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Cook's Corner

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Local chef donates meals to raise money for charity

E. Braun

– Eric Braun has a passion for food.

According to his biography, the Fort Wayne chef, 54, has been cooking since 1982. For the past 10 years, he has worked as a personal chef and owner of Kneedachef Personal Culinary Services.

Braun and his wife, Jennifer, have used their talents to raise money for about 20 charitable events a year across the state, including the Kidney Foundation, the Arthritis Foundation, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Fort Wayne Children’s Foundation and the Leukemia Society.

“We’ve raised over $78,000 for charities across the state by donating my signature seven-course dinner for four people, he says. “I have a personal connection with each of the charities.”

As for how long he will donate his time and talent to helping others, Braun says, “As long as I can hold a knife, I will continue to donate.”

In addition to raising money for charities, Braun has just completed his first e-cookbook, “Phenomenal Food.”

“The e-book is new. People are getting their pantries getting filled up (with cookbooks). They’re not meant to have books but food in the pantry,” he says adding, “(It) sells for $12.95 and you can buy it at my website, KneedAChef.com and at Olive Twist in Jefferson Pointe.”

Q. Did you cook much as a youngster?

A. We have four boys in the family but I was the only one interested in cooking. At about 7 years old, I started cooking soup in my mother’s kitchen. I opened up the cans of Campbell’s soup and began to add anything from the refrigerator I could find and lots of spices.

My parents, Charles R. and Sophia Braun, opened the Snow White Kitchen, on the corner of Creighton and Calhoun streets. … Every Sunday morning, Dad cooked, and he talked about plate presentation. From my mom I learned how to make comfort food. We spent many hours in the kitchen developing pastry recipes. We take great joy in that. We just came up with six different pastries two weeks ago.

Q. What’s something people would not find in your refrigerator?

A. Cauliflower. I hate it.

Q. Who would say is your cooking idol?

A. Professionally, I would have to say it’s one of the Iron Chefs. Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. I have one other, Gordon Ramsay. It’s the passion I like. He does a lot of charity.

Q. What’s your favorite meal?

A. My mother’s Sunday Yankee pot roast. … The whole house would become enamored with the smell of that roast. I’ll never forget it.

Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Corn Relish

1 bunch of fresh chard or spinach

6 tablespoons garlic infused rice wine vinegar

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons crushed garlic

6 medium-size sea scallops

Sprinkle of salt

Sprinkle of pepper

Heat pan to medium high heat. Place chard or spinach in pan. Sprinkle rice wine vinegar on chard and stir. Chard or spinach will reduce in size quickly. When reduced, keep on stove at warm setting. In a separate pan, heat to medium high heat olive oil and garlic. Place scallops in pan and lightly season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2 1/2 minutes on each side. They should be nice and golden brown on each side. While cooking, baste the scallops with olive oil and garlic. When done, remove from heat to begin plating. Plating: Use six small plates, preferably 6-inches in diameter and place reduced chard or spinach in the middle of each plate. Then place the sea scallops on top of the chard or spinach. Garnish with a small spoonful of corn relish. Makes 6 servings.

Corn Relish:

1/2 (15-ounce) can corn

1/4 bunch of chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup red onions finely diced

3 ounces parmesan cheese

1/4 cup real mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix all ingredients in a bowl; salt and pepper to taste. Save leftover and enjoy as a side dish. Recipe can be expanded to make it a side dish.

Cook’s Corner is a weekly feature. If you know of someone to be profiled, write to Cook’s Corner, The Journal Gazette, P.O. Box 88, Fort Wayne, IN 46801-0088; fax 461-8648 or email dparker@jg.net.

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