There's just one thing you need to do to lose weight, save money, become pretty much irresistible to lady-people and generally be a better man.
Learn to cook. That's it!
I don't just mean knowing how to fry a chop and boil an egg, and maybe even do the carbonara your mother taught you. To cook well is to understand how to treat great produce with the respect it deserves and deliver delicious, nourishing, beautiful, simple food to the ones you love. You'll be serving up a gift to yourself as well.
Balancing the scales
Not enough men cook. Sure, it's a sausage party at the peak of the culinary industry, with your Jamies and Hestons and Marcos, but far too many of us are letting women, our mums, wives and partners, do the thing we should be doing for ourselves. We're ripping ourselves off.
Smashing Uber Eats when you come home every night might be tasty, but it's also expensive when you do it 25 times a month and you're guaranteed to ingest more kilojoules than you would if you took a moment to make something for yourself.
You don't need to be tempering chocolate or making your own choux pastry from scratch, but having a quiver of skills at your disposal to interpret a recipe, or make something clever from what's in the back of her fridge, is super cool.
An artform to show off
Cooking is arguably the most complete art, involving all the senses. No-one likes a show off but cooking well is dead impressive. You create an environment of warmth, companionship and sophistication, where conversation and wine flow freely, and everyone you feed is always incredibly grateful and can't help but admire you.
Yesterday friends came for brunch and all I did was poach some eggs, and make some fat slabs of bacon with crusty bread. You'd think I had spent two days creating a fine dining experience in my three-hatted restaurant, so delighted was everybody to be fed a delicious breakfast they didn't have to prepare themselves, or pay for.
It ticks the boxes
Cooking well is a manly pursuit. It takes practice, like sport, project management, like work, and involves using awesome and dangerous tools, like a tradie.
Being able to dice like a machine, flashing high-quality Japanese steel past your fingertips is ninja-cool. No onion is safe.
Cooking is just damn sexy. If you're dating, there isn't a woman alive who can resist an offer to cook at her place, or yours. A man who can cook shows talent, intelligence, organisation, creativity and a nurturing side. Food is most definitely love. Food is sensual. She is going to want to sex you once she's seen your skills and tasted your creations. It's definitely hot in the kitchen.
My premeditated seduction of my partner revolved around food. To this day, food is deeply integrated into our love life – okay, not literally - and "our" food has developed into something unique. What we eat is so bang on our own taste point we'll often wish we'd cooked at home when we're out for dinner, paying $30 for a main.
A recipe for success
Coming up with ideas for my vegetarian late-teens daughter is a challenge and a pleasure. If you can cook you can make anyone happy. Well, pretty much… if she's vegan, help her understand a good steak in a hot pan is God's way of telling us he loves us and wants us to be happy.
A very smart old bloke once told me you can tell how a woman will be in bed by the way she eats. In my limited experience he was bang on. Food and sex are lovingly entwined.
If you don't already, bring cooking into your life. It's a recipe for success.
With more than 25 years in Australian media, Phil Barker has edited NW and Woman's Day magazines, and published such titles as Vogue, GQ, Delicious, InsideOut and Donna Hay. He is owner of a creative events and activations agency and is a regular commentator on the life and style of Australian men.
Have you nailed even one signature dish that keeps family and friends coming back for more? Share your tips in the comments section below.