Jackets’ Prout finds himself at home on the ice and in the kitchen

On ice, Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Dalton Prout blocks shots, challenges marquis NHL scorers and takes on players like Boston’s Milan Lucic, but off ice, what he loves to do is cook. And he has a dentist to thank for it.

“When I was 16, I had my wisdom teeth out,” said Prout. “I think I watched the Food Network for 24 straight hours.”

From there, Prout started trying out recipes. It wasn’t long before cooking together became a family tradition.

“It’s something we can do as a family – on Sundays in the summer we can get together,” said Prout. “My dad and I love to grill on the barbeque, and my sister works in a local bakery – maybe cooking is in our genes.”

While Prout is mainly self-taught – he continues to watch Food Network and counts “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” as a personal favorite – he’s come to realize he knows quite a bit.

“You really start to take for granted what you already know,” said Prout. “I remember at prospect camp in the cooking class one of the guys didn’t know how to handle raw chicken.”

Prout likes to cook for himself as much as he can. He manages his meals for on-season and off-season calorie demands and counts chicken parmesan as a personal favorite to prepare.

“I like to go over the top with everything – extra breading, extra cheese, big chunky tomatoes – make it taste really good,” he said.

Chef Prout also likes to dole out the good eats for his teammates—and they’re happy to partake.

“He’s a great cook,” said fellow defenseman David Savard. “It’s great to have guys here that cook and (Prout) cooks a lot of good things.”

While Savard can’t pick just one favorite from all of Prout’s dishes, he definitely could name one of the best.

“We’ll pound out some tenderloins and have them with some brie,” Savard said.

That doesn’t mean everything always turns out perfectly. During Prout’s first year, he and Savard were roommates and had some interesting cooking adventures. One in particular involved cooking some chicken, oil, and using the wrong lid on the pan. Recounting the tale had the guys laughing.

“(Savard) and I survived an oil catastrophe,” said Prout. “I lifted the lid and the oil burst in to flames, black smoke went up to the ceiling and it singed my eyebrows.”

Savard ended up helping Prout make a quick, safe disposal of the ruined food.

“We definitely lived and learned,” Prout said with a smile.

The fact that Prout knows good cooking at home carries over to dining out at restaurants as well. The defenseman names Martini and Third and Hollywood as favorite local restaurants and he keeps his discerning palate in place even when choosing his pre-game meal.

“I try to mix it up, whether it be chicken, steak or fish,” Prout said. “And of course I’ll take the food that looks good – if it sits out too long, you can tell.”

While the team’s travels have exposed Prout to many chefs’ work, there’s one recipe he’s still working to perfect: His billet mom’s rib recipe. His passion to recreate the dish is obvious.

“She has a special recipe she boils, bakes and barbeques the ribs. They have a sweet and sour, Cajun flavor – it uses Dr. Pepper,” said Prout. “I asked her for the recipe and try it, but I keep messing it up.”

If Prout keeps applying the same dedication and work ethic to cooking that got him a permanent spot on the Blue Jackets roster, he’ll probably figure out that rib recipe in no time.

The Jackets next home game is tonight against the Minnesota Wild at 7 p.m. For more information or to buy tickets, visit bluejackets.nhl.com.