'The Chef' is more than a mythical figment of my imagination. While becoming a regular at 'The Chef's Corner' in Naperville, we became good friends. The friendship started on our love for the game of basketball spilling over to ethnic culinary arts.  We stay in touch by having him pass on the recipes that I became accustomed to eating while visiting his restaurant.

My apologies again to those that want a conclusion to the Drazen Petrovic story (bitterac) , but that is going to have to wait again. Chef and I have been talking about fish recently.  Our discussions have been around what kinds of fish and the availability of Whole Food's fish selection. I was surprised to hear that you do not necessarily need to purchase the most expensive fish to have a great meal. Trout is routinely under $8 a pound. Any fish with the head, skin with some bones will taste simply amazing if cooked properly and seasoned properly. Honestly butterflied trout needs minimal seasoning (salt & pepper is just fine) but the following concoction will do just fine with any fish. 

The picture included in this post is my attempt at trout pan fry. Covered on medium high heat, this will be cooked in less than five minutes. It is taking some practice, but my goal is to make the skin crispy but not burned. *edit* Spoon the sauce over the fish while in the pan then cover and cook.

The beauty of this recipe is that for less than $15 you will have a meal that is on par with visiting a French restaurant. (which just so happens to be where I first had trout prepared like this)

Chef's Fish Sauce

There is not much to this mixture but keep in mind that you do not have to use all the sauce at once. Try to keep it minimal and save the leftovers for the rest of the week. Keep the tomatoes fresh, and remember that putting the tomatoes in the fridge will lose their flavor. Typically, I am not chopping the tomato and simply cutting cherry tomatoes in half. The olive oil does not need to be expensive either. I'm using a big tin of Greek olive oil that cost me around $20. 

  • 1/2 cup extra. virgin olive oil
  • 1 ripe tomato diced
  • 1 tbsp diced onion
  • 1 tbsp small capers
  • 2 tbsp chopped basil
  • 1 tbsp chopped black olives
  • pulp of 1/4 lemon chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • roasted pine nuts[optional]


Vedad Vrselj calls Travnik home despite being forced out during the Bosnian War. His former restaurant in Naperville remains one of the most respected and highly reviewed eateries in the area winning awards for best burger and infuriated competition with better ingredients for less money (His yelp reviews). His cult following continues with catering to the Chicagoland area and stays in touch with his Facebook page.