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Career chef creates menus at Legends

T-R PHOTOS BY LANA BRADSTREAM Chad Tiller, head chef at Legends American Grill, laughs with some customers who are big fans of his culinary creations.

The chef behind the food at Legends American Grill in Marshalltown not only creates legendary dishes but also a fun and friendly atmosphere for customers and staff.

Chad Tiller, 40, navigates a large kitchen in the back of the restaurant as easily as he creates menus or interacts with his devoted eaters.

Working with food just comes naturally to him.

“Growing up at the family get-togethers, instead of going off with the guys I stayed in the kitchen with the women,” Tiller said. “In high school my first real job was in a restaurant in the kitchen. It was a small diner. I loved it. From there, I tried other things but I was always drawn back to a restaurant.”

It is where he feels most comfortable and where Tiller can flex his creative culinary muscles.

Adding some heat in the form of fire to fajita filling.

Some of the Legends menu that are entirely his are ones that have “Sweet Heat Habanero” in the name. There is a chicken salad, a wrap and a burger. What makes these items exclusive to Legends is the sauce. Not only does Tiller mix it together, but he created his own pickling recipe for the onions used in the sauce.

“I want to make somebody go, ‘Oh my gosh,'” he said. “I love the enjoyment that comes out of people like it’s the best thing they’ve ever had.”

Some of the chicken wings Tiller makes and the sauces he creates have inspired such reactions. He said customers have tried other restaurants famous for their wings and insist on returning to Legends in Marshalltown..

“They are my recipes and I make the hottest sauce,” Tiller said. “It’s ridiculously hot. People love it.”

One of the most popular sections of the menu is something he really wanted to bring to Marshalltown – a “Build Your Own Burger.” There is a large variety of how people can create that perfect, juicy bite they are looking for. Sauces range from Tiller’s “Mango Habanero” to ranch and toppings can include sliced pineapple, Tiller’s “Sweet Heat Onions” and more. Want to add some extra protein such as crab or corned beef to the burger? Those are available, too.

T-R PHOTO BY LANA BRADSTREAM Chad Tiller, head chef at Legends American Grill in Marshalltown, chops a pineapple.

Tiller gets inspiration for the menu from talking to people, watching Food Network and traveling.

“I like to go where I can’t eat here,” he said. “I want to go to small restaurants and get some of their things. It gives me ideas.”

Not all of the ideas are home runs, though. Tiller put a turkey roulade on the menu, which would have been a flattened piece of turkey and some filling rolled up into a spiral. It was not a big hit with customers. Tiller said it was because it was too unknown.

He does not delve into baking often.

“I am a protein guy,” Tiller said. “I personally do not shy away from red meat.”

Wings at Legends, made by Tiller.

Nor does he shy away from cooking-related injuries.

Tiller has accidentally set himself on fire twice, poured boiling water on his foot and cut the end of his finger off.

“Alaskan fishermen have nothing on me,” he said. “Accidents happen but I would rather they happen to me than to one of the guys.”

Tiller was unable to share any of the recipes he has created for Legends. However, he did manage to share some of his personal recipes he uses at home.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS Legends prime rib.

Beer Cheese Potato Soup

3 cups milk

1 cup water

1 cup beer of your liking. Tiller prefers a dark beer.

1/2 cup sour cream

A sandwich of Tiller’s creation.

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup goat cheese

2-3 medium potatoes, quartered and sliced

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 cup diced celery

1 tablespoon black pepper

1/2 tablespoon salt

1/2 tablespoon celery salt

Put all ingredients in a slow cooker on medium heat for 5 – 6 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve with oyster crackers.

Bacon Mushroom Green Beans

1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, snapped and halved

8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms

1/2 pound raw bacon cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Saute bacon pieces in a skillet on medium heat. Add mushrooms and green beans. Season with salt, pepper and garlic. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook 10 min or until tender.

Whiskey Pork Chops

4 bone-in pork chops

1 pound sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup diced onion

1 1/2 cups water

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup whiskey

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon thyme

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Saute pork chops five minutes each side or until golden brown. Remove from pan and place into a 9×13 baking pan. Add mushroom and onion to skillet and saute until tender. Reduce heat to simmer and add whiskey. In a separate bowl mix thoroughly sour cream, water, flour, salt, pepper, garlic and thyme. Slowly add to mushroom and onions while stirring. Pour mixture over pork chops. Cover pan with foil and bake for one hour. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Legends tacos.

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