COOK OF THE WEEK: World traveler likes to experiment with different cuisines

TUPELO – Even though Jeff Green enjoys cooking in his own kitchen, he eats out fairly often – for inspiration.
Green is one of those people who can go to a restaurant and taste a dish and then go home and duplicate it.
“As early as high school, I can remember doing this,” said Green, 49, of west Tupelo. “Many, many times, I’ve asked about a dish and had the chef take me back in the kitchen to make it for me.”
Green really came to appreciate the different cuisines of the world when he worked for Federal Express in Memphis the first time. (He’s now on his second tour of duty with the company, serving as a business systems adviser.)
“I’ve been all over the world with FedEx,” he said. “I’ve been to all parts of Asia. I’d spend three to four months a year in Europe. All you do is work and eat. I was constantly trying new foods. I really found a lot of food that I like. That’s when I really started experimenting.”
Today, Green cooks just about every day for his wife, Lee County Coroner Carolyn Gillentine, and two of the four children they share. In the summer, they like grilled foods; in the winter, they turn more to comfort foods, like spaghetti and lasagna.
A family favorite is grilled pork tenderloin, garlic mashed potatoes and sautéed asparagus; another is seafood pasta, salad and bread.
“I like to have something green at every meal,” he said. “Sometimes, we’ll have a green vegetable and a green salad. I love pasta, potatoes and bread, but they make me gain weight.”

‘No’ to cookbooks
Green rarely uses cookbooks for inspiration.
“I had this cookbook that told me how to make sauces – remoulade, bernaise, hollandaise, bechamel, mayonnaise. Once I learned those, I threw the cookbook away. I don’t need it anymore.”
Instead, he watches Bobby Flay and Paula Deen on the Food Network. He’s also fond of the Iron Chef competitions.
“They’re totally off the cuff,” he said. “You just have to work with what they give you.”
Green can often go to his pantry and just pull out ingredients for a spectacular dish. His experimentation has gotten him rave reviews.
“I was bragging on my grandmother’s potato salad one day and he said, ‘I bet I’ve got one that will beat your grandmama’s,’” said Gillentine. “And it did. He does 99 percent of the cooking now in this house. I can cook, but I don’t have to anymore.”

Do you know a good cook? Send your nominations to Ginna Parsons, Cook of the Week, P.O. Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or you can fax them to (662) 842-2233 or e-mail them to ginna.parsons@ djournal.com.

Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal