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Cornelius Cooks

Chicken that can be beat


Funk’s main dish is elegant, easy, tasty

Mel Funk’s version of Chicken Cordon Bleu is what you’d expect from a lifelong restaurateur who helped develop menus at the old Steak and Ale chain and worked for 131 Main before launching Fresh Chef in The Shops at Fresh Market last September.

It’s as delicious as it is fresh and appealing to the eye.

Funk serves it at home—he lives with his wife Martha in Oakhurst—with rice pilaf and steamed broccoli, with a little salt and pepper, a squeeze of lemon and Parmesan cheese.

And a smoky Chardonnay.

Raised in Troutville, Va., Funk learned the art of cooking mostly from his dad, a salesman and part-time country musician. Plenty of cook-outs and barbecues later, he “got his chops” at Steak and Ale as a grill cook.

He honed his skills at 131 Main and moved to Cornelius three years ago. “My hobby is work,” he says. “I’ve always been able to imagine what tastes well together.”

The Funks like to entertain casually at home, and doing so usually includes music. “We are all musicians; we play guitar, piano and we definitely grill out,” he says.

Mel Funk’s Chicken Cordon Bleu


  • 6-ounce chicken breast
  • Vegetable oil
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/4 cup smoked ham
  • 1/4 cup swiss cheese
  • Panko breading
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Preheat oven to 350

Start with a 6-ounce chicken breast, place it in cellophane, pound it out until paper thin. Put vegetable oil on the skin side. On the inside (not skin side) put a quarter teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning, a quarter cup of chopped smoked ham thinly sliced and a quarter cup of chopped shredded Swiss cheese. Fold into a pouch and sear the open end shut. Coat with with Panko breading, made with Old Bay, salt and white pepper. (A cup of Panko to a teaspoon of Old Bay, salt and white pepper.)

Roll the chicken pockets into the coating mix. Place the chicken pocket on a greased sheet pan.

Cook at 350 for 22 minutes or to 155 internally. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.