I am a retired Aerospace Senior Manager. Cooking has always been my passion. I started really cooking while attending college after discharge from the Army. My wife worked; I went to school on the GI Bill and began doing much of the cooking. Over the years I have exploited various ethnic cuisines. I have also become passionate about smoking food. I like the aspect of pleasing family and others with something I created in the Kitchen. Though I have taken classes at the CCA in SF I can't afford the full tutition and they have stopped offering weekend classes for the enthusiast. I became a bit of a cookbook junkie for a number of years before the Internet made recipes so easy to get and find.
My Mother. Though she wasn't a great cook she provided wholesome and tasty food for the family that was suited to a tight budget. My parents also exposed my brother and me to all sorts of Ethnic food which broadened the eating experience and made me anxious to try anything new.
My great aunt ;"Aunt Mae." Being from Germany she cooked from scratch and from dawn until dusk. For her it was her job to feed the family; make sure no one went away hungry and provide three meals a day for those doing the work in a small Nebraska farm town. She baked bread from scratch EVERY day. She butchered her own poultry and pork. She had a garden that covered at least a quarter acre with crops for all seasons. She canned huge amounts of vegetables and fruits annually. Most importantly she had a heart of gold and a smile that was captivating.
As for professionsl influences I would pick Jacques Pepin. A craftsman and a technician that creates amazing foods with simple ingredients and flawless technique. Watching him make an omlet is inspiring.