Ed Dolik of Arlington Heights wowed the judges of a recent burger contest with his original recipe that used a rich Guinness stout reduction sauce as its secret ingredient.
But on Tuesday, he faced an even tougher audience: his 91-year-old mother and the staff and volunteers at the Lutheran Home in Arlington Heights.
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Dolik replicated his winning burger in the employee cafeteria and served it up for his mother, Mildred Dolik, and nearly 170 staff members who rotated in and out during the lunch hour.
"I look at it as pay back to the home for taking such good care of my mother," said Dolik, who also volunteers in the Lutheran Home's Main Street Deli.
Back in November, Dolik was victorious in a burger contest co-sponsored by the Prime Burger House restaurant at Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, and Elgin Community College.
He took up cooking when he retired last year from a 38-year career as a stagehand at various Chicago venues and at Ravinia. In his free time, he enrolled in culinary classes at ECC and will graduate next fall with an associate degree in culinary sciences.
He already has an entrée to his credit, which after the contest ran for a week on the menu at the Prime Burger House. He called it St. Paddy's Patty.
It features a patty made from twice-ground chuck roast resting on a crispy, thin potato pancake, all wrapped in a potato roll and with a side of Irish coleslaw.
"I wanted to create a burger that has the flavor profile of Ireland," said Dolik, whose birthday falls the day after St. Patrick's Day.
Employees who took him up on his offer of a free, award-winning lunch, gave him rave reviews, as well.
"Outstanding," said Jim Skoufes, facilities' director. "I love the texture of the meat and the crispiness of the potato pancake on top. I'm something of a burger expert and this is outstanding."
The patty even won over a non-burger lover, in Joyce Fosua, a certified nursing assistant who enjoyed her surprise lunch.
"I liked the flavor," Fosua said. "It's not too dry, and it's not too spicy. I liked it."
Lutheran Home residents may be in luck and receive more award winning samples from Dolik. After he completes his degree, Dolik hopes to take more classes: this time in baking and pastry arts.