Sam Zien, better known as “Sam the Cooking Guy,” came to San Diego on Nov 16 and spoke at the Jewish Community Center. The talk covered his life, his background, his experience being on television, and how he reached his current level of success.

At first, he explain was very unsure of his life path, “I never knew what I wanted to do.” As a result, he followed in the footsteps of his older brother, picked the same major and went to the same school.  After graduating, he found himself working at a job he hated, and knew he wanted to change careers.

It was only later in life when Sam found his love for cooking. One day, he was sitting on his couch at home flipping channels on his TV when he saw chefs cooking for just a few minutes every morning. This motivated him to consider cooking for entertainment. With no TV experience, and very little knowledge on cooking, he figured he’d just start off with something easy, adopting the motto, “If I can make it, everyone can make it.” Sam wanted to cook things that other people would also be able to learn quickly and cook themselves. Soon after getting the idea, he made a demo tape and sent it out to five experts in the business. “Not one liked it,” he said. As a result, he sent it to local San Diego stations, and finally his demo landed in the right hands. The show first started off by being as a segment a few minutes long that was played twice a week. Eventually, it grew into a half hour episode.

Since then, Sam has experienced an incredibly high level of success with the format. He’s won 12 Emmys, produced three books, and his show has become a national series on Discovery’s Health channel.

Make sure to check out what Sam is doing at You can also watch him locally on San Diego’s channel 4.

The writer with Sam the Cooking Guy: courtesy of Maya Lifton