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170 Wine & Spirit Purveyors • 70 of San Diego's Top Chefs
Celebrity Chefs • Cooking & Wine Tasting Classes
Big Bottle Auction • Continuous Food and Wine Tastings
Over 800 Wines • $50,000 Chef of The Fest Competition

Sam Zien
Sam The Cooking Guy

wine food festival san diego sam zien photo

Before he became “Sam the Cooking Guy”, Sam Zien was a working stiff just like everyone else.  However, one day in 2001, he decided to leave behind his position at a San Diego biotechnology company to spend his days doing something he was truly passionate about.  After a great deal of thought and reflection, Sam decided that he would combine his love for people and zest for life by pursuing a career in television.

Initially, Sam decided to focus on filming travel segments aimed toward demystifying exotic travel for the everyday person.  His goal was to entertain audiences while empowering them to explore foreign locales on their own.  However, with the events of September 11 occurring just a month before Sam’s first scheduled shoot in Tokyo, it was clear that the time was not right to launch a new travel program.

So Sam went back to the drawing board.  He didn’t know what else to do, but he needed to change his focus to something else that he could simplify for people.  Finally, Sam decided that cooking was a natural fit because he felt the other cooking shows on TV were overly complicated and intimidating to the average viewer.  Sam figured it was time for someone to make cooking easy — his goal was still to entertain, but also to have people say “Hey, I can make that!”

In 2002, Sam set about filming the type of cooking show that he would like—one with easy-to-follow steps, a lot of humor and zero pretension.  Then, with nothing to lose, he distributed the tape to local San Diego television news stations.  Before he knew it, he had landed a regular two-minute cooking segment twice a week on a local San Diego morning news show.

As his audience grew, Sam’s cooking segment evolved into a 30-minute show appropriately named Sam the Cooking Guy, which continues to air in various cities across the country.  The show’s irreverent mix of easy-to-replicate recipes and spontaneous humor was an instant hit with viewers and critics, as evidenced by its eight local Emmy awards.

Starting in the fall of 2007, Sam will be seen coast-to-coast in JUST COOK THIS on Discovery Health.  The show features Sam’s trademark offbeat wit, while this time exposing viewers to great-tasting, easy-to-prepare recipes that are also healthy.  Additionally, Sam’s first cookbook, ‘Just a Bunch of Recipes’ will be released by John Wiley & Son’s in the spring of 2008. 

Along with his wife, three teenage sons and two dogs, Sam lives in San Diego in the house where he tapes his shows—a real guy, in his real kitchen, cooking food for real people.

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San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival
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7556 Trade St.
San Diego, CA  92121

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