One of the keys to #SimplyBetter living is to find a passion and explore it. For me, a few of my passions were not even on my radar screen prior to them taking hold.
A pair of scenarios in 1996, when I was 32 years old, led me to a passion for cooking/food.
The first scenario was that my future ex-wife’s daughter came to live with us. Nicole was probably pre-teen when she moved in with us; about all I was told was that she loved watching The Food Network.
We got in the habit of watching that channel during the evening; the flagship show was “Emeril Live”. Chef Emeril Lagasse hosted a very lively show in front of a studio audience.
Lagasse was, and remains, engaging, entertaining and at times downright funny. His passion for food/cooking was infectious; and I was certainly catching the cooking bug watching his program.
Previously I always loved the “consumption side” of food, this show was hooking me on the preparation side. Emeril cooked AND he had fun!
During this same time, we were renting a home in Concord, N.C. from a guy named Gene Lambert. As we got acclimated to our friendly new town people would ask where I lived. I would describe the street and mention renting from a guy named Gene Lambert. Multiple times that would be acknowledged with “Gene Lambert makes the best barbecue in Concord”.
I asked Gene about it; he was humble but described to me the incredible North Carolina tradition of pulled pork barbecue. Behind his garage he had a huge “pit” made of cinder block, grates, different compartments; beside it was a large pile of hickory wood.
Pork barbecue is a big Thanksgiving tradition in that area and starting on Monday people would be dropping off shoulders and Boston Butts that Gene would convert into the “best barbecue in Concord”.
I asked Gene if he would teach me a bit about barbecue; and soon I started learning from the master. He had a 55-gallon drum burn barrel, as well as a 55-gallon drum grill and we spent quite a few fantastic Saturday’s with Gene teaching me the art of barbecue.
Gene was a racing fan; I worked in NASCAR. We would talk, consume beverages, and cook. After hours of fellowship and stories we had created the most incredible barbecue. The food was great, the friendship and fellowship even better.
Those moments in 1996 stoked something inside me that I previously was not aware of, the love of cooking and all aspects of food. It has turned into a huge part of my life from time at home, to exploring as I travel. Every meal, every trip to the store, every restaurant and city is a new and exciting adventure.
Passions are important when finding balance and that #SimplyBetter life.
I blame (and am forever grateful for) two very-different – but both passionate – men: Emeril Lagasse and Gene Lambert for showing me one of mine.
Steve Post is a broadcaster, public speaker, emcee and voice-talent.