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Chefs' spotlight: Cory Bahr

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Cory Bahr, 37, is the chef-owner of Restaurant Cotton, located in his hometown Monroe, La. There he specializes in the cuisine of the North Delta, which he describes simply as "things that I love." More specifically, he characterizes it as "progressive Southern food" which translates to his approach: He begins with the traditional dishes and gives them his own twist, like with his Muscovy duck wraps with honey glaze, "inspired by my grandfather's duck camp cooking," all while paying homage to locally sourced ingredients like squash, onions, and black-eyed peas.

Self-taught from an early age, Bahr began waiting tables as a teenager and transitioned to the kitchen at a restaurant in Georgia. After a few years, Monroe called back to him with a position as chef at a country club, and later, a local couple asked him to open a restaurant. In 2007, he became executive chef at Restaurant Sage and was named "King of Louisiana Seafood" several years later.

The major turning point in Bahr's career came in 2012 when he opened Restaurant Cotton to critical acclaim. Six months later, he was asked to make an appearance on Food Network's "Chopped," where he swept away the competition. Still, despite his success, Bahr remains grounded. "Here in Monroe, we welcome good food, simple as that."

Recipes by Cory Bahr

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