Chef Cory Bahr doesn’t mince words when asked why people should dine at his restaurant, Restaurant Cotton
in Monroe, La.
“Our food is damn good.”
And this Monroe-native knows a little something about food. Bahr began his cooking
career as soon as he could stand at the stove, learning from his grandmother. After many years of intense education, he graduated from the “School of Grandmother’s Kitchen” where he was taught how to cook within the seasons with only what is fresh and good.
His skills, concepts and training came into fruition in 2011 when he battled against 12 other Louisiana chefs to win the coveted crown as the King of Louisiana Seafood. In the same year, he opened Restaurant Cotton and quickly he earned another title, "Chef to Watch" by Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine
Located downtown, Restaurant Cotton is housed in a historic cotton warehouse. It also happens to be the second-oldest building in the downtown area, and Bahr believes his restaurant is the cornerstone of the area’s revitalization.
When it comes to his dishes, he plays to his roots of good southern rural cooking to serve up “North Delta” fare.
“I prepare traditional local foods using modern techniques and modern presentations.”
He adds, “I do the job right and let the food speak for itself.”
Using fresh and locally sourced items, Restaurant Cotton’s menu
changes with the season. With the cooler weather, patrons will see more game dishes on the menu. Current items include Venison Chili, Venison Schnitzel that includes roasted local sweet potatoes, Rabbit Cassoulet that features local rabbit and Chanterelle sausage, and Niman Ranch Pork Cheeks. Bahr adds there is also a seasonal salad with persimmons and salt and pepper squash seeds.
As far as signature dishes goes, Bahr points to the North Delta Shrimp and Grits as “his dish.” He also talks about one other dish in which he says patrons might riot if it is ever taken off the menu.
“We have the Muscovy Duck Wraps, which is our take on duck camp food. It’s a grilled duck breast glazed with local honey.”
He tries to source as locally as possible.
“The restaurant is important to the area, and it is our job to be good stewards of the area.”
He adds it is also important to know where the food comes from.
“It’s a great thing to do and a great thing to know.”
Bahr was able to show off his creative culinary skills during season 12 of Chopped!
Creating such dishes as Corned Beef Hash with Truffle Oil
and Bread Pudding with Mint Sauce
, he had no problem wowing the judges and winning the competition.
Bahr admits the competition put his skills to the test, but he had a lot of fun.
“It was a great experience. Just a blast to do,” he says. “ It was just like being kitchen on a busy night and being under the gun. I treated each competition like that.”
photos courtesy of simoneink and Restaurant Cotton