Ham and cheese stuffed pork tenderloin

  • Stan Janis browns stuffed pork tenderloins before finishing them with a dry white wine sauce.

    Stan Janis browns stuffed pork tenderloins before finishing them with a dry white wine sauce. Tanit Jarusan

  • Stan Janis's pork tenderloin stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese.

    Stan Janis's pork tenderloin stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese. Tanit Jarusan

Updated 10/20/2010 6:51 AM

Today's online food demo by Stan Janis isn't nearly the first time this 53-year-old independent contractor has appeared on camera, nor his most dramatic role.

As an infrequent extra and small-parts actor on TV and in movies, Stan has appeared in docudramas for The Weather Channel, History Channel and Discovery Channel.


He almost appeared as a prison guard in the latest Batman thriller, "The Dark Knight, which was shot in Chicago, but in the final edits his brief bit landed on the cutting room floor.

Still, he had the opportunity to get beaten up and die for a docudrama on Discovery in which he played a drug-user friend of a skinhead group. Does it get any better than that?

Unfortunately, opportunities dried up during this Great Recession, so Stan's juiciest part is playing celebrity chef at home in Itasca where he produces family-rated meals for himself and his wife, Sandra.

"I would have turned to cooking as a career except for the incredibly long hours, and giving up nights and weekends, says the owner of Standra Home and Commercial Improvement.

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Stan's own story, growing up on Chicago's Northwest side, might be fodder for a docudrama. His mother was 19 when she married a much older fellow, divorced him 12 years later and remarried when Stan was 13.

As a grade schooler Stan was a latchkey child, home alone from after school until well into the evening, scrounging for his own dinner. At 17, unable to see eye-to-eye with his step-father, he left home.

"I couldn't take it anymore, he says.

With a part-time job at an auto dealership, Stan lived in his car for a week until he found an apartment. From there he finished high school and learned to cook.

It was that or starve, he says.

Meals were simple and hearty, and the best ones produced leftovers for two or three more nights. He watched Jeff Smith, the Frugal Gourmet, on WTTW and glanced at cookbooks now and then, developing a no-frills style that he's embraced all his life.


"My food is based on flavor, not on how many different ingredients I can throw in there, he says. "Recipes with 14 spices and herbs, how do you taste the food?

Stan builds flavor in his vintage Easy Swiss Steak with beef soup base, onion and garlic. The dish is one of the first things he learned to make as a teenage "free spirit living on his own.

"I had to be frugal, he says, on a salary of $44 a week and rent of $90. "Round steak was $1.29 a pound; sirloin was $3.99.

Much older is his recipe for Lithuanian potato pudding.

"Like most eastern European country recipes, this dish was invented to help sustain people through the long winters, and to use ingredients that were cheap and plentiful, he says.

A more contemporary and pricier recipe is his Ham and Cheese Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, a porcine variation of chicken Kiev, finished with a white wine sauce.

You can watch him prepare it online today. It's definitely a meaty role.