I've enjoyed baking my own cheesecakes for the past decade+ just to avoid the norm of the no-bake (fraud) versions of the best dessert ever created. I also look for ways to "twist" some classics to my own designs. Not to brag, but I've gotten some friends addicted to baked goods over the years.
The people that truly influence anybody's cooking abilities are the ones closest to home. My own influences were my mother, father, aunts, and uncles. Other influences and techniques came from the cooking/baking/grilling shows on TV both when I was a child and to this day. It's a neverending learning process. When we master the art of all types of creating, what is left is nothing more.