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By their own hands

Five local chefs share their after-hours indulgences.

photos by Micah Beree & words by Abby Cymerman

When you come home from a long day at work, what kind of meal do you cook for yourself? If you’re part of a family, it could be something elaborate or something easy, something fresh or something that resembles leftovers. If you’re cooking just for yourself, dinner could be a grand culinary expression or it could be a pizza made with grocery-store salad bar fixings. Or, it could just be lo mein eaten straight out of the white waxy carton. No matter who you are and how you live, food means survival, and we’ve asked five of the area’s most creative chefs what they cook for themselves when they’re off the clock. Chef Angus O’Hara of The Galaxy Restaurant and his Pasta Carbonara with linguine, bacon, Romano and Parmesan cheeses, cracked black pepper and egg. Page 40 36

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Chef Sherry Schie Shy Cellars, Strasburg

Prima-Puttanesca “It’s filled with fresh vegetables, then anchovies, capers and olives, and finally, homemade pasta and lots of fresh grated parmesan cheese.” Sherry Schie’s mother hated to cook, so as a child, Schie spent time in the kitchen with her grandmother and her Amish neighbor. After marriage, she worked for 20 years in retail, five years at her church, and then pursued a third career by studying at the International Culinary Arts & Science Institute in Chesterland. “Life is like riding a surfboard,” she says. “Paddle hard and always be ready for the big one, and enjoy the ride.” When was the first time you prepared this dish for yourself?

SS: I was craving anchovies but I didn’t want just a Puttanesca sauce, I wanted veggies in it. So, I opened up my refrigerator and pantry and started throwing things together. That’s how I always come up with my best dishes. Do you serve this dish in your restaurant?

SS: Occasionally, but that’s because we change our menu almost every day. What is it about this dish that keeps you coming back?

SS: It’s what I call a “clean dish.” It’s filled with fresh vegetables and good-for-you things, nothing artificial. Plus, this is one of those dishes you can whip together in no time and use whatever veggies you have. 38

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Chef Angus O’Hara Pasta Carbonara with linguine, bacon, Romano and Parmesan cheeses, cracked black pepper and egg As a child, Angus O’Hara helped his mother and grandmother in the kitchen by grating cheese or making toast. Then, during third-grade Career Day, he said he wanted to be a chef. “The teachers didn’t know exactly what to do about that so I was taken to a local restaurant and allowed to watch a lunch service in the kitchen,” he says. “I was hooked from that point forward.” What is it about this dish that keeps you coming back?

AO: It’s the ultimate comfort food, and it can be modified to fit

Chef J.R. Hobbs

The Galaxy Restaurant, Wadsworth

The Office Bistro, Akron

your mood. If you feel like spicy, you can add more pepper, red pepper flakes or some chilies. If you feel like a heartier meal, you can add more bacon, sausage or fish. When was the last time you made this for yourself?

AO: Last night. [After this photo shoot,] I described it to a large table in the Circle L Steakhouse (at The Galaxy) and, of course, they wanted to try it. After I made it for them, I made it for myself and the cooks working the front line. It was a hit. Do you serve this dish in your restaurant?

AO: After last night’s success, I will seriously consider putting it on the winter menu. Since we do so much “al minute” cooking already, it’s not a problem to make this for anyone who requests it.

Grilled barbeque pork shanks and lobster tail over a salad Although Chef J.R. Hobbs has been cooking for 22 years, he first learned about cooking by working with his mother in the kitchen. He attended the Culinary Institute of America and then apprenticed under Chef Curtis Eargle at the historic Maryland Club in Baltimore. “Chef Spike Gjerde, of the Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore, expressed that anything is achievable with ingenuity and the right attitude,” he says. When was the first time you prepared this dish for yourself?

JRH: Last summer for my wife’s birthday. Kathy enjoys seafood, and I enjoy meat, so it’s a happy medium for dinner in our family. When was the last time you made this for yourself?

JRH: I made it for our Labor Day party on the lakes. Do you serve this dish in your restaurant?

JRH: We offer it occasionally on our seasonal specialty menu. What is it about this dish that keeps you coming back?

JRH: On my day off, I enjoy getting out of the kitchen and grilling outside on a nice day with my family. 40

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Chef Austin Stewart Lager & Vine, Hudson

A seared scallop with a mango shrimp ceviche, fresh avocado and red chili oil. Chef Stewart calls himself a “self-taught chef ” whose biggest culinary influence is his mom. He never went to culinary school and, instead, put himself through college working in restaurant kitchens. “Running a great kitchen is a rush,” he says. “Most chefs are just adrenaline junkies, and the life of a chef keeps you coming back no matter the hours.” When it comes to his favorite meal of the day, the terms “breakfast, lunch and dinner” don’t really apply to him. “It’s more or less when I can find downtime in a 15-hour-day to whip something simple up for myself,” he says. When was the first time you prepared this dish?

AS: It was part of a fourcourse wine dinner we held as a charity event for a cancer survivor at Lager & Vine. When was the last time you made this for yourself?

AS: The last time I actually made this dish was about two weeks ago. As it gets cooler, it’s getting hard here to find good avocados. What is it about this dish that keeps you coming back?

AS: It has very simple flavors yet when plated all together, it has a wealth of contrast and complements in those flavors. 42

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Grilled porterhouse with seasonal vegetables, including corn, portobello mushrooms, block peppers, tomato, zucchini and baby bok choy

Chef Beau Schmidt Beau’s Grille, Akron

Being a chef is what Beau Schmidt was meant to do, and although he’s been cooking for 35 years “really it feels like my entire life,” he says. Schmidt trained under worldclass Chef Brendan Murphy, but as a child, he cooked alongside his family. “My grandmother made the best pancakes and potato soup, and I would help her,” he says. “I quickly memorized all the ingredients and got them out for her whenever she was making them. I loved it.” When was the first time you prepared this dish for yourself?

BS: I’ve been enjoying this dish for so many years that I truly can’t remember. What is it about this dish that keeps you coming back?

BS: I don’t order steak out very often, so I enjoy cooking a great steak at home and pairing it with some delicious sides. I normally select a cut with a little fat like a strip or rib-eye. Do you serve this dish in your restaurant?

BS: We have different variations of this dish all year long. It’s always one of the more popular dishes on our menu. / Managing editor Abby Cymerman would be happy to have the same relaxing meal every night: a glass of merlot, glutenfree baguette, Drunken Goat cheese, olives and grapes. But she’s got a family, so relaxation rarely Comments? Email them to managing editor Abby Cymerman at acymerman@bakermediagroup.com. happens. 44

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By Their Own Hands [spreads]