Abreo Restaurant - Rockford, IL Downtown

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Abreo - History of Abreo - Abreo Restaurant in Rockford IL

a bit of history...

My first job in a restaurant was as a bus boy when I was sixteen. I would get excited for the few moments each day I would spend in the kitchen bugging the chefs with questions, trying to help, and sometimes just watching. Then I would take what I had learned home and try it out on my mother.

People say she must have been lucky to have a young chef at home, but my mom probably remembers it differently. While some meals were good, some were not. No matter how good or bad, I always made a mess of the place (sorry mom). However, in the end one thing is true: I love to cook and love to share it with others.

My first job didn't allow me to be in the kitchen, so I was soon looking elsewhere. I ended up at a new restaurant/bar that was opening. We only made bar food, but at last I was cooking. That was when I decided this is what I want to do with my life, and I applied to culinary school. While working full time, and going to school full time, I realized I had to get a job in a real restaurant. So, my father and I went to eat at all the best restaurants in town. We ended up at this great French restaurant, that sadly is no longer open, and I fell in love. I told the owner after dinner that I wanted to work for him, but he didn't have any openings at the time. I persisted, and he eventually took me in as an apprentice. I worked for two months for free, paying my dues, and then got hired on full time. In two years I was the head chef. I learned so much in that restaurant and am eternally grateful for the opportunity I was given (thanks Phillipe).

When my stay at the French restaurant came to an end, I didn't really know what to do next. One day, a regular customer from the restaurant called and asked if I would do a dinner party in their home for their son's birthday. The party was a big success, and Dinner Parties by Paul was born. It started slowly with a few faithful customers, then word began to spread. Ive been cooking ever since.

Dinner Parties by Paul was a great experience for me. In the restaurant you can't interact with customers as much because you're too busy. With dinner parties, you are one-on-one with your host and their guests. It gave me a chance to really know my customers and realize just how much I enjoyed cooking. I decided to bring that level of personal service back to the restaurant (Abreo) and treat every guest as if I was in their home. People are the reason I cook, not the food. I love good food, but it's better when you can share that love with others.

Over the past fifteen years I have been learning, testing, and tuning my skills as a chef. I have also learned the business and service aspects of the restaurant industry. With all of these different experiences, I have been able to create a style of food and service that is unique and of the highest quality. I look forward to sharing my love for food and people with Rockford.

Abreo opened January 16, 2005 and has been a blast.

Paul Sletten

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