Sam The Cooking Guy – Boils Along

How does one of the most common ordinary people among us become a star, now illuminating into super nova?

The answer appears to be, by just being one of us.

Barnes & Noble’s Mesa-Scripps Ranch store was packed with hundreds of fans last night. They came to see Sam The Cooking Guy or who we might now term a best-selling book author, winner of 11 TV Emmys, or just “Sam The Man.” His latest accomplishment titled “Sam The Cooking Guy – Awesome Recipes & Kitchen Shortcuts” by publisher Wiley is selling like those proverbial hot cakes.

The first TV show I ever saw of Sam’s, he accidently dropped a fresh egg, and left it there, went right on preparing a dish of food. It was definitely a surprising change from Rachel Ray who has everything perfect all the time. Not one of the Food Channel’s Chefs would ever do that.

Sam Zien
alt=”Sam Zien

Bobbie Flay? Not a chance. I watched Sam with hypnotic wonder both at his cool and if Martha Stewart saw it and was having a break down over broken egg not only on the kitchen floor, on Camera on the kitchen floor.

The Red Kitchen

Kitchen floors might explain Sam’s unflustered attitude. He started out in adult life thinking he would be a cooking king with, “No fancy equipment, and by speaking English instead of ‘chef-speak,’ a sort of everyman of television cooking.” Ten years later he’s doing the same thing, shooting the popular show at his house – cooking with his kids, dogs and sometimes the neighbors.

Initially Sam planned to do a travel type show, food with “A big in taste and small in effort’. Just a few ingredients and a few steps – that’s it. Sam termed it, “the cooking show for the rest of us,”

Kelly Zien
alt=”Kelly Zien

Rough Start

Before hitting the big time, bigger trouble set in. His idea of “Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous.” for the avenge guy required a home kitchen upgrade so he’d appear average. So without any culinary training or television experience he made a demo and sent it to a handful of industry ‘experts’, then waited for their opinion. It went something like, “You don’t have a @#$%+ chance,” and “You don’t know what you’re doing,” and “Get a better kitchen.”

Angered, Sam and wife Kelly contracted for a remodel job, something snazzy the public would like to see. Sam’s contractor went broke, left a mess, with all Sam’s finances.

These are the times we find out what we’re made of. Sam contacted a local home fixer upper businesses and put together a piece at a time, over time, a reasonable looking kitchen.

Never Slow Down

Without breaking stride Sam kept his future goals intact by offering what ever he could to San Diego citizens if they’d let him come to their home and film a show of him cooking there.

Sam Zien
alt=”Sam Zien

Wife Kelly as you might imagine is equally amazing. Sitting on the bookstore floor with fans waiting in long lines to get their copy of Sam’s latest book autographed, I asked the unpretentious Kelly, “Did you ever anticipate Sam becoming this popular?”

Her gaze had a foggy look of amazement to it, usually reserved for a “Deer in the headlights.” Then a soft smile came to her lovely face as she uttered, “Not really……”

Sam’s track record for being a can-do cooking guy has undoubtedly seasoned her during their 25 year marriage, not to be too surprised at whatever attempts at success Sam turns his attention to.

Claudia Strasbaugh was a freelance writer who founded Scripps Ranch/Mira Mesa Writer’s Guild, was head writer for the weekly TV show “Kill ‘EM With Comedy,” plus California Bureau Chief for National Lotto World Magazine. Claudia also ran a nonprofit called Dinner On A Dollar. Sadly, Claudia passed away in 2015, but we are pleased to display her writing works.