Dan Kurnick has been helping his dad in the kitchen ever since he was tall enough to reach the cutting board.
"My dad has taught me everything I know about cooking," says Dan. "I've always liked watching Dad cook. I've always been eager to learn. His dishes are fantastic and I'm one who likes to eat."
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"We enjoy eating," laughs his dad, Ed Kurnick. "Some people live to eat, some people eat to live. We live to eat."
Even though he's away at college, when Dan comes home to Hoffman Estates on weekends he and his dad manage to find time to cook together.
"He'll come up to me or I'll come up to him and say, 'I've got a cool recipe I want to try!'" Dan says. Spaghetti and meatballs, pizza and homemade macaroni and cheese are in their repertoire.
Ed has been cooking since his mother went back to work when he was quite young and he "decided those frozen entrees wouldn't work for me." Ed started cooking for his family and continued to cook when he went off to college.
"I was too cheap to go out all the time," Ed says.
Dan finds he prefers to cook in his college apartment for much the same reason.
"It's much cheaper and I love leftovers. Leftovers are sometimes better the second day because the spices have had a chance to marinate more."
Dan cooks for himself and his roommate, but he also likes to entertain. The recipe for mushroom soup Dan shares with us today was invented while he was in his kitchen with a bunch of friends experimenting with soup recipes.
Ed enjoys experimenting as well. He particularly enjoys recreating meals he has eaten at restaurants. Beef on Fire is one of these successes, a Thai-inspired dish spiced with a curry paste.
"I try to get quality ingredients and then recreate what I've had at a restaurant -- I usually fly by the seat of my pants, a little bit of this and a taste of that. Then it'll cost me 3 bucks instead of 10!"
Ed does have a few creations he become particularly known for. First, there is the brisket that he always makes for Passover.
"It might be my claim to fame," Ed smiles.
"I look forward to Passover all year," says Dan. "I belong to a Jewish fraternity at school, and when we had brisket there I couldn't even eat it -- it was nothing compared to my dad's!"
Ed's religious background has had a large influence on his cooking.
"My Jewish heritage did not come just from what I've learned at Temple. It comes from being with family around the table, from the food you share and the stories you hear. These are the things you cherish the most, these are the experiences that make an impression on your life."
Ed's other talent is baking.
"My dad's pies are stellar," says Dan who recently made his dad's apple pie to such success that he had to post a photo of it of social media.
"I was craving his pie for several weeks so I had to make one."
Dan fondly recalls birthdays when his dad would make a batch of banana cupcakes with chocolate frosting for Dan to share with his class at school.
"All the kids loved them. They're fantastic," said Dan. Luckily, we get that recipe too!
Dan's mother also cooks, by the way, when the two let her in the kitchen.
"She makes great apricot chicken," Dan assures us.
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