Meet the Chefs--Paul S. Owens

Hometown: Morton, Illinois ( just 7 miles outside of Peoria, Illinois)

Current City: Mitchell, Indiana (since 1987)

First Culinary Memory: Making a birthday cake for my older sister’s boyfriend, was too literal at reading recipes and added 2 whole eggs to the batter, shells and all. Was not discovered until the cake was being eaten.

Best Job: Had the pleasure of working with my mother in both her restaurants, starting at the age of 12

Favorite thing to cook at home: Cracker crumb breaded pan fried pork chops with scorched gravy, Yukon gold mashed potatoes and green beans. It’s not necessarily my favorite thing to cook, but it will guarantee all my kids come home to eat. As a parent of 7 children, there is no finer feeling than having all your kids home at once around the dining table.

Tell us about your family: I have seven children, six daughters and one son. I worked way too much for the older three or four daughters to experience cooking with Dad. However, as I’ve moved on in my career and am more stable in the hours I work, the youngest two daughters have learned a lot over the last few years. My 17 year old son has no interest in cooking as long as there is fair warning as to when to be present for dinner.(oh, and you have to generally wake him up first)

Funniest/worst culinary experience: Funny now, but horrifying when it happened. I was 17 and was helping in the kitchen at a university in Illinois, and the university was hosting the Illinois governors ball. I was asked to check on the Vichyssoise, ( a very creamy, potato and leek soup). As I located the soup, I noticed that it was stone cold. No way was I going to have the evening ruined by serving cold soup! I cranked the heat under both steam kettles promptly and careful not to scorch the creation, had it at 160 degrees just minutes before the wait staff came back to serve. Disaster averted, right? Wrong! Vichyssoise is ONLY served cold. I have never seen, to this day, a chef get so mad and turn so red with anger. The veins in his neck and forehead were massive. He cursed in German for at least a half hour. This man made Gordon Ramsay look like a school girl. I still must say!

Easiest Recipe to Wow Your Friends:Crème Brulee

• 1 quart heavy cream
• 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
• 1 cup vanilla sugar, divided
• 6 large egg yolks
• 2 quarts hot water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Place the cream, vanilla bean and its pulp into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean from the cream.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually. Pour the liquid into 6 (7 to 8-ounce) ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake just until the creme brulee is set, but still shaky in the center, approximately 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Remove the brulee from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to browning the sugar on top. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup vanilla sugar equally among the 6 dishes and spread evenly on top. Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow the creme brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving

Stop in Hagen's Restaurant (located at the Donald Ross Course) to say hello to Paul in person