When Steve Taylor remembers summer camp, he doesn't recall poison ivy, archery or square knots. He thinks about making challah bread and blueberry pie for 300 people.
As a 13-year-old at the Episcopal Church camp his father directed in Charlton Depot, Mass., Mr. Taylor passed up canoeing and took to hanging around in the camp's kitchen, where as an "underchef" he first learned that quality is better than quantity.
He has been dedicated to serving outstanding food ever since.
"Quality and consistency are the hallmark of excellence," he says firmly.
Now, with 24 years of cooking experience under his belt, including classical training at the Culinary Institute of America and chef's positions at four-star restaurants around the country, this Fallston, Md., basement-waterproofing entrepreneur and father of four knows what it takes to cook something delicious.
That's why his renovated farmhouse kitchen has a six-burner gas range, double ovens and tons of counter space. He saves his commercial kitchen, which he built into one of his barns, for parties, weddings and major events.
"I like to cook dinner," says Mr. Taylor, who describes his style as "continental with a Swiss flair." He admits that he uses a lot of butter in his sauces, but doesn't seem to care. This chef, attentive to every detail and nuance of flavor, won't serve anything that doesn't taste good - healthful or not - although he refrains from making cream sauces too often.
What does he hate? He quotes a former mentor: "a steak that is battleship gray."
He likes to prepare salmon or fresh Maine lobster dishes with vegetables and has concocted a wedding cake or two. His favorite wedding-cake recipe is a filled chocolate sauvignon cake.
His children, 8, 7, 5, and 3 years old, gobble up his fresh-vegetable pasta, which he developed as a "refrigerator cleaner." He makes it by topping off bow-tie pasta with carrots, corn and broccoli, which he disguises in a tasty beef sauce. Here is his recipe:
1 pound package bow-tie pasta
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup broccoli florets
2 tablespoons maple syrup
A pinch of leaf thyme
A pinch of leaf marjoram
1/2 cup beef bouillon or beef stock
4 ounces crab meat or shrimp
12-ounce can of corn
2 garlic cloves, mashed
4 ounces diced or shredded, cooked chicken
Cook pasta in boiling salted water, drain and rinse, dry well and coat with 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil, then set aside.
Blanch carrots and broccoli (separately) in salted water, then saute briefly (separately) in 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter.
Add maple syrup, thyme and marjoram to carrots and toss. Steam broccoli with beef stock and season to taste with salt, pepper and sugar, then set aside.
Saute the crab meat or shrimp in 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat, being careful not to brown. Season with salt and white pepper and set aside.
Heat corn in a small pan, season with white pepper and set aside. Be sure to keep the pans hot and the food moving.
Heat large saute pan with 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil and saute pasta until hot, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
Add fresh garlic and toss, and then add the carrots, broccoli, corn, chicken and seafood (strain all liquid, except the carrots, before adding).
Saute until hot. Season sparingly, to taste.