Burr Ridge personal chef turns hobby into new career
Steve Menke has been cooking his own food since he was a teenager. | Sandy Illian Bosch—Sun-Times Media
Owner: Steve Menke
Hometown: Burr Ridge
Specializing in: sharing his love of food and cooking
Contact: (630) 452-9181, facebook.com/YourCulinaryCoachInc.
Updated: February 25, 2013 2:22AM
BURR RIDGE — You can only watch so much television.
Steve Menke came to that conclusion not long after retiring from his career in accounting and soon got busy on his second career as a chef.
“I always cooked,” said Menke, who took his hobby to the next level by earning a culinary arts certificate from College of DuPage this year.
The Burr Ridge resident is now launching his own business, Your Culinary Coach Inc., to share his love of food and cooking.
“My first love is I like to teach people how to cook,” said Menke.
He said people are easily intimidated by cooking, but by learning just a few basic techniques, they often are surprised at what they can do in the kitchen.
“A recipe is a guide,” said Menke, who started preparing his own meals as a teenager.
A lifelong diabetic, he learned to create tasty dishes that met his dietary needs.
“Cooking should be fun,” he said.
Rather than fancy dishes found at a five-star restaurant, Menke is about providing food that his customers can duplicate in their own homes.
“I always give out recipe cards,” he said.
As a personal chef, he will provide whatever culinary service the customer needs, whether it is catering a cocktail party with one-of-a-kind appetizers or teaching a group or individual how to prepare a favorite dish.
One of Menke’s favorite tricks is to transform entrees into appetizers.
“That way, you’re only eating just a fraction,” he said of dishes like his pork belly appetizers, served on a brioche crostini with a reduced red wine glaze.
He also likes to create the unexpected by incorporating savory ingredients into typically sweet recipes.
“Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs,” said Menke, who likes to add the herb to cakes and muffins.
People who taste his creations are often pleasantly surprised.
“They say, ‘I would never have expected it, but I like it.’ That’s what makes me come back and do it again,” he said.