Fittest loser
Article updated: 9/16/2013 3:05 PM

Chef du Jour: Chef turns his skill toward teaching from his 'man cave'

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By Abby Scalf

Receiving his training at the Western Culinary Institute in 1999, chef Pete Trusiak went on to work in restaurant kitchens in Wisconsin, Illinois and New Mexico.

After working as a corporate chef for Sub-Zero Corp and then the Viking Cooking School, he realized what he loves is teaching others how to cook great food in their own kitchens.

So, with help of his wife Marcy, Pete does just that from the comfort of his own "man cave" in his Wheaton home.

Launched in 2011, Pete said his website, CookingFromTheCave.tv, features easy, family-friendly recipes. Most dishes can be made for dinner, but there also are a few breakfast, lunch and dessert recipes too.

"We aim for a new recipe every week, but it varies. Sometimes we will upload three to four and other weeks are bye-weeks," he said.

Among the newest recipes he's posted that viewers can try are pan-seared halibut with roasted asparagus and beurre blanc sauce, lobster bisque and huevos rancheros.

"I want to show as many people as possible that it is easy to cook delicious, restaurant-quality food at home. Broadcasting on the Internet makes that possible," he said.

He continues to teach cooking classes for corporate clients or in private homes and is availble to cook at events in and around the suburbs.

What is your earliest food memory? The earliest food memory I have is visiting my great-grandmother's farm in Chicago and she served duck-blood soup. She came from the Galicia region of Poland in 1908, and her authentic home cooking was true to her homeland and extremely strange to a 6 year old. However, if I knew then what I know now, I would have made sure she had passed down all of her recipes.

What did you learn studying other chefs early in your career? Fresh, quality ingredients are key to a good meal.

Working at various restaurant kitchens, what has been your most memorable experience at work? Odessa Piper in Madison, Wis. was a pioneer of the "farm-to-table" philosophy and became a steward for Midwest sustainable dining. Odessa taught us to appreciate the farmers, ranchers and fishermen who produce our food.

Tell us about Cooking From the Cave and how you transitioned from the corporate world? Cooking From the Cave is both a website and a YouTube show that I tape in my spare time from my own "man-cave." The "cave" is a 12-by-20-foot storage room/second kitchen at the back of my house. Most of my stuff is stored back there, guitars, my road bike, tools, CDs, etc. I also have an oven, an induction cook top, and an exhaust hood. My wife liked playing around with websites and I love teaching people how to cook, so we thought that creating a web-based show would be a fun, collaborative project.

I've really enjoyed helping home cooks learn how to get the most out of their kitchen. With Cooking From the Cave, I can videotape an episode on a lazy Saturday, and that episode has the opportunity to be watched by an audience at any hour of the day and in any time zone.

What tips would you offer to home cooks? Invest in a comfortable knife, a knife sharpener and a great cutting board. Then, learn correct knife skills and practice, practice, practice. Don't overturn and over-stir food while it is cooking and do not overmix your batter when baking. Season with salt and pepper as you cook. For a fun challenge, head over to your local farmers market one weekend and make a meal from only what you can purchase there. You'll start to appreciate seasonal, local produce and meat.

What do you do in your spare time? My son, Ben, plays hockey, so we spend a good amount of time at the ice rink. I also like to run, bike and garden with my wife.

Tell us about this recipe: Fried calamari is one of our family's favorite appetizers to order when we go out to eat, but it is so hit or miss in terms of quality that we enjoy making it at home over the weekend. It's also a great appetizer to make when you have friends over to watch the big sporting event.

• To recommend a chef to be profiled, send the chef's name and contact information to food@dailyherald.com.

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