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Home kitchens heat up as more men start cooking

It’s the stuff hungry ladies’ dreams are made of: More and more guys in the kitchen, cooking, and loving it.

“Guys are cooking more than ever before at home,” says Richard Martin, the editor of Food Republic, a new food site for men. “And typically, the way they find recipes and conversation about food as a lifestyle is to just search for it. There’s not really any one place where they can find all that content — recipes, conversation about food, lifestyle, cocktails — in an easy-to-use setting.”

So Martin teamed up with celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson to create that place. Food Republic, which launched two weeks ago, features stories about man-friendly topics such as how to cook a rib-eye steak or make a Rob Roy cocktail — and will cover areas from food-related politics to kitchen gadgets.

Because if there’s anything every man is obsessed with, it’s gadgets. “In the ’50s, the women’s place was in the kitchen, and men were out with tools. Now, the tools are in the kitchen,” says Martin. “Guys are playing with immersion blenders and micro zesters.”

“The kitchen is the new garage,” Samuelsson added. “Traditional gender roles have been turned upside down, and now being a well-rounded man means knowing about food, too.”

They’re on to something, for sure. Men today have tripled the amount of time in the kitchen as they did in 1970, and, citing the current economy as the reason, The Food Channel predicted that more men cooking would be a 2011 trend.

Last month “Diamond Dishes,” a cookbook of recipes from baseball stars (including Alex Rodriguez, who is pictured clutching two leaves of kale), hit shelves. The author, Julia Loria, wife of Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, believes things are equalizing (“more men are cooking and more women are watching baseball,” she told the New York Post) and so wanted a product that reaches both.

There's also the website Man which features grilling tips and recipes for all types of meaty, greasy goodness.

Kelly Ann Hargrove, recreational program director for the Institute of Culinary Education in New York, recently told the Post that there’s been a “pretty big leap” in the number of young men taking cooking classes. The number of male students has increased to 32 percent, up from 20 percent just two years ago.

Martin sees the men-in-the-kitchen trend as a cultural shift from generations past. “A lot of guys we’ve spoken to learned to cook from their mothers and grandmothers; their fathers only cooked outside on grill,” he says. “Now, more guys are interested in cooking at home — especially healthy cooking and the politics of food.”

Why the shift now? Reasons range from the influence of popular shows like “Top Chef” and changing family dynamics to single guys needing to fend for themselves and, of course, their need to impress the ladies.

“The modern family is completely different than it used to be,” Samuelsson said. “You might have a guy who’s just by himself, or he’s cooking for his kids when he has them on the weekends, or he might just want to cook a nice meal for his girl.”Well, that’s putting it politely. Los Angeles-based chef Spencer Walker recently wrote a cookbook for men entitled “Cook to Bang.” “Food and sex have been linked since the dawn of civilization,” he writes on his website. “This has been lost on the modern dating population willing to blow half our paycheck only to end up with a doggy bag... Culinary skills are as essential to the art of seduction as a brush and easel are for a painter.”That's why Food Republic’s editors are keeping women in mind, too, by giving guys date-night dinner recipes.

“Relationships are growing stronger as they cook alongside their mate,” Martin said.

We asked TODAY.com readers to send in images and stories of men who cook, and judging by the way women swooned, that is certainly the case.

“Once a month, three couples get together at one of our homes for an over-the-top, cook ’til you drop dinner party,” said Stephanie Oneal of St. Louis, Mo. “The men cook while the women help out and socialize … They have been the most memorable nights of our relationship!”

“My husband Todd is an amazing cook — he loves to experiment and throws things together without recipes all the time,” gushes Eve Sheridan of Brighton, Colo. “He’ll randomly whip up things like gourmet red wine and onion reduction sauce for steaks, banana french toast stuffed with white chocolate ganache ...”For the man who’s just getting in on home cooking, Food Republic offers recipes that are fast and easy to execute, using seven ingredients and taking just 20 minutes — leaving plenty of time for cocktail-making.

Samuelsson says it’s all just part of the evolution of the modern man. “Twenty years ago, men weren’t supposed to know about style — but now it’s a must. In that same way, a man now needs to know what knife to use, what wine to order when he’s on a date, and how to put a dish together.”

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