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Chef Jeremy Grandon, chef/owner of Yardbird Smoked Meats restaurant in Keego Harbor, became interested in cooking when he was just 9 or 10-years-old.

“I would watch chefs on TV, especially the Chinese and Italian ones, and then I would try to copy them,” the West Bloomfield resident says. “I think I always liked cooking because it was something I was good at.”

And although he already knew when he was in high school that he wanted to end up being a chef, Grandon decided it would be good to have a college degree, as well. So, after graduating from Andover High School in Bloomfield Hills, he enrolled at the University of Michigan, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in economics.

After working for a summer as a line cook at Palio restaurant in Ann Arbor, the chef attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York, earning an associate degree in 1998.

After graduation, Grandon moved back to the Detroit area and worked for the next five years at Tribute Restaurant under the tutelage of award-winning chef, Takashi Yagihashi,

the owner of the Slurping Turtle restaurants in Ann Arbor and Chicago.

“At Tribute, I worked through the whole kitchen … all the stations except dessert. It was great experience because it was the best restaurant around then,” Grandon says.

In 2003, soon after leaving Tribute, Grandon opened his own restaurant, Jeremy, in Keego Harbor. Then, in 2014, he decided to transition Jeremy into the Yardbird because “fine dining doesn’t work anymore,” said Grandon, 41. “People today still want good food, but they want something casual. They don’t want to dress up and pay a lot of money for food or a bottle of wine.”

The chef says he enjoys cooking at home for himself and his wife, Paula, on his days off. “I particularly enjoy the Mediterranean flavors of this bronzini recipe,” he says. “It’s what I call a one-pot wonder.”

And he’s also fond of the warm spinach salad.

“Cooking its ingredients makes it more hearty and especially good to eat in the winter,” he says.

Warm Spinach Salad with Grilled Red Onion,

Portobellos and Butternut Squash

1/2 a butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/4 inch slices

1 small red onion, sliced 1/2 inch thick

1/2 pound portobello caps, gills removed and quartered

1 pound baby spinach

1 recipe mustard dressing (recipe follows)

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1/4 cup cheddar cheese, cut into chunks

Place 3 tablespoons cooking oil into a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the squash into the skillet in one even layer. Allow the squash to brown then turn onto other side. Once all squash is turned, lay red onion slices and Portobello quarters over the squash and place the skillet into a 400 degree oven. Roast for 7-10 minutes or until onions are wilted and squash is tender and mushrooms are cooked. Place spinach in a large bowl. Once vegetables are tender, remove them from the oven and season them with 2-3 tablespoons of the mustard dressing to taste. Immediately add them to the spinach with another tablespoon of the dressing and toss to combine. Mound onto a serving platter and garnish with the cheese and the walnuts. Serves 4.

Honey Mustard Dressing

1/4 cup White Wine Vinegar

1 cup canola, grapeseed or Olive Oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons grainy mustard

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon salt

Mix the salt, vinegar honey and both mustards in a small bowl. Do this with a whisk to thoroughly dissolve everything together. Whisk in the oil to finish. You can use one or a combination of the different oils. Use this vinaigrette on salads, vegetables or on grilled meat or fish.

Per serving: 796 calories; 78 g fat (7 g saturated fat; 88 percent calories from fat); 24 g carbohydrates; 13 g sugar; 8 mg cholesterol; 918 mg sodium; 8 g protein; 5 g fiber.

Broiled Bronzini with Cherry Tomatoes

8 Bronzini filets

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

2 cloves garlic, slice very thin

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup Kalamata (or other kinds of olives) sliced

2 green zucchini, sliced into 1/8 inch thick rounds

1 shallot, peeled and sliced very thin

Thyme picked from four sprigs

1/4 cup clam juice

2 tablespoons fresh oregano

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Smear 2 tablespoons of the olive oil onto a sheet tray. Place the filets flesh side up over the oil. Season to taste with some salt, the Italian seasoning and the granulated garlic. Then scatter the sliced garlic cloves, cherry tomatoes, olives, shallots, thyme and zucchini rounds over the fish and around the tray in an even layer. Drizzle the clam juice over the fish and onto the tray. Drizzle 2 more tablespoons olive oil over the fish. Broil on medium high until the tomatoes and zucchini soften and the fish is cooked through, about 7-8 minutes. Place the filets onto a serving tray and garnish with the vegetables and juices from the sheet tray. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the fish, as well as the lemon juice and garnish with the oregano. Serves 4.

Per serving: 459 calories; 27 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 53 percent calories from fat); 11 g carbohydrates; 6 g sugar; 90 mg cholesterol; 356 mg sodium; 43 g protein; 3 g fiber.

Free Form Winter Fruit Tart

The dough

2 1/3 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

2 sticks cold butter, diced

3 tablespoons sour cream

1/3 cup ice water

Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1/4 cup milk)

To pepare the dough:

Place flour, sugar and salt into a food processor. Sprinkle the butter over it and pulse until a coarse meal is formed. Sprinkle the sour cream over the flour. Add the water a little bit at a time with the machine running to form a dough. (You may not need all the water.) Place the dough into plastic wrap and chill for 4 hours.

The tart filling

1 pound pears, unripe, peeled, pitted, seeded and sliced into wedges

12 kumquats, sliced 1/8 thick and seeded

1 cup cranberries

3/4 cup coarse white sugar, divided

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Cornmeal

To prepare the filling

Mix the pears, cranberries, and kumquats in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar and the cornstarch and mix well.

Roll out the dough into a 1/4 inch thick circle. Place the dough circle over a parchment lined sheet tray that has been sprinkled lightly with the cornmeal. Place the fruit over the dough, leaving a 2-3 inch border. Fold the border of dough up and over the fruit, pleating as you go, leaving most of the fruit exposed in the center. Brush the dough with egg wash (one egg beaten with 1/4 cup milk) and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of coarse sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Cool slightly before cutting. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream. Serves 6.

Per serving: 665 calories; 34 g fat (21 g saturated fat; 46 percent calories from fat); 85 g carbohydrates; 38 g sugar; 116 mg cholesterol; 656 mg sodium; 8 g protein; 7 g fiber.

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