Stef Tovar's Kahlua cake is always the star of any opening night he attends.
"It's a tradition now. When I'm in a show or I go to see a show my friends are in, I'll always make it," said Tovar, who's currently starring as Rob in "High Fidelity ... The Musical" at Chicago's Pipers Alley. (FYI: (312) 664-8844 or route66theatre.org). The play is presented by Tovar's Route 66 Theatre Company, which he founded in February 2008. The company's premise is to explore and take new risks in the theater arena and present eclectic productions.
The hit Kahlua cake recipe was given to Tovar by a friend in New York.
"It's really a piece of cake to make," he said.
While stage craft has long been foremost in Tovar's life, he's also been fascinated by the kitchen craft.
"When I was a kid, I'd watch Julia Child's "The French Chef" and I even had my own little recipe box," he said laughing.
He can't remember the exact recipes that were in the box but thinks back fondly to that time when he'd help his grandmother whip up meals.
"She was a great cook," Tovar said.
Among dishes he grew up eating were basic "meat and potatoes" recipes. His mother's meatloaf was something he always liked as well.
Tovar, who spent a short time working as a grill cook at restaurants such as Ruby Tuesday and Houlihan's, said he still enjoys grilling.
"My burgers are legendary," he said, adding the key to a good burger is "all about the prep and spices added before grilling them."
Other dishes on his frequent meals to make list include a "mean sausage lasagna" and meatballs.
Tovar's perfect meal would definitely be something Italian.
"You can't go wrong with Italian -- from pasta to chicken," he said.
Taking the No.1 spot in his all-time favorite chef category is great culinary dame Child.
"She was my icon," he said.
While Tovar likes getting into the kitchen to concoct special dishes, he also likes to explore different eateries.
"I look for places where the food is good and where I can chill out," he said.
When he lived in LA, he'd eat at sushi restaurants while here in Chicago his preferences are meals at Lou Malnati's or other Italian eateries.
Tovar, 38, is a Chicago resident who grew up in Bartlett. He is the father of three-year-old Sam.
The following is Tovar's Kahlua cake recipe. Give it a shot for your next party.
1/2 cup Kahlua
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup water
Yellow Duncan Hines Cake Mix (butter or pudding recipe)
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Kahlua
DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend Kahlua, oil, eggs, water and cake mix. Add batter to a greased bundt cake pan. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until done. For glaze, slowly bring butter, water and sugar to a boil for 5 minutes. Stir in Kahlua. Once cake has cooled, poke holes and pour in glaze evenly. Let soak 5 to 10 minutes. Flip over.