Bret Bielema breaks down love of cooking

HOOVER, Ala. -- Brandon Allen wants in. So do Jonathan Williams and Keon Hatcher.

If Bret Bielema is such a good chef, they want to see what all the fuss is about. They've heard he's cooked for other players, but they're still waiting their turn.

"He has yet to make the QBs dinner," said Allen, Arkansas' fifth-year senior quarterback, recalling once when he bought the group breakfast.

"I guess it's a little secret he's keeping," said Williams, who with Alex Collins forms one of the best running back tandems in the country.

What is no longer a secret -- thanks to his active Twitter account -- is that Bielema is no stranger to the kitchen. The stocky head coach may be old school when it comes to his physical, ground-and-pound philosophy of offense, but he's fine with tossing his clipboard aside for an apron and whisking some eggs with scallions.

"You don't get this size by chance," he joked.

The youngest of three boys in a house of five, he was thrown into the kitchen to help and has enjoyed it there ever since. In a profession that's undeniably demanding, cooking has become his place to relax.

"I'm a momma's boy at heart," he said. "I grew up watching my mom cook.

"I've never taken a cooking class. I've never gone to a cooking show. I've never read a recipe in my life. I just kind of watch things, add things."

Every Thursday since he became a head coach, he's gone home from his radio show and made dinner. For seven years, it was two buddies that were treated to a meal from scratch.

They say recruiting is everything in football, and his skills in the kitchen came in handy there as well, helping him land a dinner partner for the past three years.

"I have cooked for a recruit," he said. "The biggest recruit of my life: my wife."

Jen Bielema makes the division of household chores even by taking care of the cleaning. Which is good because the farthest she's gotten as a chef is making soup, Bret Bielema said.

Bielema loves to grill, but he said that Jen is trying to get him "on a salad kick." He'll try anything, though.

"Lasagna and baking can get a little nerve-wracking," he said.

"I'm old-school, so usually I don't fail."