Rusty Robbins learned a lot of things in college, including his way around a kitchen.
“I wasn’t a good cook until I went to Southeastern (Louisiana University) for school,” Robbins said. “I got there and discovered I didn’t like the fare my roommates and I were putting on the table. It was not what I was used to with my mom and my grandmother.”
On a weekend trip home to New Orleans, Robbins consulted his mom’s recipe box, and brought some index cards with copies of the recipes back to Hammond.
“I’d call, even collect calls sometimes, when I got stuck on a recipe,” the Baton Rouge father of two recalled of his pre-smartphone days.
He became the cook of the bunch, the meals improved, and he got out of doing dishes. Robbins graduated from SLU in communications in 1994.
“Now when I go to restaurants and I get something I like, I try to recreate it at home the best I can,” he said.
Robbins, 45, will be one of several single parents cooking with chef Jeff Henderson on “Flip My Food” on Monday. The show focuses on making dishes healthier without sacrificing flavor.
After learning the syndicated cooking show was looking for single parents — he’s father to Tyler, 15, and Abigail, 13 — Robbins said he sent in a brief iPhone audition video, was selected and taped the episode a few months ago in New Orleans.
“I had seen chef Jeff previously on some of his other shows on the Food Network, so I knew who he was, so it was kind of neat to meet him in person,” Robbins said.
Used to creating Louisiana gumbos, jambalayas and the like, Robbins’ task on the “$10 Dinner” episode was a bit simpler — assisting Henderson on a deconstructed turkey burger.
Back home, Robbins, business development manager at industrial contractor Topcor, said he has tried the new recipe on the kids.
“It was a win.”