September 21, 2017
Hot off a finalist finish on The Next Food Network Star, Louisiana chef Cory Bahr wants to use his celebrity to spotlight the best of what’s around everyone’s kitchen – not just what you see on TV.
“I don’t think of myself as the chef from television,” said the down to earth southern born Bahr. “These shows and awards and all that, they don’t validate whether I can cook or not, they actually add a lot more responsibility to my plate. But what they also do is give my voice a bigger audience and if that means helping more people figure out how to eat well, then it’s worth it.”
Raised in Monroe, Bahr learned southern cooking from two of the best lay cooks in the Delta – his grandparents. “We were cooking all the time,” he said. “I remember my grandpa would bring home a bunch of fresh caught fish and a sack of oysters. He taught me to love those.”
In fact, Bahr said he would pick a cold beer and raw oysters for his last meal. “You know I used to feel like I had to show off everything I could do, all the fancy techniques and combinations when I sent out a plate, but now I just want to prepare the best, freshest ingredients I can get and let them do the talking.”
He said the caliber and collection of the oysters served up at the Oyster Cook-Off also speaks volumes about this fan favorite event. “The last time I was there we sampled like 40 different types of oysters, from all over the country. It’s not something you could ever do on a single menu and it’s just incredible.”
The Food Network’s “Chopped!” champion and Food & Wine’s “People’s Best New Chef” will be demonstrating some of what makes his Heritage Catering so loved in Monroe. Dishes like Fennel Orange Bread Pudding and Lobster Veloute may be easy fare for a talent like Bahr but don’t let the fancy cooking fool you. He seems like he might be just as happy in the woods as he is in front of the camera.
“The hardest part of eating great is access to good food.” Bahr said. “But you don’t have to shop somewhere expensive or trendy to make a good meal. Shop local, seasonal and sustainable as best you can. That’s the easiest way to make delicious food that’s good for you.”
He’s also a big believer in helping to make that “local” component easier for those who may not be able to afford it. Along with other boards and charities he’s been on, his latest project is helping to create gardens, including fruit trees, in empty city lots in his hometown for the community to use.
“Giving back is just as important as getting,” said Bahr. “Plus, eat better, live longer.”
Bahr shares his Delta inspired fare during chef demos Saturday, November 4.