ABOVE: Wolfe prepares his “bang bang” chicken for a baseball teammate. Though Wolfe is at SC for baseball, cooking is another great passion of his. (Chris Campbell/Staff photographer).
By Chris Campbell
Cody Wolfe, business junior, can be found devoting the majority of his time to baseball-related activities. Wolfe has come to Southwestern in an effort to help revive the baseball program after a 67-year hiatus.
However, there’s far more than meets the eye when it comes to Wolfe’s skills off the field. In fact, you may very well find him in his second natural element – the kitchen.
“It all started at a young age for me,” said Wolfe.
Every great cook was once an apprentice in need of an expert, and Wolfe didn’t have to look far for his role model.
“I would always watch my dad cook dinner every night. I would always ask him questions just trying to learn from him,” said Wolfe. “My childhood revolved around family and baseball. I would go to school, baseball practice and then I would come home and talk with my family about the day while we were in the kitchen watching my father cook dinner.”
Cooking was a hobby that eventually developed into a full-fledged passion for Wolfe.
“Cooking is fun to me because it reminds me of a science experiment,” said Wolfe. “If you follow the instructions, you can create something amazing.”
Wolfe is not the type to brag, but he speaks highly of his homemade Cajun chicken pasta, which happens to be his signature dish.
“Right now, my personal favorite dish to cook is my Cajun chicken pasta, which consists of chicken prepared in Cajun seasoning pan seared for about ten minutes then added to chopped bell peppers and mushrooms, all over linguine pasta,” said Wolfe. “I’ve managed to make the flavors all blend together, which makes the food taste great.”
Wolfe makes it sound quite simple, but the process is admittedly a bit more complex than one might assume.
“First, you need to boil some water and put however much linguine pasta you want in the container once it comes to a boil. You apply Cajun seasoning to cut pieces of chicken while you melt a tablespoon of butter in a pan,” said Wolfe. “While that is getting hot you chop up three bell peppers without seeds. I usually dice up some green onion tips to throw in there for flavor. Once the pan is hot, you place the chicken on the pan and continue to move them around for five to seven minutes – but never let the chicken sit too long, because that is when you begin to get that burnt or over-cooked taste that nobody enjoys.”
Wolfe has mastered the art and purpose of preparing a variety of dishes in recent years, but he is also quick to admit his flaws. He encourages other individuals to never shy away from failure because it is inevitable in the process of improving any craft.
“When I first started I was so bad. I was burning everything and getting frustrated because I wanted to be successful,” said Wolfe.
But every moment in which one fails is one moment closer to a breakthrough, and, for Wolfe, his patience paid off in due time.
“Then it just clicked for me. I began to just simply have fun with what I was cooking, but remained serious with the work as well,” said Wolfe. “There is almost a guarantee that if you were to walk in on me cooking, I am dancing and singing to loud music, just trying to remain comfortable in a potentially stressful environment.”
The key for Wolfe was to combine balance and fun simultaneously. “I think so many people have challenges with cooking largely because they are scared to mess up the food or are afraid to waste the ingredients,” said Wolfe. “Personally, it’s so important to remain calm and accept the challenge, because anybody can make great food if they are determined to accomplish it.”
The native of Owasso, Okla., grew up with food as a means to express creativity and culture. “In my opinion, there is no place like it. It’s just a town that loves everybody and drinks plenty of sweet tea,” said Wolfe. “Surrounding myself with great people in a fast growing community has inspired me to be the best person that I can be.”
That sense of family has inspired Wolfe to perfect his family’s very own distinctive recipe.
“It’s called ‘bang bang’ chicken, which takes almost an hour to create,” said Wolfe. “It is chicken battered and fried with panko crumbs over a bed of rice, and then you drizzle the “bang bang” sauce over it. The sauce consists of sweet chili sauce, mayonnaise and honey.”
Such a combination of ingredients may cause others to be skeptical, but Wolfe thinks otherwise. “Yes, at first it doesn’t sound appealing, but when blended together correctly, it will rock your taste buds, which is why we dubbed it our “bang bang” sauce.”
With that being said, there is so much more to cooking than simply using it is as a means for survival. Wolfe lives by a notion that sticks with him wherever he goes.
“Food is just something that everybody loves. It can bring anyone together. You can have the taste of any culture in your own kitchen if prepared correctly. To me, that’s something that is pretty cool.”
Wolfe believes that following your heart will lead to the ultimate pursuit of happiness. “You don’t need money to be happy. As long as your soul is happy, you can consider life well spent.”
Chris Campbell is a junior majoring in communication. You may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally published in Volume 130’s 3rd edition of The Collegian. To see past Collegian archives click the following link: http://scupdate.org/collegian-archives/