Traveling cooking show comes to BG

Eating healthy on a low budget may sound tasteless, but Kevin Roberts showed students tasty possibilities through his traveling cooking show, “Cook or Starve,” last night in the Union.

Roberts began cooking at 8 years old, despite an explosion from a leaky gas stove. He didn’t understand why there was a strange smell or why his frozen dinner was still cold after being in the oven for half an hour.

“Me being a cave boy, I lit a match and singed every hair on my body,” Roberts said.

He didn’t have the choice to quit cooking, despite his accident.

“Survival, otherwise I’d be starving to death – purely survival,” he said.

Roberts’ mother worked and went to college full-time, and he was left cook for himself in the evenings.

“I had nothing when I was growing up. I had to learn how to cook and there was no food network or google,” Roberts said.

Based on the recipes in his cookbook, “Munchies,” Roberts showed his talents for creating “cheap, simple, tasty and healthy” meals, modeling the motto of his cooking style last night at his show. Aimed at young adults just learning to cook, most of Roberts’ collection of recipes have under eight steps.

Roberts entertained and interacted with the audience by asking them to name the top five best and worst foods for them. While audience members named what they thought are the worst foods, Roberts gave students information on why the food was unhealthy and what healthier options are available.

Soda was number one on the worst top five. Roberts demonstrated the amount of sugar in a 20-ounce bottle of pop by spooning 12 heaping spoonfuls of sugar into a clear glass next to the bottle. As a healthy alternative, he passed out bottles of Gatorade Propel to students.

A free buffet of healthy munchies available to audience members started off the show, which included items such as yogurt, graham crackers, fruits, vegetables and more. Roberts also passed out samples of his creations as he made them during the show.

His show presents his motives for “back-door teaching,” or the desire to inform people about being healthy, without standing in front of a class lecturing, he said.

“My mom’s an inner city teacher and it’s intrinsically in me,” he said is the reason he has a traveling cooking show. “People have got to eat healthier.”

The cooking show was sponsored by University Activities Organization. Da’Vina Ellens, member of UAO, first saw him at the National Association of Campus Activities.

“He had high energy, talked about healthy eating and was really entertaining,” Ellens said.

Adam McCready, graduate adviser for UAO, said Roberts creations go beyond microwave cuisine.

“It’s based on interesting and healthy meals that’s easy for college students to make,” McCready said.

The cookbook features single and multiple serving recipes and the basics of cooking, such as the proper way to prepare and cook food.

Roberts also gave advice during the show on food preparation, such as to wash all foods first, even raw meats and fish, and how to cut foods without risking severed fingers.

His tips for healthier eating included what sugar-free can really mean. Roberts describes this as a “loophole with the FDA,” that ingredients such as sucrose and fructose can be in sugar-free items, but are essentially still sugary ingredients.

Roberts has been featured in Men’s Fitness magazine, on ESPN’s Cold Pizza and has cooked for the cast of The Bernie Mac Show, which included Snoop Dogg. His cookbook is available at the University Bookstore.