Gourmet meals with Chef Dodd

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 22, 2007

DEMOPOLIS &8212; On a week day afternoon in the fellowship hall of the First Presbyterian Church, a single plate accompanied with crisp white napkins holds a meal of smothered peppered chicken with provolone cheese on a bed of red roasted potatoes with leek and garlic in a white-wine mushroom sauce with ratatouille, all arranged with a tomato rose on top.

The meal, a feast for the eyes and the stomach, was prepared by the culinary prowess of Dodd Orten, a chef with more than 40 years experience. Most recently he lent his skills to the congregation of the First Presbyterian Church by making gourmet meals during their 10 Great Dates program, a 10-week program of fellowship, which served Orten&8217;s dinners after Wednesday night services.

Originally from Greenville, Tenn., Orten has been all over the world as both a chef and a traveler. Most recently, he and his wife, Lynette, stationed themselves in the Demopolis Yacht Basin on their 37-foot Gulfstar sailboat.

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Hurricane Katrina interrupted their plans of continuing on down to the coast, and they have recently become residents of Linden, after living on their boat in Demopolis for the last two years.

When asked how he became a chef, Orten said he planned to have a different career entirely.

He quickly discovered, however, his path was meant to go elsewhere.

Orten first studied at the Chicago Culinary Arts, where he graduated in 1954. He worked with the Hilton Hotel chain for 30 years in places like Istanbul, Turkey and Stockholm, Sweden. While in Sweden, he attended the Swedish Hotel School.

He returned to the states and continued to work with Hilton franchises in Daytona Beach, Fla.; Atlanta, Ga.; Knoxville, Tenn. and Boston, Mass.

One of his longest tenures as chef was with the Whitestone Country Inn in Paint Rock, Tenn., where he authored the &8220;Whitestone Cook Book,&8221; featuring all of his original recipes.

Orten has also had his own restaurants, including a venture with a partner in Gatlinburg, Tenn. known as The Southerner.

Orten said it was too much stress to try to run a restaurant, so after two years the restaurant closed.

Despite the restaurant&8217;s closing, Orten continued to be successful. In 1972, he was recognized as one of the top 25 chefs in America when he entered an American Chef&8217;s Association Food Show Contest in Baltimore, Md.

Although he has been exposed to some of the industry&8217;s best, Orten said his reason for staying in the business so long is because of the personal enjoyment he gets from people eating his food.

Orten said he has always held a very practical reason for being in the business as well.

Since becoming a permanent resident of the area two years ago, Orten has become involved with several local projects.

One day Orten noticed a sign just north of Demopolis for fresh shrimp and was interested in getting some to cook with. After discovering that the co-owner of the Greene Prairie Aquafarm where he saw the sign was David Coddington, a member of the First Presbyterian Church where Orten attended services, he was asked to come on board to lend his expertise to the farm.

Orten said it doesn&8217;t take extraordinary talent to have the success he has had as a chef.

From the Whitestone Cook Book:

.Pork Boudreaux

Demi glace:

1 Tablespoon butter, melted

1 Tablespoon flour

2 cups veal or beef stock

Make roux with butter and flour. Let it get dark. Add stock and cook until it thickens.

First pound pork medallions until they are 3 to 4 inches in diameter, Heat butter in saut/ pan.

6 ounces pork tenderloin, cut into medallions

1 ounce butter

flour for dredging

1 pinch Cajun spice

1/2 ounce brandy

green, red and yellow peppers, cut into strips

1/2 cup demi glace

1/2 cup pork stock

Dredge pork in flour and shake off excess. Place pork in pan; add spice and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn and cook 1 to 2 minutes.

Deglaze pan with brandy. Add peppers and cook one minute. Add pork, pork stock and demi glace. Simmer 3 to 4 minutes.

Vermont Cheese Soup

2 sticks butter

3/4 cup onions, diced

3/4 cup celery diced

3/4 cup carrots, diced

1/2 cup green peppers, diced

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 quarts hot water

3 ounces chicken base

4 ounces American cheese, diced

8 ounces Cheddar cheese

2 cups half and half

In a heavy pot over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in onions, celery, carrots and green peppers. Saut/ 5 to 6 minutes.

Add flour. Stir constantly over heat until well blended.

Add the hot water and chicken base. Simmer for about 7 minutes.

Add cheese and half and half and cook until cheese melts. Serve hot. Garnish with thin strips of green pepper.

Pork Piccata

1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

1 large garlic clove, minced

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 chicken stock

3 Tablespoons capers

1 lemon, zest and juice

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped

Thinly slice the pork and pound lightly. Combine the flour, salt and pepper and dredge pork through flour mixture.

In a skillet heat the olive oil and cook pork on both sides until browned. Do not overcook.

Remove from pan and keep pork warm.

For the sauce, pour off the oil in skillet. Add garlic and mushrooms.

Saute for two minutes, stirring often.

Add wine and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce mixture to 1/2 cup; this takes about 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir in capers, lemon zest and juice. Return to a boil. Slowly stir in butter and parsley and cook until sauce is thick and creamy.

To serve, dip the pork into the sauce and arrange on a plate in a fan-like pattern.

Spoon some sauce over the plated pork.

Note: Substitute veal, turkey or chicken in place of the pork.