By Rebekah Skochinski
Leo Hockenhull’s foray into cooking began at age 12, in the kitchen of his family home in Slate River. “My father died and when my mom went to work we quickly found out that I was a better cook than her. She didn’t mind and neither did I,” he says. His natural ability would land him a job in a bakery a year later. From there he worked on lake boats as a second cook and night cook before starting his own restaurant in Calgary in 1975. After getting his chef papers in 1984, he and his brother opened the Prospector Steak House in 1985 in Thunder Bay. The brothers, who were raised on a farm, knew a thing or two about beef cattle. Add a recipe for mouth-watering buns and homegrown vegetables and you could say they struck gold.
Hockenhull’s signature dish is oven-roasted prime rib, which he says is the most flavourful cut of beef. His expertise in cuts means he knows the right process for the right grade of meat. Something you won’t find on the menu, but is his favourite thing to eat, is slow-roasted brisket—a southern flavour he hopefully decides to bring to our northern town. His approach to cooking is rooted in tradition. It’s something you do for your family; you take care of them. And we can be glad that his traditions are being carried on and served up for all to enjoy.
From the February 2013 issue: