STACKHOUSE'S essential skills--hand-eye coordination, timing, an ability to
perform under pressure; we're talking cooking skills here--were honed at Surf
& Turf, the soul food joint in Kinston, N.C., where his mother, Minnie,
worked long hours as a cook to support her 11 children. When Jerry, the
youngest, turned 15, he began working at the restaurant as a dishwasher but was
soon promoted to hush-puppy fryer. "Hush puppies are an art form," says
Stackhouse of the cornmeal dumplings. "You have to make sure not to
overcook them, make sure the dough is just right. I was able to watch
everything that went on in that kitchen from the prep station to the grill and
then apply it at home."
31, is the Bobby Flay of the NBA. When his team is not on the road, he does
almost all the cooking for his family--his wife, Ramirra, and their kids
Alexis, 6, and Antonio, 4. Ramirra, Stackhouse says, "makes a great fried
chicken, but she doesn't have an innate love for [cooking] like I do." The
6'6" 218-pounder has enrolled both kids in a once-a-week cooking class in
Dallas. Last summer he got behind his charcoal grill and had the team over for
a barbecue at which he served beef ribs that he marinated overnight in malt
liquor ("for tenderness"). And back in 2002 Stack prepared a fried
shrimp dish on the Food Network's NBA Caf� hosted by Flay, who has called
Stackhouse one of the best cooks in the league. "I can hold my own with my
shrimp," says Stackhouse, who likes to shop for his ingredients himself,
"but I have to admit what I am--a professional athlete with a penchant for
And for eating.
Stackhouse, who consumes he-man-sized portions, shared a recipe with SI PLAYERS
for one of his signature dishes: It calls for three pounds of shrimp and, he
says, serves four. "Deep-fried shrimp used to be my favorite," he says.
"But I'm trying to be healthy now."