Home cook gets incredible anniversary trip to Italy’s kitchens

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com Robert Skelton never has any complaints when he makes his Stuffed Jalapeños for co-workers at Philips in Tupelo.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Robert Skelton never has any complaints when he makes his Stuffed Jalapeños for co-workers at Philips in Tupelo.

By Ginna Parsons

Daily Journal

TUPELO – When Robert Skelton was a little boy living in Amory, he used to pretend he had his own cooking show on television.

“I was about 11, so this was long before the Food Network,” said Skelton, 40. “The only cooking shows on were the Cajun guy Justin Wilson and maybe an old Julia Child.”

In Skelton’s mother’s kitchen, he would take her leftovers and try to create masterpieces.

“I was acting out my own cooking show called ‘Cooking with Po’Boy,” he said.

“It was all in my mind. I’d take biscuits and roll them out and fill them with taco meat and call it Taco Pie.”

Skelton kept on cooking and when he got to college at Ole Miss, he was the roommate who prepared all the meals.

After he and his wife, Angie, married almost 15 years ago, he took the lead role in the weekend cooking.

“Angie cooks out of necessity – she cooks to feed the family and keep us alive,” he said. “I’m the show-off cook. I like to cook for groups. If there’s more than just us eating, I’m cooking.”

The father of two girls – Chloe and Mia – enjoys cooking so much that for their 10th wedding anniversary, Angie gave him an incredible gift.

“I got to go to Italy and work with different chefs in their restaurants for a week,” said Skelton, who lives in Sherman. “That really got my eyes opened to cooking with seasonal ingredients. All the restaurants there used seasonal ingredients and it was just starting to come into fashion here at that time.”

He learned how to make pasta from scratch, how to use potato and pasta water as a thickening agent and how to plan ahead when cooking for a large group.

“I saw that you don’t have to make everything at the last minute,” said Skelton, the Technical Service Center lead at Philips, formerly Day-Brite, in Tupelo. “There are things you can make ahead and reheat and they’re OK and there are some things that don’t work that way.”

He still remembers the first Roma tomato he tasted in Italy.

“It was amazing,” he said. He was so inspired, he came home and immediately planted his own tomato and pepper plants.

Skelton said he tries to be open-minded about food.

“They say your tastes change every seven years,” he said. “So about every seven years, I try to eat liver, but I still don’t like it. But our daughter, Chloe, is a blessing. She’ll try anything and everything. She’s the only 7-year-old I know that will eat salsa that’s too hot even for me to eat.”

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 email them to ginna.parsons@journalinc.com.