The Hungry Professor: Chef Cowan

Interview by Jenna Meltzer

Juggling a Ph.D. program in digital rhetoric and teaching a writing class at UT leaves professor Jake Cowan hardly any time for himself. But he makes sure to leave time for his cats, his girlfriend Maggie and most importantly — food.

Photo courtesy of Jake Cowan

Here’s what the 28-year-old professor has to say about his favorite restaurants in Austin, his love for ice cream, and his cooking experiences.

ORANGE: If you had one day left to live, where would you eat in Austin?

COWAN: I would eat the whole day long. I’d start with breakfast at Habanero Mexican Café. They have the most amazing breakfast tacos. I would order the egg, potato and cheese breakfast tacos and a lot of coffee. For lunch, I’d go to Hopdoddy. I would order the El Diablo. I’m a vegetarian, so I’d order the veggie burger instead. I would also get a full set of the truffle fries and the Nutella milkshake. For dinner, I’d begin at East Side Showroom and enjoy a fine old-fashioned cocktail. From there I’d have someone else drive me to Kome [Sushi]. I’d order 6 rolls and have as much as I could. I’d top that off with Lick for ice cream.

O: Which do you prefer: Dining out or eating in?

C: Eating out because it’s more adventuresome. You can try ingredients that you would never be able to prepare at home because you can’t get them in bulk. Maggie and I are both adventurous eaters. I may be pescetarian, but I’ll eat any meat I haven’t tried before.

O: What made you become a pescetarian?

C: I have to be a pescetarian because I’m allergic to meat. I get anxious it’s a chemical imbalance. I can’t eat meat, but I’ll try it.

O: What’s your favorite dish to cook?

C: I’m Italian, so I’m going to have to say Grandma’s spaghetti marinara with the long-stewed marinara sauce. The recipe is embedded in my family, something we were raised on. I also enjoy cooking with my aunt, so anytime we make ravioli or pizza from scratch, it’s always fun.

O: Do you have any kitchen disaster stories?

C: Maggie made enchiladas for a potluck. She told me, as I was reading, “Hey Jake, they’re cooling down right now, but when they cool down, can you put them in the refrigerator, so they don’t go bad?” I said sure I didn’t. The next day for the potluck, she had to skip work because she had to remake the enchiladas.

O: What is the one food or drink you cannot live without?

C: Coffee. I would perpetually die every morning that I haven’t had my coffee. And ice cream. I’m addicted to ice cream.

O: Which ice cream flavor is your favorite?

C: Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk — I’m going to have some tonight. I had a pint last night and I’m going to have a pint tonight. I run everyday so that I can eat ice cream. It is my motivation to run.