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Chef's Corner: Luis Ayllon, Cab's Bistro

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Chef's Corner: Luis Ayllon, Cab's Bistro

Our regular profile of one of the Fox Valley's outstanding chefs...including recipe!

As a youngster Chef Luis Ayllon first worked on and off in restaurants as either a bus boy or cook.  After high school, he attended college at Southern Illinois University from 1980 – 1982. However, other than meeting his future wife Lisa there, Luis still couldn’t decide what else he wanted to do with his life, so he returned home. 

It was then his mom suggested he circle back to the idea of cooking – except go to a school and really master the skill. Luis thought,” Why not, I enjoyed working in those first jobs, it’s kind of artsy, and I might actually like and be good at it.”

Chef-Luis-Ayllon.gifSo from there, Luis began his formal training at Dumas Pere Ecole de French Cuisine in Glenview, Illinois. After graduating in 1984, he extended his studies to the prestigious La Varenne Ecole De Cuisine in Paris, France, earning Intermediate, Advanced and Grand Diplomas. During this time, Luis also apprenticed at the Parisian restaurant “Le Grenadin”. After graduating in 1987 at the top of his class, he was destined for success.

Back in the United States, Luis honed his culinary skills at “Les Celebrites” the Hotel Nikko’s distinguished fine dining restaurant. It was there he really began to develop his specialty in sauces before moving to Bistro Banlieue, (in Lombard, Illinois) as Sous Chef in 1991. Luis eventually took over control as Chef in 1995 and raised the Bistro’s cuisine to an unequaled standard. The 1996 and 1997 Zagat surveys named Bistro Banlieue as the highest bistro in Chicago with “unparalleled Bistro cuisine” and “innovative dishes that inspire oohs and aahs”.  During his tenure at the Bistro Banlieue, Chef Luis won the Steele Winery’s “Catfish Cook-off”, an intense, yet friendly competition between ten of Chicago’s top chefs.

Luis moved and assumed control as Executive Chef at Cab’s Wine Bar bistro, in late 1997. In 2004 Luis and his wife Lisa bought the restaurant. 

Luis believes his biggest strengths are sauces, seafood, and game dishes. He also attributes that much the restaurant’s success to being lucky enough to having many, long term, talented employees.   

Luis and Lisa have two daughters, one grandson, and two dogs.

Roasted Lamb Chops with Pistachios and Honey/Dijon/Chile Glaze
Serves 4 – 6 people as an entree

1/4 cup honey
3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons Chile Paste -- (I use Sambal Oelek brand)
2 ¾ cups pistachio nuts -- finely chopped
2 racks of lamb -- (8 -9 bones each)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Optional Garnish: 2 oz. Goat Cheese, Chopped Parsely or other herbs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

~Chop the pistachios.
~To make the sauce: Mix the honey, Dijon Mustard, and Chile paste together in a bowl.
~Season the lamb on both sides with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
~Heat oil in a skillet until it begins to smoke.
~Put the lamb in the pan and cook over a medium flame until it is golden brown.
~Using tongs, flip the lamb racks spoon some a little of the sauce and sprinkle some pistachios over the top.
~Place the pan in the oven and cook for 10 - 12 minutes until medium rare (approximately 120 degrees). You can cook it more if you wish; medium rare is how I like it.
~Remove from the heat and let the lamb "rest" for 5 minutes before cutting the chops (this allows for a nice even red color in the meat for presentation sake).
~Cut the individual chops and arrange on plates, spooning the sauce and nuts over the top of each as you go.
~Spoon some extra sauce around the plate and serve.
~Optional -- If you wish, you can top the chops with fresh goat cheese and herbs (like I do).

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