But after years in the construction business, Brooks said he no could longer ignore his passion for cooking.
After completing the necessary training and working in the cut-throat restaurant business, Brooks now is sharing his culinary skills with Kennesaw State University students.
Brooks is teaching the university's Culinary Fast Track Apprenticeship Certificate program.
The intense, 10-month program is for aspiring culinary masters who would like to learn the skills necessary to thrive in the restaurant business.
The classes, which meet once a week on Tuesdays at the KSU Center, also provide a hands-on experience in learning the basics of kitchen and utensil techniques.
The program is based on the European model of preparing students to become successful chefs by providing less classroom instruction and more hands-on experience in an actual restaurant kitchen.
After about two months, the students are placed in restaurant appprentice slots where they work side-by-side with real chefs for 16 hours a week. The students rotate to four venues throughout the course.
Students are placed in various high-end restaurants in the metro Atlanta area and one catering company, such as Villa Christina in Atlanta, City Club of Buckhead and Endive Atlanta Fine Catering.
The students are able to "get first-hand experience" at working in the restaurant industry while taking the course, said Brooks.
Some of the culinary skills students learn in the classroom include knife techniques, cold curing fish and working on presentations of dishes.
Currently, three students are enrolled in the program, all of whom have full-time jobs.
Brooks said the students in the program are "keeping up with everything" and catching on with learning the skills.
"I have no doubt in my mind they could be hired somewhere," he said, adding one student already owns a restaurant, but is working to sharpen his culinary skills.
Brooks said he was approached by KSU?Continuing Education Center Marketing Director Kim Groves about teaching the new program, which the school long had wanted to offer.
Brooks said he examined the curriculum the college had mapped out, but it was "overwhelming."
He eventually pared down the curriculum into a workable, 10-month program.
Mrs. Groves said there's been interest in adding culinary programs at the Continuing Education Center for a couple of years.
Brooks, she said, was the perfect person for the job.
"He's an excellent chef and a people person," she said, adding she knew Brooks has had a passion for cooking for more than 20 years.
After selling his construction company in 2005, Brooks enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta.
He graduated in the summer of 2006 with an associate's degree in culinary arts and began working in various restaurants, such as the Appalachian Grill in Cartersville and Governor's Towne Club in Acworth.
Brooks said he decided working in the restaurant business wasn't for him, so he began entertaining friends and family with his skills by hosting dinner parties.
"I like the fact that you can merge ingredients and with the proper techniques, you can make something extraordinary," he said about cooking.
While he doesn't have a favorite dish, he enjoys cooking seafood the most.
One local chef he admires is Zach Kell, owner of Downtown Kitchen and Goin' Coastal, both in downtown Canton, because of his ability to use fresh ingredients to make memorable dishes.
His "foodie" friends, Brooks said, would bring him "odd" ingredients and told him to "see what you can do with it."
"I like to keep making different things," he said.
Mrs. Groves said the program, which maxes out at 10 students per class, has become a hit at the university.
"He's one of the main draws of that program," she said. "He has a love of food that's evident in him."
She said when the program begins with a second cohort in October, she said she hopes to see the class filled with students eager to learn.
Brooks said he hopes his students develop the same passion for food as he has.
He also said he wants his students to realize that cooking becomes more fun when you learn the skills to be successful in the restaurant industry.
"I hope their love of cooking and food is going to increase throughout the course," he said.
For information about the Culinary Fast Track Apprenticeship Certificate, call Debra Hill at (770) 423-6258, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or see the Web site at www.kennesaw.edu/coned/hospitality/culinary-cert.html.