Hugh Higgins is a man of many talents. You might have seen him on stage—in costume or strumming his guitar. Higgins began cooking in his early teens, and utilized his self-taught skills later in life when he auditioned to become the Next Food Network Star (He’ll try again next year!). A good palate spurred Higgins’ interest in wine, enabling him to climb the ranks of the wine and spirit industry for almost 28 years, landing in his current position of district manager with Pernod Ricard. An admirer of Abraham Lincoln, this accomplished Peorian believes in “paying it forward.” Here are 10 more things you may not know about him.

  1. Secret ambition: To retire from the alcohol beverage industry and pursue an acting career,and maybe play Ford’s Oriental Theater in Chicago some day.
  2. Last novel read: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
  3. Favorite aspect of central Illinois: The full spectrum of all four seasons, but particularly our autumn.
  4. What is your greatest extravagance? In our home, we eat locally raised organic meats and community-supported agriculture whenever possible.  
  5. When and where are you happiest? The solitude of nature is rejuvenating and fills me up.
  6. Which talent would you most like to have?  I would love to be an accomplished pianist. Who knows, it’s never too late!
  7. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Conceptualizing, producing, directing and performing the Dan Fogelberg Memorial Tribute Show with 21 local musicians and singers last year.
  8. What would you say to your 20-year-old self? Pay yourself first and invest early for your future.  
  9. What is your favorite childhood memory?  Summers at my grandparents’ farm in Kentucky. Dewy mornings fishing at their pond, the hot August days and the smell of sweet country air at twilight. 
  10. If you could spend one hour doing absolutely anything, what would you do? Snorkeling in warm tropical waters. a&s