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updated: 12/26/2012 6:33 AM

Cook of the week: Bloomingdale loves to share love of cooking with friends, family his students

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  • John Butts has a weakness for appetizers, like these goat cheese-stuffed, prosciutto-wrapped shrimp.

       John Butts has a weakness for appetizers, like these goat cheese-stuffed, prosciutto-wrapped shrimp.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Cook of the Week John Butts of Bloomingdale wraps goat cheese-stuffed shrimp in prosciutto before they land in the saute pan.

       Cook of the Week John Butts of Bloomingdale wraps goat cheese-stuffed shrimp in prosciutto before they land in the saute pan.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Video: John Butts's spicy shrimp

 
By Sally Eyre
Daily Herald Correspondent

When John Butts says he and his wife "like to entertain," that may be a bit of an understatement. In fact, through the years the Bloomingdale couple has managed to make an art of blending entertaining and fundraising for a number of charitable causes in their community.

Once, a dinner for eight prepared and served in their home was auctioned off for more than a $1,000.

"Of course that was before the recession," laughs John. The lucky recipients were able to choose from three or four menus the Butts had prepared, or could request whatever they liked.

"I make a pretty mean beef tenderloin on the grill," says John. His wife cooks along with him and the dinners are very successful.

John also enjoys being part of the 50 Men Who Cook fundraiser held annually in Bloomingdale to raise money for the community. For this event, 50 cooks all prepare 200 "tastes" and the crowd pays a fee to sample and vote on their favorites. Twice John has won the appetizer category.

"I'm kind of an appetizer guy," John admits. "Whenever I look at a new cookbook I tend to look at the appetizers."

One of his favorite appetizers to make is Buffalo Shrimp, a spicy recipe he developed to mimic a dish he had at a favorite restaurant.

"They wouldn't share the recipe, but I've come pretty close with this." Luckily for us, John has no qualms about sharing his recipe.

Indeed, John loves to share his love for cooking. Every year John stirs up a cooking demo for the cooking students at the high school where he is superintendent.

"I do a butternut squash risotto. Many times the students have not had butternut squash or risotto, so it's getting them to try something new. It's also a good way for me to get to know the kids. Afterward they recognize me in the hallway and we talk about what they're cooking at home."

John has enjoyed cooking for as long as he can remember.

"When I was a youngster I used to make breakfast for my family. I had Betty Crocker's "Cooking for Boys and Girls" and my parents encouraged me to cook. I've tried to find that old book on E-bay, but I haven't been able to find one that old!"

In high school John moved up to the grill master for the family.

"If there was grilling to do, I did it."

You're still likely to find John standing over the grill.

"My wife doesn't eat red meat, so I do a lot of chicken and fish, but on Christmas I always do a standing rib roast on the grill."

Still, it's not highbrow entertaining all the time for the Butts, they also indulge in the casual taco Tuesdays and pizza nights.

Not surprisingly, it seems they have instilled the love for entertaining in their children.

"Both of our kids like to cook and they like to entertain. You never know what they'll come up with! It's not unusual to hear that they're having lots of people over."

• To suggest someone to be profiled here, send the cook's name, address and phone number to food@dailyherald.com.

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