LIMA — Todd States has been cooking all his life, taught by his father.
His dad was the cook of the big family, and States took after him. Raised in Lima, States returned here after serving in the Army. He had been working at Ford Motor Co. Lima Engine Plant but fell ill. A friend of the family owned the Roxy, the restaurant/bar in downtown Lima that closed about five years ago. The friend convinced him to handle the kitchen at the place, and States took the opportunity.
“I just loved it,” he said. “Set my own menu. I’ve always been a cook, and I needed to make a living.”
Over the years, States has worked on his own versions of potato soup — he shares a recipe today on that subject — smoked meats and Cajun foods. One of his favorites is coming up with variations on big, juicy cheeseburgers like his pepperjack-bacon-ranch burger. (If you’re dieting this time of year, I apologize for putting that thought in your head.)
Now, States is manager at the Golden Corral and he’s met with a new set of challenges. His dad’s tips on pleasing a big crowd have to come in handy when he has 362 items to prepare daily. The restaurant has the capacity to serve up to 5,000 people every day.
He warns young people that being a chef or cook has its downsides, but the personal satisfaction of serving someone a meal they love is very rewarding. He recommends cooking for others before you cook for yourself.
“Cooking for people, you put your heart in it,” States said. “If you do it with a passion, everybody’s going to love it.”
And although making a career of food is hard work, States said it’s gratifying.
“I love it. It’s what I want to do. It’s my passion. I’ll be doing this the rest of my life,” he said.
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