John Cassimus does it all. Not only did he help grow the original Zoë’s Kitchen into a successful franchise, but he also assisted in the growth of Maki Fresh and Jinsei Sushi; opened Miss Dots in Mountain Brook in 2015; and he opened Crazy Cazboy’s, a discount store in Homewood, in 2019, among other entrepreneurial adventures.
Next up, this serial entrepreneur is in the kitchen. Cassimus was tapped to lead a 12-part cooking series, “Darn Hungry,” which is available to watch online and is hosted by SkyPoint Cameras.
His love for cooking started at a young age. In 1944, Cassimus’ grandfather, John Proferis, opened a restaurant in Birmingham called John’s Restaurant. His mother and grandmother, who were both Greek, were talented chefs, and Cassimus grew up watching them in the kitchen.
One night, when his mother was at a friend’s house, a 9-year-old Cassimus got a sweet tooth. He wanted cake, but there wasn’t any in the house. He called his mom and told her he wanted to make a cake from scratch.
She told him to grab her copy of “The Joy of Cooking” by Irma Rombauer and follow the recipe.
“She came home a couple of hours later, and I had a cake sitting there,” he said. “She shook her head at me — I was only 9 years old and had made a cake, turned the oven on and everything by myself. She was impressed.”
This experience ignited his love for cooking. “Cooking is something that’s an artistic form for me,” he said. “My artistic abilities for me are that I have a pretty good eye for design. But in regards to music, painting or drawing, I have zero artistic ability.
“But when it comes to food, that’s how my art comes out and my creativity is taken. Anything I want to cook, I experiment with, and I come up with things that typically taste good.”
One of his most beloved recipes is the chicken roll-up he created for Zoë’s Kitchen. He continued to develop the menu there until he sold it to a private equity fund in 2007.
In addition to his entrepreneurial adventures, Cassimus also enjoys hunting, biking, photography and flying airplanes. His love for cooking pairs well with his love for the outdoors, he said.
“Typically when you hunt, you’re at someone’s house, or a lodge, or a farm, and everything’s always about fellowship and talking about the day,” he said. “In my life, I feel cheated if I don’t celebrate every day with a big meal.”
The chief marketing officer for SkyPoint Cameras, which is a company that sells hunting and security cameras, met Cassimus at a trade show last year. He followed Cassimus on social media and saw that he was posting about food every night. He called Cassimus and pitched the idea to help create a cooking show.
Like many other adventures in Cassimus’ life, he said yes.
With “Darn Hungry,” Cassimus makes clean, simple recipes in short 10-minute videos.
“I’m not making really crazy, intricate recipes where it takes process after process,” he said. “I will get crazy sometimes and do something fancy, but my cooking is basically lean proteins — fish, chicken, venison or meat — and I’m always about vegetables and salad.”
At home, Cassimus is busy and has limited time to cook. So viewers can trust that his videos can accommodate a busy schedule while still delivering with nutritious, tasty recipes.
To watch the episodes of Darn Hungry, visit spypoint.com or search the SkyPoint Trail Cameras account on YouTube.