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  • Chef Roger Coons
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Chef Roger Coons

Chef at The Chopping Block since: 2015

Favorite class to teach: Knife Skills

Training/education: Associate Applied Science, Kendall College Evanston Il 1997

Cooking since: I was 8 years old.

Favorite childhood food experience: Learning how to cook with Grandma and Mom. 

What made you want to become a chef? My love for food and artistic creation.

What is your signature dish? My sons would say Nachos, but without a doubt, my Veal Stock/Demi glacé is my culinary calling card.

What are the 5 ingredients you can't live without? Onion, thyme, garlic, wine, meat. 

What do you love about cooking? Creating something amazing that others enjoy. The togetherness that cooking and mealtime creates. Teaching others to be better cooks and seeing their passion ignite. The smells of the kitchen and the experimentation with thousands of ingredients!

When you're creating a new recipe, what influences and inspires you? The grocery store. I love walking through the produce aisle and finding fresh, in-season veggies to start my thought process. I love to experiment and am not afraid to try strange combinations.

What advice would you give a new cook? Learn and master your Mother Sauces and basic cooking techniques and knife skills right away. Then explore more specialized training.

What are you doing when you're not cooking? Teaching others to cook. 

Describe your perfect evening. Laying back on a flat rock peninsula on a remote lake near our campsite in the BWCA wilderness looking up at more starts than I imagined could exist, talking to my sons about space travel and what it might be like on the other end of the Galaxy, counting satellites and shooting stars until we fall asleep.

If you had friends in from out of town, where would you take them to eat? I would most certainly cook for them. But if we were spending the evening out, Pita Inn, Lou Malnoti's and Jay's Beef in Schiller Park would make the list for dining. If we wanted more upscale, Purple Pig, Spiaggia and Les Nomades are favorites of mine. For brunch either Mr. Allisons in Mt. Prospect or Hash House a Go Go in Lincoln Park.

Where are you from? Chicago

What was your favorite vacation? Ten day wilderness canoeing and backpacking trip with my girlfriend through Northeast Superior National Forest.

What are your hobbies? Camping, canoeing, backpacking and fishing. I also love cars. I race, restore and show old and new sports cars. 

What is your favorite band? I am a musician and music lover, so picking one is impossible, but Stevie Ray Vaughan is one of my all-time favorites.

What is your favorite sports team? DA Bears!

If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be? Auguste Escoffier

What are your guilty pleasures? Chocolate Chip Cookies and Wendy's

Who is your favorite celebrity chef? Julia Child

What 5 tools should every new cook have in the kitchen?

  • Honing steel
  • 8" Chef's knife
  • Knife guard
  • Epicurean cutting board
  • Bottle opener

What resources would you suggest for Chopping Block students? The New Professional Chef and The Joy of Cooking are two of my top resources for classic recipe bases.

List your favorite tips or techniques you use in the kitchen: 

  • The radial onion cut is my most used. I use a lot of onions and this technique is the quickest with the most uniform results.
  • Basic knife skills. I can't overstate the importance of mastering the correct way to hold your knife, the proper cutting techniques and even how to care for your knives and cutting boards. Once you have a strong comfort level with knife skills, cooking becomes a lot more efficient and fun!
  • Have a plan and mise en place ahead of time. It's much less stressful to cook when everything is already cut, chopped, seasoned and all of your cooking equipment is out and handy. If you are well prepared, cooking can become a social part of the party if you want it to be. People love to gather in the kitchen and watch what is going on.

 

Roger's Favorite Tool

Shun-Chef-Knife.jpgI LOVE the Shun Classic 8" Chef's knife. It is one of the finest knives I've used. It makes cutting an absolute joy!