|Wiggin rules the kitchen at the Raphael Hotel.|
Jason Wiggin, the 28-year-old executive chef at Chaz on the Plaza in the Raphael Hotel, had been the executive chef at the Phillips Hotel earlier in his career (which also included a stint at Maker's Mark in the P&L District) and wanted to work for a restaurant in an upscale boutique hotel.
There aren't that many of those in Kansas City. Immediately before joining the Raphael several weeks ago, Wiggin had been the executive chef at the Aladdin Hotel in downtown Kansas City for eight months. It wasn't such a good fit since that restaurant's attractive dining venue, the Zebra Room, has been unable to find an identity. The Raphael Hotel, on the other hand, remains the premier boutique lodging spot in the city. And Wiggin is thrilled to be there - and to sit down and answer Fat City's Five Questions.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I have tons of them. Today, for example, we made fried pickles in the kitchen! And I love barbecue. I'm crazy about it. My favorite? Oklahoma Joe's.
What is your most embarrassing moment in the kitchen?
I was an apprentice chef and the executive chef was someone I really admired and respected. He was giving me a tour of the kitchen and would point at things and say, "What's this?" or "What's that?" He pointed to a pan of bacon and asked what it was and I should have just said, you know, bacon. But I said, "Back rashers." That's Irish bacon from the back of a pig. He looked at me like I was crazy."
If you could cook for one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
A living person: chef Thomas Keller of The French Laundry. I'd really like his honest feedback on my cooking.
What are your rules of conduct in the kitchen?
My staff would tell you that I have an iron fist in a silk glove. I came up working in really rigid, humorless kitchens that were, frankly, no fun. I like my kitchens to be a much more comfortable environment, but my staff knows when it's time to get down to business.
What makes a great line cook?
Humility, first of all. Chefs need that, too. And then determination and dedication.