Hobbies That Drive Women Wild: Cooking

Submitted by SharpMan Editorial Team on Sunday 10th October 2010
In this article
  • How and where you can learn to cook.
  • How to present your grub like a pro.
  • Tips on cleaning up.

As you know, SharpMan.com periodically polls SharpWomen on which men’s hobbies pique their interest in a guy. What amazes us is that, again and again, the number one response is "cooking." Now, the truth is that we’ve held back on the "Cooking" installment of the Hobbies That Drive Women Wild series because (a) we hoped it wasn’t true, and (b) we didn’t think it sounded all that credible. But alas, it’s a fact. We figure women are biologically programmed to respond to men who exhibit "domestic" skills (the assumption being that they’ll get a companion more likely help them care for the young’ins?). Whatever. All you need to know is that they think cooking is sexy. So check out these SharpMan tips for bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan:

Step One: Learn to Cook.

Learning to cook is a lot easier than you think. For one thing, the casual cook never has to crack a book or pass a quiz, and most information sources involve watching TV, reading magazines or hanging out with your friends and eating. Not exactly a sacrifice. In fact, until recently, it was widely believed that only men had the skills necessary to become top chefs.

But before you open your own Sharp-gang Puck pizza empire, we suggest you familiarize yourself with some of the basic principles of cooking. Begin by checking out one of the many guy-oriented cooking shows on network television or cable stations like Food TV. Some of these shows practically offend women with their testosterone-laden humor and hosts’ antics. One example, called Grillin’ and Chillin’ features two beer-guzzling guys lording over a barbecue (think "live-action Beavis and Butthead") while they pass along gems on the art of cooking (may not be available in all markets).

Another entertaining Food TV he-cook show is Hot Off the Grill with Bobby Flay. Every show features Bobby, "a guy’s guy," hard at work trying to teach his craft to the willing, while Jacqui Malouf, Bobby’s supermodel-quality co-host, plays color announcer. If it weren’t so informative (and if the food didn’t look so good) you’d wonder whether this is a cooking show or Adam Carolla’s "The Man Show."

Then, of course, there’s the Iron Chef (Hut!), a Japanese cooking show-cum-professional wrestling event where the top chefs of Asia battle one another for the title of "Iron Chef" (you know, like "Iron Man") in the "cooking stadium." A must-watch for anyone with a hungry stomach and an appreciation for the absurd, yet hysterical. For all times and channels, see your local channel guide or http://foodtv.com.

More motivated SharpMen should also consider taking a one-time cooking class with a few of their buddies. Aside from the great eats, these classes present an alternative to a long weekend free of social highlights. Also, don’t forget that with classes you can learn to cook and meet women. Consider enrolling in a cooking class at a local community college or other adult education center. These types of classes almost always have more women then men.

And sure, some of the students may be, uh, old, but just imagine the opportunity: you’ll be a hit with the old lady crowd. If you exercise a little of that Sharp etiquette we keep yapping about, you’re likely to win their hearts and the attentions of their matchmaking consortium (plus daughters, granddaughters, nieces, neighbors and cute co-workers). Score.

Step Two: Get Some Gear.

As with any task, things work out best when you have the right tools. Luckily, your new hobby won’t require you to blow your entire couch-cushion piggy bank if you take the time to ask around. Put the word out to extended family and friends that you’re taking up cooking and would appreciate some kitchen gear discards. You’ll be surprised how many people will be happy to donate their extras to your cause. When making your wish list, aim for the following gear:

Nonstick, dishwasher-safe cookware. It’s nice to have pots and pans — particularly if you plan to cook. We recommend products featuring both of the following modern-man-marvels, "nonstick" and "dishwasher-safe." Trust us, your life will be a whole lot easier. Try to get as many types of pots and pans as you can, as most cooking requires more than one type (but no more than 8-10 pieces). For those inclined to buy new stuff, check out Cooking.com’s eight-piece set by T-Fal ($149.95).

Great Knives. There’s nothing more annoying than using a bad set of knives, and nothing more rewarding than slicing stuff up with good ones. The problem with getting great hand-me-down knives is that they’re really expensive on the front end, and typically last forever. This means your family and friends are less likely to hand any over to you and you’ll have to fork over cash for a set of your own. Check out our pick of Wusthof knives (sets of six to ten knives, some with storage blocks for $199-499) to begin your life-long obsession with fine blades.

Cooking Utensils. You’ll also need various spatulas and spoons; buying a set makes it easier. Sets vary wildly in price; but to get you started, buy, beg or borrow an inexpensive set and work up from there. The Good Grips set by Oxo ($14.95) includes a spatula, ladle, spoon and whisk — more than enough to get you going.

Measuring Cups and Spoons. No doubt you’re thinking, "measuring?!?! I’ll only need that for the advanced stuff!" Not so, cowboy. Even simple recipes require precision. Plus, having measuring tools when you start will quickly teach you how to eyeball ingredients — a sign that you’re ready for your own cooking show. While there are different measuring cups for dry versus wet ingredients (don’t ask — the explanation requires a whole article), beginners are safe to start with cups that work on. Cantamount makes a Flameware Liquid and Dry Measuring Cup ($12.95, microwave safe) that works for both kinds of ingredients, only available at Cooking.com. For measuring spoons, check out a stainless steel set by Cuisipro ($9.95, includes the hard to find a 1/8 teaspoon measurement — ooooh!).

Cutting board. Most guys assume the chewed-up built-in cutting board in their rented apartment kitchen is good enough. And it may be — if you like thousand-year-old crud from 10 tenants ago on your food. Also, there’s the issue of needing a non-porous surface on which to cut meats (salmonella, anyone?). For these reasons we recommend splurging on (or better yet, receiving for free) a relatively inexpensive non-porous cutting board. If you don’t want two boards, use different sides of the same one for meats and vegetables. Unless, of course, your plan is to poison the date you’re cooking for. Katchall Industries makes a basic 10x15 white non-porous board ($9.95) — the cheapest insurance you’ll ever buy. .

Mixing bowls. Finally, we recommend another item that may seem extraneous, but can make a big difference when you finally get down to cooking. Many times recipes call for using bowls bigger than the ones you use for cereal or more than one at a time. An inexpensive set is convenient and saves you washing time between cooking steps. Various sizes are useful, and since they are stored "nested" together, they don’t take up any more space in that rat-trap you call a cupboard. Copco makes a nice three-piece set($14.95). .

Step Three: Make It Look Nice.

A lot of the appeal of cooking, from the lady’s perspective, is that you are going to some trouble for her. Maximize on this effort by going to the added effort of setting out attractive (or at least matching) dishes, napkins and non-plastic utensils. Consider investing in a couple of placemats. If you happen to see some, pick up flowers (think man: do you have a vase? If not, get flowers that come in a container) and set them on the table. And remember, ladies think candles = romance, so put a couple of those on the table, too.

Step Four: Clean Up.

A downside to cooking is the mess. And if you don’t know your date very well, we don’t suggest you stick her with the dishes — sort of ruins the romance, know-what-we-mean? Here are some fast clean-up tips:

Keep a Grocery Bag For Cooking Garbage. Prop up one of the bags you brought your supplies home in near your sink or work area. As you open packages and chop vegetables, fill the bag instead of your usual kitchen garbage container (assuming you have one, that is). This way, you can easily carry out all of the smelly cooking-related garbage before your date arrives.

Clean up as you go. While you’re waiting for something to boil, rinse off the last thing you used. If you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher, fill it as you cook and run it before the meal (so it will be ready for dishes from the table). It’s easier to clean as you cook, plus, your kitchen is less likely to look like a complete disaster when you’re done preparing the meal.

Use your exhaust fan. That little fan over the range? It helps keep grease from collecting on all the kitchen surfaces. Turn it on when you’ve got something cooking on the stovetop, even if it means you can’t hear the game in the background.

Soak really dirty stuff before scrubbing. That’s right, guys, just like in the commercials: "Dawn takes grease out of your way." Fill the sink with hot water and soap as soon as you take the cooked food out of the pot or pan. Go watch ESPN SportsCenter. Come back to it when you remember. Rinse. Remember this before you scrub your hands raw.

This article last updated on Sunday 10th October 2010
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