anything. So my cooking style is constantly evolving. The beauty of cooking is no matter how accomplished you become, there is always something to learn in the most humble of places. It is always a reality check.
What is it about soul food that you love so much?
Soul food to me is about feeding the body and the soul. It is not embodied in one place but is something that everyone can walk around drawing from their own personal history.
You are a musician as well as a chef. How are cooking and making music alike?
For me they are very similar crafts. Writing a song and making a dish are the same process. When writing a song you are thinking about tones, textures, feels, and trying to express an emotion or sentiment. These are exactly the same things I think of when creating a dish. One feeds the body the other feeds the soul.
What is your favorite music to listen to while you cook?
Usually it is the best time for me to work through song ideas. Chopping and cooking is such a part of my body that I just go into auto pilot and enter a new state of mind. It is very much like a meditation. So the songs I end up recording are often started while I'm in the kitchen cooking something. And if I'm not writing a new song, then I put my music on shuffle and it is a broad mix between Sade, The Roots, Paul Simon, Jay Z, Justin Timberlake, Duran Duran, Nora Jones, Biggie, Ray Charles, Justin Nozuka, Gangstarr, and some kids' music that my daughters always manage to sneak into the mix.
What is your go-to weeknight meal?
I rarely cook the same thing twice because life is too short. I'm always experimenting with new techniques and flavors in hopes of stumbling across some new revelation. If I had to pick one thing, I would say soup of any kind. I am addicted to soup and would eat it for every meal of everyday if my wife wouldn’t divorce me for doing it.
What was your biggest cooking disaster?
Working in a busy restaurant when the basement kitchen flooded and we had to finish service while scooping buckets of water and with rolled up pants. The diners didn’t know - so the cooking wasn’t actually a disaster but the experience was.
What is the strangest ingredient you have ever worked with?
I suppose strange is a relative word but perhaps people may find cooking with pig tail strange, but what about cow tongue?
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start cooking soul food?
Cook the way you grew up eating and slowly start putting your own spin on it. THAT is Soul Food. Food from YOUR soul.
Tell us a bit about your show, “Everyday Exotic.”
I like to think that my show inspires people to break out of a rut. We all want to be in a relationship where every day is like the first date. We should be having a first date with our food every meal as well.
I focus on one “Obedient Ingredient” every episode and teach you how to shop for it, what to look for, where you can possibly find it, how to store it and then bring it back to my kitchen to cook it several different ways using everyday staple meals as the basis. So I will make 5 Spice Lamb Burgers, Cilantro Meatloaf, or Curry Macaroni and Cheese.
Watch Roger cook up a storm every Saturday at 1:30pm Eastern Time! To learn more about his show, visit the Cooking Channel website.