Once upon a time there was a Chinese family in Colorado Springs with the last name of Louie. It was 1954, and the family opened a restaurant, The Golden Dragon.
It didn’t take long for a loyal fan club to develop. Thomas Louie’s simple, fast, inexpensive fare proved irresistible to the locals.
As often happens in a family-run restaurant, the Louie offspring grew up in the business and then inherited it. They’ve kept the restaurant open and continue to serve their popular Chinese fare, but Don Louie is doing more than just cooking Chinese dinners.
These days, he’s concentrating on manufacturing cooking sauces — everything from hot and spicy mixtures to syrupysweet concoctions. With a line of 49 sauces, mostly used by other chefs and sold through food-service outlets, he’s found his calling.
Years ago, however, Louie seemed headed for a life far from the culinary world.
"This was the last thing I wanted to do," he says. After getting his college degree in business, he landed a great job with NASA in the education department — then lost it.
"That’s when I decided the family business didn’t look that bad. Besides, my dad wanted to retire, and I hated to see the family lose the restaurant," he says.
Notcontent with running the restaurant as usual, he hit on a way to branch out.
"I was invited to do a cooking demonstration at the State Fair in 1989," he says. "What everyone was interested in was my special seasoning sauce."
It was the beginning of his sauce-making company, Aikan (his mother’s maiden name), which means enlightenment. "I also wanted to play on how the name is pronounced — ‘I Kan’: If I can do it, you can do it."
Though most of his sauces are sold to the trade, six are available to consumers: Jam Asia, a sweet pepper sauce; Bourbon Teri, a teriyaki sauce; Orange Pepper; Ultimate Stir Fry, a tomato-molasses sauce; an extra-hot Ultimate Stir Fry; and Balsamic Blast. They cost $4 to $6 and can be used for condiments or cooking. Order them directly from Louie at (719) 632-3607.
Q: With whom would you most like to do lunch?
A: Firstlady Laura Bush for a real old-fashioned Texas barbecue.
Q: What is your favorite dish to make at home? A: My favorite comfort food has always been abowlofnoodles with pickles and chopped ham and a dab of chili sauce and oyster sauce.
Q: What culinary gadget could you not cook without?
A: A mandoline — not the musical instrument but a vegetable slicer.
Q: What three ingredients could you not cook without?
A:Agood cooking oil (either olive or rice bran/vegetable), rich homemade vegetable and meat stock and fresh cracked pepper.
Q: When it comes to eating, what’s your guilty pleasure?
A:Ilovefowl— especially the ones with a lot of flavor, like goose.
Q: What is your favorite restaurant? A:Ilovefood and enjoy going out, but I find myself drawn to family-owned restaurants because they put that extra attention to the food, service and atmosphere.
Q: What cooking tip would you offer your readers to make their time in the kitchen easier?
A: Organize your food from the longest cooking times to the shortest. For example, a roast takes the longest, and so while your meat is cooking, work on your side dishes, such as rice/potatoes, dinner rolls, vegetables and salad.
Q: What is the biggest mistake you ever made while cooking?
A: During a demonstration, I forgot to put the pork in a Chinese stew pot.