At the head of U.S. Risk Insurance Group Inc., Randall Goss spends his weekend mornings using his business acumen to assess a different kind of risk: executing extravagant breakfasts in the dream kitchen he designed himself. “I think there’s nothing better than a really good home-cooked meal,” Goss says. Goss’s kitchen, which he more than doubled when he bought his house, is equipped with two ovens and 10 burners. In it, he prepares gourmet meals, including his massive breakfasts comprising various kinds of meats, hash browns made from scratch, egg casseroles or omelets, and French toast.
When Goss was about 10 years old, he would watch cooking shows and attempt to replicate the dishes he saw demonstrated on TV. When Goss wasn’t getting ideas there, he was learning from his mother, who frequently encouraged him to help her prepare traditional southern meals. “My mother was a great cook,” he says. “I grew up watching her in the kitchen.”
Now, about five decades later, Goss watches cooking shows for inspiration. “I look at the cooking shows as a reference guide to ideas,” says Goss, 63. “I don’t sit there and take notes or do exactly as they did. I try to get the basic concept.” He also reads cookbooks from cover to cover, because he enjoys learning about the methodology for preparing certain types of dishes. “Cooking is an art with a cross of science,” Goss says. The home cook doesn’t write down all his recipes. His method for cooking is to follow his instincts, just as he follows his instincts running his prosperous company.
Goss uses the skills he has learned in business to improve his processes in the kitchen. So he never makes the same mistake twice, he says. If Goss makes an error preparing a dish, it can be guaranteed that it will not happen again, he says. Even if his experimentations fail, Goss still enjoys cooking. For him, preparing all of the ingredients offers a type of therapy. When dishes turn out as planned, Goss finds delight in seeing his friends and family revel in the food he prepares. “That is a big compliment at the end,” Goss says. “Finding that people actually enjoyed the meal.” To ensure their satisfaction, he meticulously plates each dish, making sure each meal is as presentable as it is delicious.
Goss’s favorite kind of food to prepare is southern, a cuisine that was passed on from his mother, but he also likes to prepare Italian. His favorite dish to make is lasagna, which he assembles with ground turkey, homemade sauce, cottage cheese, and spinach. He likes to substitute healthier and lower fat ingredients in many of his dishes, a challenge when preparing southern food. Although Goss is good at keeping his options open, when it comes to certain kinds of food, such as foods that are grey in color, he won’t touch them. If he had to choose the best food he has ever eaten, it would be his mother’s fried chicken, he says.
After a long day at the office, Goss doesn’t always like to go home and hit the kitchen. “I do cook sometimes at the end of the day, but I tend to cook more on the weekends when there’s more leisure time,” he says. Goss says cooking is what helps him relax when he is not hard at work leading U.S. Risk. He believes that most people at his office would be surprised to discover that he has a passion for cooking because he never brings his dishes into the office. If they were to find out, though, and ask him for tips on preparing meals, Goss would most likely reply: “The best way to learn to cook is to just do it.”