Savor the Untamed Flavor

Untamed Chef is a restaurant/take-and-bake/interactive cooking experience rolled up in one

Rebecca Hearn with customers in the kitchen at Untamed Chef

Preparing meals for family and friends has always provided comfort and joy to Rebecca Hearn. As a child, she and her aunt would spend entire days planning and prepping family feasts. “This is where my passion for cooking began,” she explains. She attended culinary arts school in the early 2000s, and later pursued a business degree and went to work at Caterpillar, where she stayed for 14 years. 

But Hearn always dreamed of owning a restaurant, and in February 2018, she and her husband Bryce opened Untamed Chef—a restaurant/take-and-bake/interactive cooking experience rolled up in one. Her travels to Asia and the Middle East inspired many of her dishes, which she passes on to customers along with her motto: “Savor the untamed flavor.” 

As head chef, Hearn helps her customers explore cooking techniques in a fun, participatory atmosphere, while challenging them to step out of their comfort zones. “I enjoy giving them the stepping stones to go beyond where they might have expected their culinary skills to take them,” she explains. “Our customers have repeatedly told us how at home and comfortable they feel creating meals with us.”

But you don’t have to cook when you visit—many people simply relax while Hearn prepares their meal, while others choose from an array of take-and-bake options. “These are becoming very popular for busy families that need a little help creating healthy and flavorful meals,” she adds. Untamed Chef also offers private classes and events, catering, delivery and more. Located at 7338 N. University Street in Peoria, it is open seven days a week. untamedchefcooking.com

This article originally appeared in Peoria Magazine.

A Life-Altering Transformation

A series of body contouring surgeries enabled a local woman to look and feel healthier—and regain her self-confidence. 

Two and a half years ago, Jessica King weighed more than 300 pounds and desperately wanted to lose weight. Like many people, she “yo-yo dieted”—losing 30 or 40 pounds, only to gain it back—which took a psychological and physical toll. The final straw for King came after an embarrassing incident at Six Flags. She and her children stood in line for nearly two hours to go on the Batman ride, only to be turned away when the safety belt wouldn’t fit around her waist. “At that point I knew my weight was not only affecting me, but my kids,” she recalls. “And that was unacceptable to me.” 

King had been researching weight-loss surgeries for years—even qualifying for the procedure twice, only to back out. After the Six Flags incident and with much deliberation, King consulted with Dr. J. Stephen Marshall of Peoria Surgical Group about weight-loss surgeries. He recommended she go with a gastric bypass, which reduces the size of the stomach and redirects food from the small intestine to absorb fewer calories. Dr. Marshall performed her surgery on December 6, 2017. 

In the following months, King changed her eating habits, switching to a Keto diet, and started exercising at three months post-op. “The misconception with weight loss surgery is that it’s a magic cure, when in reality it’s a tool that helps you learn how to eat correctly for the rest of your life,” she explains. In 15 months, she dropped 190 pounds, but her makeover journey was far from over. The massive weight loss came with another set of problems—excess, sagging skin.  Read the rest of the article here.