Chefs

Monday, June 2, 2014

Kansas Town restaurant losing chef, may change concept

Posted By on Mon, Jun 2, 2014 at 12:48 PM

Kansas Town owner Michael Bechtel, left, confirms that chef Garrett Kasper, right, is leaving the five-month-old restaurant. - ANGELA C. BOND
  • Angela C. Bond
  • Kansas Town owner Michael Bechtel, left, confirms that chef Garrett Kasper, right, is leaving the five-month-old restaurant.

After five months as the executive chef of the Kansas Town restaurant at 1403 West 39th Street, Garrett Kasper has given his notice; the 27-year-old will be joining the staff of the uncompleted Lulu's Asian Bistro, the new venue in Westwood planned by Malisa Monyakula, the owner of Lulu's Thai Noodle Shop in the Crossroads. The bistro is scheduled to open in July at 2701 West 47th Street.

"I was looking for a new opportunity," Kasper says. "I've got several different projects going until Lulu's opens."

"Garrett gave me his two weeks' notice," says Kansas Town owner Michael Bechtel. "We're looking at different options for the future of the restaurant. Our original plan was to open a pasta and pizza restaurant before we decided on the Kansas Town theme. We may return to that. We're weighing several possibilities."

Bechtel is a visual artist, and Kansas Town, despite its rustic name, was an unabashedly artistic restaurant with dishes - both large and small plates - composed as beautifully as modern paintings. The restaurant, which opened last January, has received mixed reviews from both critics and diners. 

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Chef Justin Voldan of Hotel Phillips wins Golden Fork Award

Posted By on Fri, May 23, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Hotel Phillips executive chef Justin Voldan, left, with sous chef Himesh Zimba, received the 2014 Golden Fork Award at last evening's "Taste of Kansas City" event sponsored by The Pitch.
  • Hotel Phillips executive chef Justin Voldan, left, with sous chef Himesh Zimba, received the 2014 Golden Fork Award at last evening's "Taste of Kansas City" event sponsored by The Pitch.

Justin Voldan, the 30-year-old executive chef at the Hotel Phillips Kansas City, won the 2014 Golden Fork competition at Thursday night's "Taste of Kansas City" event, sponsored by The Pitch in the KC Live Block of the Power & Light District. Voldan competed against five other local chefs in preparing a meal from a collection of ingredients presented to them just moments before the cooking competition started.

For a slideshow of photographs from this year's "Taste of Kansas City" event, click here.

Voldan, an Illinois native, has been at the Hotel Phillips for three years; the Golden Fork Award was his first major culinary-competition win since he moved to Kansas City in 2011. Each of the competing chefs was given the same ingredients to use in preparing one or two (and in some cases three) unique dishes that were judged by me, author and blogger David Hayden, and food blogger and cookbook author Emily Farris. The event raised funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Kansas City.

The competing chefs, in addition to Voldan, were second-place winner Charles d'Ablaing from Chaz on the Plaza; third-place winner Shawn Brady from the Ambassador Hotel; Cruz Vasquez from Accurso's Italian Restaurant; Bobby Stearns from Ophelia's Restaurant; and the 2013 Golden Fork Award winner, Jason Wiggins from the InterContinental Hotel Kansas City.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Remedy Food + Drink was the right antidote for chef Kelli Daniels

Posted By on Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Since taking over the kitchen at Remedy Food + Drink three weeks ago, chef Kelli Daniels has revamped the entire menu except for the eggplant fries and corn dogs introduced by the restaurant's opening chef, Max Watson. - ANGELA C. BOND
  • Angela C. Bond
  • Since taking over the kitchen at Remedy Food + Drink three weeks ago, chef Kelli Daniels has revamped the entire menu except for the eggplant fries and corn dogs introduced by the restaurant's opening chef, Max Watson.

Last night, The Pitch reported that two of Kansas City's more iconoclastic chefs, Ray "Pete" Peterman and Kelli Daniels, had taken new jobs in the metro. Peterman is taking a break from running a full-service restaurant's kitchen (he was last at Blue Grotto in Brookside) and will be replacing baker Jason Provo as the head of Baked in Kansas City's bread program.

Daniels had moved out of Kansas City last February to take a job as a chef for the historic Hotel Fauchere in Milford, Pennsylvania. That gig lasted one month.

"They made some promises about housing and my salary that they weren't able to keep," Daniels says. "I never wanted to leave Kansas City in the first place, but it didn't seem like there were many job opportunities for me here."

Ironically, after Daniels got into her unpacked rental van ("I had brought two-thirds of my things with me," Daniels says. "My girlfriend, who had just quit her job in Kansas City, was going to bring the rest") and made the 17-hour trip back to Kansas City, she was offered a job relatively quickly.

"I had spoken with the owners of Remedy Food + Drink before I left town," Daniels says. "And when I got back into town, there was a job opening. I'm thrilled to be there. It's my style of concept, my kind of food."

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Baked in Kansas City hires Pete Peterman; Kelli Daniels is at Remedy

Posted By on Sun, Apr 20, 2014 at 8:21 PM

Ray "Pete" Peterman joined the Blue Grotto staff after closing his own 39th Street restaurant, Peanches, last year. Now, instead of baking pizza, he's joined the Baked in Kansas City staff and will be breaking bread.
  • Ray "Pete" Peterman joined the Blue Grotto staff after closing his own 39th Street restaurant, Peanches, last year. Now, instead of baking pizza, he's joined the Baked in Kansas City staff and will be breaking bread.



Two of Kansas City's more peripatetic chefs, Ray "Pete" Peterman and Kelli Daniels, have recently started new jobs in the metro: Peterman, who took over the pizza kitchen at the Blue Grotto in Brookside in January, has been hired as the chief bread baker for the three-month-old bakery and restaurant, Baked in Kansas City at 706 Westport Road. He completed his job at the Blue Grotto - which is now owned by that restaurant's former general manager, Fenton Molloy - last week.

Chef Kelli Daniels, formerly of the Elms Hotel & Spa and the Good You food truck, was reported as moving to Milford, Pennsylvania, to oversee the kitchen in a historic hotel property. She was hired two weeks ago to take over the kitchen at Remedy Food + Drink at 500 West 75th Street; Daniels is replacing former Remedy chef Marcheski Hervey.


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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jasper's Restaurant: After 60 years, Mother knows best

Posted By on Thu, Apr 17, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Josephine Mirabile surrounded by her four sons, from left, Salvatore, Jasper Jr., James, and Leonard.
  • Josephine Mirabile surrounded by her four sons, from left, Salvatore, Jasper Jr., James, and Leonard.

Several beloved Kansas City restaurants are celebrating anniversaries this year: The American turns 40 and the family-owned Northland restaurant, Cascone's, turns 60. Another family-owned operation - Jasper's Restaurant - celebrated its 60th anniversary this month and continues to offer a special menu of six dishes (through April 30), some dating back to the original restaurant that the late restaurateur Jasper Mirabile Sr. opened in 1954 at 405 West 75th Street.

A fixture of Kansas City's restaurant community since the days when 75th Street was considered the very southern end of the city (the streetcars turned around at 75th Street and Wornall), Jasper's has had at least three distinct incarnations over six decades: the original modest Italian restaurant that served Southern Italian cuisine, fried chicken and grilled steaks (and a hot roast-beef sandwich and mashed potatoes for 60 cents) in the former Rose's Bar; the upscale, glamorous restaurant with tableside service and waiters in tuxedos from 1966 to 1997; and the current more casual trattoria at 1201 West 103rd Street.

The restaurant's namesake, a scrappy and ambitious young graduate of De LaSalle Academy and a college football player at St. Mary's College in California, had married his girlfriend, Josephine Cropisi, a 23-year-old grocer's daughter from Kansas City's Northeast, the year before he purchased the tiny restaurant; the first of their four sons, Leonard, was born several months after he started running the business.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Succotash takes on the Taco Bell breakfast menu

Posted By on Thu, Apr 10, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Succotash chef and general manager Sumer Zinnert has engineered her own spin on the Taco Bell Waffle Taco, and it looks like this. - SUCCOTASH
  • Succotash
  • Succotash chef and general manager Sumer Zinnert has engineered her own spin on the Taco Bell Waffle Taco, and it looks like this.

Taco Bell gave its breakfast menu a splashy nationwide launch March 27, with heavy focus on what the fast-food company called "the highly anticipated and revolutionary Waffle Taco." I held out as long as I could, but eventually I was ordered to try one, along with the chain's "all-in-one A.M. Crunchwrap."

More like all-in-one revulsion.

I am not just being cranky when I warn you that this soggy little waffle, folded around scrambled eggs and salty, chewy bacon bits (or an equally soggy sausage patty) and sprinkled with grated cheese, is an affront to at least four of the senses. All five if you listen to yourself eat the stuff.

But there is a way to eat a whole breakfast inside a waffle in Kansas City without hating yourself later. Go to Succotash (2601 Holmes) when it's serving its anti-Taco Bell experiments. More on that after the jump.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Story's Carl Thorne-Thomsen wins 'Best New Chef' honors

Posted By on Wed, Apr 2, 2014 at 4:03 PM

Chef Carl Thorne-Thomsen gets the Peoples vote from Food & Wine magazine.
  • Chef Carl Thorne-Thomsen gets the People's vote from Food & Wine magazine.

Carl Thorne-Thomsen, the chef and co-owner of the Story restaurant in Prairie Village, has been a professional chef for more than a few years. But if Food & Wine magazine says he's the People's Best New Chef 2014, who the hell is he to complain?

Thorne-Thomsen, one of the most shy and reticent local chefs, is hardly complaining. This is a second win for him. Last year, Thorne-Thomsen received enough online votes to snag the Best New Chef, Midwest region. This year he was also nominated in the Midwest region (along with Kansas City's Patrick Ryan of Port Fonda and Ryan Brazeal of Novel) and scored enough votes to win the whole shebang. He was the winner-take-all vote-getter for the competition. The prize includes a shout-out in the June issue of Food & Wine magazine.

"I don't know if they do an actual feature," Thorne-Thomsen says. "But they do something."

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Brazeal, Ryan, Thorne-Thomsen nominated for Food & Wine contest

Posted By on Mon, Mar 24, 2014 at 3:08 PM

Ryan Brazeal's imaginative, beautifully composed dishes at Novel made him a likely 2014 nominee for Food & Wine's "People's Choice" awards for the Midwest region. - ANGELA C. BOND
  • Angela C. Bond
  • Ryan Brazeal's imaginative, beautifully composed dishes at Novel made him a likely 2014 nominee for Food & Wine's "People's Choice" awards for the Midwest region.

Three of Kansas City's more high-profile chefs - Ryan Brazeal of Novel, Carl Thorne-Thomsen of Story, and Port Fonda's Patrick Ryan -  have been nominated for Food & Wine's "People's Best New Chef 2014" in the Midwest region category. Two of the three chefs, Ryan and Thorne-Thomsen, have been nominated before; Thorne-Thomsen won the award last year.

The "People's Choice" awards are given to the chefs in each regional category who garner the most online votes (you can vote for your choice by clicking here). Ryan, Thorne-Thomsen and relatively new restaurateur Ryan Brazeal - he opened the distinctive Novel restaurant eight months ago - are among the 10 Midwest-area chefs (two from the St. Louis metro; two from Madison, Wisconsin; two from Minneapolis; and one from Milwaukee) who were nominated. Online voting continues through March 31.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Jasper's Restaurant named to NRN's Dining Hall of Fame

Posted By on Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 1:41 PM

Chef Jasper Mirabile Jr., center, flanked by his wife, Lisa, and his nephew, Jasper Mirabile III (who is also a chef at the family restaurant), under the photograph of the late patriarch, Jasper Mirabile Sr.
  • Chef Jasper Mirabile Jr., center, flanked by his wife, Lisa, and his nephew, Jasper Mirabile III (who is also a chef at the family restaurant), under the photograph of the late patriarch, Jasper Mirabile Sr.

Last month, the restaurant industry's best-known trade publication, Nation's Restaurant News, named the 60-year-old Jasper's Restaurant to its "Fine Dining Hall of Fame," along with Momofuku Ko in New York City, Incanto in San Francisco, and the Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama.

The current incarnation of Jasper's is hardly a casual restaurant, but it's not as glamorous (or as expensive) as the more formal venue at 75th Street and Wornall during the years 1968-97. At that time, Jasper's (which the family patriarch Jasper Mirabile Sr. had opened in 1954 originally as a bar and grill) was the only truly upscale Italian dining room in Kansas City; servers in tuxedos and white gloves prepared classic tableside dishes like fettuccine Alfredo, peppered steak, chateaubriand.

The elder Mirabile insisted that all four of his sons - Leonard, Salvatore, James and Jasper Jr. - work in the restaurant. "We all started the same way," Jasper Mirabile Jr. says. "First slicing bread in the kitchen, then moving to the salad station line, then into the dining room. We had to work every position in the place."

At one point, Jasper Jr. was a tuxedo-wearing busboy following his older brother Leonard, already a server, around the dining room. Leonard and Jasper Jr. were the only Mirabile sons interested in the restaurant business: Salvatore became a lawyer, and James is a physician.

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Blue Grotto's new chef is Pete Peterman

Posted By on Thu, Jan 23, 2014 at 1:55 PM

pete_peterman_1.jpg

The Blue Grotto, the sleek pizzeria at 6324 Brookside Plaza, has been in flux since the unexpected death of the venue's founder and owner John Grier last month. But former Blue Grotto general manager Fenton Malloy today confirms to The Pitch that he is in negotiations with the Grier family to purchase the restaurant.

Meanwhile, Malloy has hired talented but legendarily combative restaurant veteran Ray "Pete" Peterman as Blue Grotto's executive chef. Peterman closed his own restaurant, Peanches, at the end of December.

"Yes, I know Pete's reputation precedes him," Malloy says. "But I've known him for years and I've always been impressed by his focus, the quality of his food, and his knowledge of food costs and food handling."

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