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Jared Bobkin, the executive chef of Local Kitchen and Bar in Ferndale, says because his mother was an awful cook and his father’s grilling efforts left a lot to be desired, the family ate out a lot.

“But even though I always loved to eat out, I never thought about becoming a chef until several years after I graduated from Berkley High School,” said Bobkin, 30. “First I bummed around while figuring out if college was right for me, working in different trades including plumbing, heating, electrical and locksmithing in the daytime and playing poker at night.”

He a few challenges helped put his life into perspective. “And then when two of my friends wrote a cookbook and the movie ‘Ratatouille’ came out, I felt those were signs that I should pursue my love of food.”

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So Bobkin decided to enroll at the Art Institute in Novi and received his associate degree in Applied Sciences (focusing on culinary arts) in 2010. While there the chef says he “got his foot in the industry” by working at Max and Erma’s in Birmingham, first as a dishwasher, then as a line cook.

That job was followed by stints at Edgewood Country Club, the Birmingham Athletic Club, Grape Expectations, Joe Muer Seafood, Social and the Beverly Hills Grill.

In August of 2014, while working at the Beverly Hills Grill, Bobkin applied to be a contestant on Gordon Ramsay’s ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ show’s 15th season.

“Thousands applied; 18 were chosen and I was one of them,” he said.

He went through a lengthy interview process which occurred over 21/2 months. Then, once chosen, Jared flew to Los Angeles where he remained for the entire filming process.

“We were totally sequestered and there was no outside communication,” Bobkin said. “It was in October during the baseball playoffs. I was frustrated because I couldn’t find out how the Tigers were doing. But being a contestant was the most amazing experience of my life,” he said.

Spoilers: The finale will run Friday night. Bobkin gave a respectable showing; he placed fourth.

The Troy resident says his cooking has been greatly influenced by David Daniot, one of his instructors at the Art Institute who is currently the executive chef at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club.

“He taught me the basis for what I know…how to look at dishes differently and how to do competitions,” Bobkin said. “And Dave Payne, the sous chef at Edgewood Country Club, taught me how to be a workhorse and how to get a lot done.

Bobkin says he likes this sweet potato recipe because he “absolutely love potatoes but they are never substantial enough to hold me over for the next meal. So I decided to stuff them with bacon, kale and bleu cheese to solve that problem.”

Adds the chef: “My best friend is Korean and she introduced me to Bulgogi, one of Korea’s most popular beef dishes. But I decided to make my own version based on her recipe. She uses pre-made sauce; I make my own and it includes my secret ingredient: Sprite. That gives it a lemon/lime flavor and a little bit of lightness because the Sprite carbonates the marinade.”

And the Asparagus Risotto was chosen because “it’s one of those dishes people mess up because they use the wrong ratio of stock or liquid to the cheese. I wanted to show how easy it actually is to make,” he said.

Asparagus

Risotto

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 Spanish onions, chopped

2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

2 cups Arborio or sushi rice

1/4 cup white wine

8 cups vegetable or chicken broth

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Lemon zest

Sweat the onions until translucent. Add asparagus and saute for two to three minutes until slightly tender. Add the rice and gently toast, stirring for 1 min. Add white wine. In stages, add the stock just until the rice is barely covered. Stir continuously. When the liquid is almost evaporated, add more (do this in 3 stages.) Finish with butter and parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Zest lemon on the top. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 780 calories; 31 g fat (12 g saturated fat; 36 percent calories from fat); 102 g carbohydrates; 12 g sugar; 48 mg cholesterol; 1,506 mg sodium; 20 g protein; 7.5 g fiber.

Quick Bulgogi

1 pound flank steak , thinly sliced

5 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 cup sprite soda

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup green onion, chopped

2 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons sesame seed

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all the ingredients and allow to marinate for 6-8 hours. Remove steak from marinade and reserve the liquid. In a sauté pan, sear the steak on high heat for 1 minute each side. Bring the reserved marinade to a boil and thicken with a slurry (equal parts cornstarch and water). Serve with rice and sautéed bok choy or any other vegetable of your choice. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 820 calories; 48 g fat (17 g saturated fat; 53 percent calories from fat); 31 g carbohydrates; 19 g sugar; 160 mg cholesterol; 2,640 mg sodium; 66 g protein; 2 g fiber.

Stuffed Sweet

Potatoes

2 sweet potatoes

1 pound kale

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon chili flakes

1 pound bacon

3/4 cup blue cheese

1/2 cup toasted pistachios

Bake the sweet potato until done, about 1 hour. Saute kale until tender and then add lemon juice and chili flakes. Render bacon until desired doneness and then cut up into bite size pieces. Make a slit down the side of the potato so it opens up. Stuff the potato with kale and bacon and top with blue cheese. Put in the oven for 3 minutes just to allow cheese to melt. Garnish with pistachios and serve. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 984 calories; 63 g fat (22 g saturated fat; 58 percent calories from fat); 54 g carbohydrates; 12 g sugar; 126 mg cholesterol; 2,640 mg sodium; 56 g protein; 13 g fiber.

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