Chef Biography

Carolyn Buster, born and raised in Hammond, Indiana, had no formal culinary training save a 10-week gourmet cooking course offered by Sears, Roebuck and Co. back in 1962 when she was working in an office at a Hammond steel mill.

In 1963, she started working on her dream of owning her own restaurant.  She was offered a job in Chicago by noted Hungarian chef Louis Szathmary, as an assistant for his test kitchen at his new restaurant, The Bakery, and to assist with his cookbooks.  She also worked in the dining room and kitchen to learn the intricacies of the restaurant business.

In 1974, she and her husband, Jerry, decided it was time to open their own restaurant, called The Cottage, halfway between Hammond, Indiana and Chicago, Illinois in Calumet City, near a neighborhood where all the executives from the steel companies lived.  They had planned for a low-key opening, but the buzz about a Szathmary apprentice drew 103 patrons on the first day.  In 1984, the Great Chefs team showed up at The Cottage to tape Chef Buster for the PBS television series, Great Chefs of Chicago (episode #2).  It was the last series where Great Chefs would use one chef for an entire episode, cooking the appetizer, entrée, and dessert.

In that same year, Chef Buster co-founded the Chicago chapter of the Les Dames d’Escoffier.  Later she received an honorary degree from the Culinary College at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island.  In 1996, Chef Buster closed The Cottage after 22 years, and consulted and worked with Great Chefs Television as an assistant producer for their

Great Chefs of Hawaii series.  She moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1999, where she passed away in 2008, after suffering a fall.


Chocolate-Rum Terrine

Serving: 12 to 15 Print Chocolate-Rum Terrine By Great Chefs November 16, 2015 This is a big production number: a bittersweet chocolate terrine, glazed with shiny chocolate and sauced with chocolate laced with rum, brandy, and cognac, is served with scoops of three chocolate mousses! The white chocolate mousse is flavored with citrus; the milk […]

“The Cottage” Raspberry Cake

Serving: 16 Print “The Cottage” Raspberry Cake By Great Chefs November 16, 2015 Chef Carolyn Buster used to joke that once this cake was seen on Great Chefs, she could never take it off the menu at The Cottage, her popular dining spot outside Chicago. The Cottage is closed now, but you can still enjoy […]

“The Cottage” Schnitzel

Serving: 4 to 6 Print “The Cottage” Schnitzel By Great Chefs November 16, 2015 Pork tenderloin medallions are pounded thin and quickly fried in a batter that includes Parmesan cheese and a whiff of nutmeg. If you find deglazing with the lemon juice a little tart for your taste, you can dilute it with a […]

Smoked Duck

Serving: Makes 16 appetizers or 8 entrees Print Smoked Duck By Great Chefs November 11, 2015 To say this is a dish of thinly-sliced smoked duck is an understatement. The ducks are rubbed with butter spiced with things like cumin and coriander and curry, stuffed with savory vegetables and fruit, and marinated in apple cider […]

Sea Scallops in Spinach Leaves

Serving: 8 Print Sea Scallops in Spinach Leaves By Great Chefs November 11, 2015 You’ll want the largest, freshest sea scallops available for this dish — and it’s an ideal way to showcase them. Rich tarragon beurre blanc sauce is pooled on each serving plate and topped with a seared scallop which in turn is […]

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