Owner/Chef, Abreo, Social Urban Bar & Restaurant, PK Diner
Paul Sletten discovered his passion for cooking in high school and followed it through Blackhawk Technical College (BTC) to owning two fine dining restaurants and a diner in Rockford, Illinois.
He started out as a busboy, progressed to short order cook then apprentice chef. It was at BTC, under the guidance of instructors who encouraged his creativity, that Sletten was able to take his cooking instincts and turn them into a trained art.
“I learned a ton (at BTC),’’ Sletten recalled. “The best part of the program is that if I wanted to learn more than what they were teaching, I could always get the answers.
“The instructors encouraged me to be that way. They wanted to see me use the things I had learned and advance it a little further. They gave me the tools to do that.’’
“He’s a very talented young man,’’ said Chef Joe Wollinger, a Culinary Arts instructor. “He’s a real go-getter who works very hard. He’s got a great reputation in the business and has developed a real following for his restaurants.”
Chef Paul Sletten enjoys creating new dishes for his three Rockford restaurants.
All three of his restaurants use locally-sourced ingredients to create unique seasonal menu items. Sletten and his team work hard to create, reinvent and “push the envelope of our concept of dining.”
“I did not get into this business for any other reason than the fact that I have a great time doing it,’’ he tells his customers. “I love my time in the kitchen creating, tweaking and sometimes failing at new dishes. I love working with a great staff and watching as a team of 20 or so all work together for a common purpose.
“I love grinding in the kitchen on a busy night in the chaos and then walking through the dining room to talk with guests who have no idea what it took to make their dining experience happen.
“My goal is to never get bored, never be afraid to take a chance and to always appreciate the people around me.’’