Chef Dad

Randolph Man Develops His Passion

Steve Reynolds stirs a pot of Sausage Gravy in his East Randolph kitchen. The graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts works as a sous chef at Forte in downtown Jamestown. Photo by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

When Steve Reynolds helped his mother “whip up eggs and season flour for breading” as a kid when she was practicing some recipes for a new job as cook, he had no idea he would one day support a family with his culinary skills.

“If I got out of school early, she would take me to work with her”

Later, when he would make an occasional breakfast for the family, he never foresaw that cooking would become a passion or that he would one day work at a popular fine dining restaurant.

When he had no idea what he wanted to do after he left high school, his father suggested he look into culinary school. After the young man made the journey to Pittsburgh, Pa. to visit Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts, he found himself drawn in to what the school had to offer. For the first time he could see his future in the culinary industry. “I went for a visit and knew I had to go,” he says.

He enjoyed learning the proper way to prepare foods, safety procedures and everything that went along with his education, but was recharged and motivated when Chef Tal Ronnen, a well-known vegan chef who conducts master vegetarian workshops nationwide, did a presentation at his culinary school. This may have brought out a creative side of Reynolds he had not recognized earlier.

Steve Reynolds came up with this Sausage Gravy dish when his wife's family gathered for breakfast one Christmas. Photo by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

“He taught us that you can always create new things in the culinary world,” said Reynolds. “It was really culinary school that showed me I could mix certain things with others.”

He believes that the friends he made in his teen years, who were from Dominican and Puerto Rican families, influenced his taste in food, due to the many meals he shared at their tables.

Since his graduation, he has worked at Peek’n Peak in Clymer, Slopeside Grill in Ellicottville, and the Athenaeum Hotel on the grounds of Chautauqua Institution, where he worked as a line cook, lead line cook and finally receiving manager, before coming to his current position at Forte in Jamestown, where he has been sous chef for three and a half years.

He speaks highly of his boss, Margaret Kaltenmeier, the owner of Forte.

“She works right alongside of us. She can do it all,” he says. “Forte is a one of a kind experience for Jamestown. The wait staff doesn’t turn over. We make our own bread and rolls daily. You cannot find the style of cooking in these parts, (such as) Thai, French, Mexican, American, whatever you want.”

“It’s just a really innovative place. How can we make the dining experience in Jamestown flourish (is the goal)?”

Reynolds proudly states that Forte contributes one day’s profits to Choose Life of Jamestown every year.

“My dream is to either own my own restaurant or become a restaurant consultant to help struggling restaurants make changes to improve their profits.”

He is married to Nichole Reynolds, who has been attending cosmetology school and is expecting twins later this year.

“I love her with all my heart and I know God has destined her to be an amazing mom,” says her proud husband.

When she is not at school, the busy mom cares for their sons. Both six-year-old Owen and his 8-year-old brother, Christopher are typical, active boys, but they also love to wear dress cloths and can be seen in button-down collars, even while hanging out at home. Christopher takes it a step further by wearing a suit and tie nearly every day.

“He’s known as ‘the kid that wears a suit’ at church and everywhere,” his dad says while smiling. “He wants to be an architect. I’m sure he’ll be an entrepreneur.”

When he is not at the restaurant, the dad likes spending time with his family. He enjoys outdoor activities with golf being one and now has his boys involved in the sport.

“I came to Christ on the golf course,” he happily proclaims and tells how his neighbor played a role in his conversion. He with his wife and children attend Realife Church.

He enjoys grilling outside and walking the creek across from his house. Until a few years ago, he was in a band, but still likes to make music and sings and plays drums. He is a fan of Philadelphia Eagles and New Jersey Devils. His 10-year-old Beagle, Brownie, also has a piece of his heart.

The family is excited about an upcoming trip to Atlantic City, N.J., from where Reynolds hails. He has taken his wife there, but this will be the first trip for Christopher and Owen.

“It’s crazy how time moves. I’m definitely looking forward to the next step in life.”

All of the recipes submitted are Mr. Reynold’s original recipes.

“I came up with the sausage gravy recipe when my wife’s family wanted to have a breakfast together for Christmas.”

While visiting a friend in New Jersey he was told, “Hey, you’re a chef. How come you’ve never made me anything?” After Reynolds gave food options off the top of his head, his friend chose Sun-dried Tomato Garlic White Wine Chicken and Rice. He put the recipe together, went to the store for the ingredients and then made a dish that proved to his friend he really could cook.

Forte is located at 114 E. Third St., Jamestown, New York.

“Unconventional” Chicken Cordon Bleu

6 chicken breasts

1/2 lb sliced Swiss cheese

1/2 lb sliced ham

1 dozen eggs

4 c seasoned flour

2 qts seasoned breadcrumb

3/4 gal cream of mushroom soup

1/2 c milk

12 small skewers

Pound chicken until flat. Place a slice of cheese and ham in the center. Tightly roll chicken breast from bottom to top. Skewer each end to hold position. Cut off excess skewer. Set up a standard breading procedure to bread each piece of chicken. In a crockpot add a layer of the soup. Place chicken in crockpot. Add remaining soup. Add milk and turn on high heat for 1 1/2 hours. Stir soup and then turn to low heat for an additional 2 hours or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165∂ F. Remove skewers and serve.

Steak Parmesan

1lb sirloin

1/2 box angel hair pasta

1 jar spaghetti sauce

1 c seasoned flour

1/2 c shredded mozzarella

1/4 c shredded parmesan

Pre-heat oven to 375∂ F. Fill large pot with water, bring to a boil and cook pasta until al dente. Strain and cool noodles, coat with oil and toss around when cool. Pound sirloin until thin and then dredge in flour. Lightly coat medium saute pan oil and then set on medium-high heat. When pan is hot, sear coated steak until brown. Place meat in oven safe dish. In a small saucepot, bring sauce to a simmer. Cover steak with sauce and then sprinkle cheeses over. Place in oven for 5 minutes. Place noodles on a plate. Cover with the sauce. Place steak on top and serve.

Sausage Gravy

1lb mushroom, small dice

1 white onion, small dice

2 lb breakfast sausage

1 gal milk

1 c flour

salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, cook sausage, onion, mushroom on medium heat until sausage is brown and finely broken up. Remove from heat and add flour until a wet sand like consistency forms. Add milk and return to heat until it comes to a boil, stirring frequently to ensure flour doesn’t stick and burn. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer until flour taste is gone, add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over biscuits or potatoes.

Cheesesteak Soup

1 Spanish onion, small dice

1/2 lb mushroom, small dice

1 red pepper, small dice

1 lb shaved sirloin

2 cloves garlic chopped

2 qts heavy cream

1 c shredded mozzarella

salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, sweat vegetables on medium heat. Add sirloin, cooking until done. Add heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Slowly whisk cheese in until fully incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

1lb cream cheese

1/2 c mozzarella, shredded

1/2 c Monterey jack-cheddar cheese mix

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 handful fresh spinach

1 small can artichokes

salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 350∂F. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Place dip in baking dish in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Enjoy with tortilla chips or fresh bread.

Sundried Tomato White Wine Chicken and Rice

1 Spanish onion

3 cloves garlic, chopped (divided)

2 c brown rice

2 c chicken broth

6 to 8 chicken thighs

salt and pepper to taste

3 T chopped sundried tomato

2 c white wine

1/2 stick butter

Preheat oven to 375∂ F. In medium saucepot, sweat onions with half of the chopped garlic in 1 T butter on medium low heat. Once the onions are translucent, add rice and stir for 30 seconds. Add chicken broth, top with lid and place in oven for 15 minutes or until rice is tender. Do not stir once in the oven. Fluff rice with a fork when done. Coat large saute pan with oil and then place on medium heat. Salt and pepper chicken. When pan is hot, sear chicken until brown on both sides. Place on oven safe baking sheet and place in oven for 15 minutes or until chicken reads 165∂ F internally. Remove oil from pan and remove pan from heat. Add white wine, the rest of the garlic and sundried tomato. Reduce by 1/4 and then remove from heat. Add chunks of butter and whisk until smooth. Place chicken on rice. Pour sauce over chicken.

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