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Recipe by David Warner, executive chef, JRDN Restaurant

I always wanted to be a rock star. Cooking was the last thing on my list. As a kid, I couldn’t cook. I would burn water. But then in high school I needed a job and my cousin Mike hired me on at a tavern. He needed a line cook and a dishwasher. I asked him who got paid more and he said line cooks, so that’s what I picked. At first it was a disaster. But then I learned how to make chicken wings and bar food. Pretty soon, I mastered just about everything, and I wanted to learn more. I went to another place, a nicer restaurant called the Pelican Club in Cape May [New Jersey], and after that, things took off.

I have always been given a lot of freedom in the kitchen. Even as a line cook, I was able to design specials and just run with them. I started as an executive chef two years ago when I was only 27, and now I get to try a lot of new things. We change the menu about three times a year and no one really says no to me. We also do chef tasting menus and are doing some wine pairing menus. That’s my new stepping stone: making a dish that not only tastes good but that specifically complements a given wine. Two summers ago I did a dish for fun that ended up being featured in Plate Magazine. I made a pork belly appetizer with braised pork belly, sautéed pea vines, and chunks of roasted butternut squash. Having a fancy restaurant on the beach, no one really thinks about doing pork belly, but it was a hit. One guy comes out to JRDN from Arizona and he keeps asking me when I’m going to put that back on the menu.

I have a bunch of guy roommates, so when I’m not working we eat a lot of burritos, calzones, and Hot Pockets. I like to go out and hang with the boys or go surfing. After a long night at the restaurant we’ll go out to the taco shop. I also love anything I can put in a crock pot. For the time it takes, the outcome is amazing. My roommates and I also do a lot of barbecues. I got spoiled with the meat we use at work — like cuts from Meyer Ranch, so when I put a meat order in for work, I often put a separate order in for myself. I love skirt steaks and rib eyes and cook them up with easy side dishes like roasted corn or corn bread. We go out too for a treat. I love Chloe’s and Third Corner. It’s good to support the local restaurants, and if they style you out, it’s even better. Eventually I’d like to own my own place, but right now I’m keeping my bosses happy and keeping myself happy.

INGREDIENTS

1 lb butter, softened
kernels from 6 ears of corn
1/2 yellow onion
6 whole eggs
14 oz. sweet condensed milk
1-1/2 c. sugar
2 c. rice flour
1 T baking powder

HOW TO DO IT

Set butter out at room temperature for an hour. When butter is soft, preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8”x10” baking pan. Using a blender, blend the corn kernels, onion, and eggs until smooth. Add the condensed milk and butter and blend. In a separate bowl, mix sugar, flour, and baking powder together. Add the dry ingredients to the corn mixture and mix until smooth. Pour into a greased pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool a few minutes, cut and serve.

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