Jamie Bordoshuk makes Panko-crusted chicken breasts
Unemployment spurs Naperville dad to work in the kitchen
Amid the high unemployment following 9/11, when Jamie Bordoshuk lost his job and became a stay-at-home dad, he discovered a love for cooking and teaching. Over the years that passion has grown to include not only preparing daily meals for his family of four but catering a friend's cocktail party for 65.
The Naperville father of two teens has taught classes at a local cookware store and has stepped in as "personal chef" for friends hosting dinner parties at their homes.
For three months he gave weekly cooking lessons to a new mom and neighbor taking a break from her high-powered banking job to stay at home.
"After my division shut down I decided to take a year off," says Jamie. "After the year my wife told me, 'I don't like you going to work.'"
So Jamie stayed home and started to play around in the kitchen, tinkering with recipes and inventing dishes. To learn more he volunteered to help chefs doing demos at Sur La Table in Naperville. "I picked up a lot from observing; it didn't seem that intimidating after a while," he says.
He graduated from observer to teacher, confident enough to lead classes there for a couple of years.
"I like teaching people to cook with basic ingredients using simple recipes," he says.
Jamie enjoys entertaining at home, too, especially when he's taking on a challenging project that demands some hustle.
"Last Thanksgiving I made eggs Benedict for 19," he says. "It was chaotic. It's hard to make that dish for more than three or four.
"My daughter was running plates back and forth at 3½-minute intervals. It was a lot of fun."
After four years of working in a gourmet cookware store Jamie's kitchen is well-stocked with All-Clad pots and pans and Le Creuset Dutch ovens.
"I have a Shun knife that's the best present I ever got," he says. "The D-shaped handle fits the contour of my hand."
In his food processor he makes dressings, like honey-mustard or Asian ginger/soy, for the family's nightly salad. He runs through yards of parchment paper drawing chocolate designs on it for garnishing bowls of ice cream: spiders for Halloween, snow flakes for Christmas.
In today's recipes he suggests lining baking sheets with it for easy cleanup after Pretzel Pork Chops and Panko-crusted Chicken Breasts.
The first dish was created in a moment of "necessity is the mother of invention."
"I didn't have any panko (Japanese bread crumbs) in the house, just pretzels, so I ground them up and it came out great," he says. "It's my son's favorite meal."
The latter recipe turns a piece of chicken into "a really wow entertaining meal," he says. With it he serves slender haricot verts with shallots and lemon and a Greek orzo salad with feta, dill and black olives in red wine vinaigrette.
His double-crust Italian Pie is a cross between deep-dish pizza and lasagna, so hearty that no one will leave the table hungry.
Jamie would like to convince everyone that cooking at home is the new eating out.
"Especially in this economy, you make restaurant meals at home for a third of the price," he says.