Jerry McGee: a love story about family and food

Feb. 12, 2013 @ 06:59 PM

Dr. Jerry E. McGee, President of Wingate University, has a love story about family and food. He loves his family and they love his food. That is, when he’s grilling on his deck.            

Dr. McGee organizes family gatherings with a quick email to his sons, nieces and nephew. He doesn’t pick favorites among his three grandchildren, great niece and nephew.

 On one visit, Dr. McGee had those five youngsters on his lake dock. His goal: teaching them how to fish.

When he asked for more adult help, all up the hill waved and replied, “you asked for it and they’re all yours”.

Even without extra help, success was his. The children hooked two small ones!

Dr. McGee delights in this kind of family gathering. With all his responsibilities requiring him to dine out, dining at home with family is his precious commodity.

Barbecue ribs and chicken are tops on his menu.

“I’m a carnivore”said Dr. McGee.

Sometimes he mixes up his sauce.  Sometimes he pours it out of a bottle. Occasionally, he adds grilled corn. It just depends on the time and his mood.

He loves cooking on his grill and the slow quality it demands.

“It’s nice in this fast-paced world to have one activity that requires you to take your time to accomplish,”he said.

Dr. McGee values the Slow Food Movement. That’s the global initiative dedicated to good food for people and the planet.

“Slow Food aims to be everything fast food is not” is how “USA Today” described it.

This slower pace gives him the leisure to catch up on the hustle and bustle and happenings in his family’s lives.

Dr. McGee’s passion for grilling really took off after his first wife suddenly passed away in 1999. Some friends presented him with a special, super duper grill. They were worried he might starve to death.

“Really, if my mother-in-law hadn’t been in close telephone contact on some nights I might have,”he said.

I myself, as a food writer, am afraid to delve into barbecue recipes. These are usually near and dear to a chef’s heart and can bring out the fight in a mild mannered person.

I will chime in on corn on the cob. I have two methods I use. Just like Dr.McGee it depends on the time and my mood.The first uses the grill and the second a pot of hot water.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

If I grill, I leave the corn in the husk. I pull off a few of the outer husk layers, pull back the others and leave them attached. I make sure all the silk is taken off. I bring the husks back up and secure with strips of the left over husks or with string. I soak the corn covered in cold water for about 15 minutes. I grill them in the husks, but I have heard of some wrapping in foil.

I test for doneness by poking with a sharp instrument. It’s usually 15 or more minutes. Take off the grill, remove the husks and serve with butter, salt and pepper. I have also experimented and pulled the husk back a second time, added butter, sealed back up and grilled.

Corn on the Cob with a Handle

When the grandchildren are around, I have also used this method. I cut the tip of the corn off (about 1-2 inches). Cook it in a pot of boiling water for one hour.

When you are able to handle the corn with a towel, pull the husks back, wrap that husks with paper towels. Pull off any silk.

For my friends and large family I use a tall narrow pot. I put in a pound of butter and fill with boiling water. The butter rises to the top. I dip the corn in and serve. The husks becomes a handle. It’s like eating a popsicle but it’s corn on the cob.

I’ve also served straight out of the water and let the guests add their own butter.


Monroe resident Jeanne Howell has attended cooking schools in San Francisco, Atlanta, Charlotte and Monroe. She and a partner are working on a cooking video project. She may be reached at 704-221-1905 or