Coe introduces his menu to Sharp's patrons this week. And, yes,
the controversial cream-of-water-chestnut soup is back. Customers either
love or hate the concoction. Coe says he has tinkered with the recipe so
that it's finally a rich, savory soup: "It's almost like a potato soup
now, made with fresh herbs."
But the soup -- only available on Friday and Saturday nights -- wasn't the Sharp's item that regular customers seriously demanded be returned to the menu. That dish was a turkey sandwich made with sauteed mushrooms and artichoke hearts. The Sharp's clientele apparently threatened mutiny when Welcher took it off the menu. Owner Marty Junkins told Coe to bring the sandwich back.
So you were forced to bring the turkey sandwich back?
I wasn't unhappy about that, because it was a popular sandwich. What I did was to really give it a more appealing presentation. We use good Farm to Market bread now, a better brand of turkey and superior cheese. It still has the sauteed mushrooms and artichokes, but we now use our own house-made honey-mustard dressing. It's a much better sandwich.
And the cream-of-artichoke soup?
When I first tasted it, I thought, "Oh, my God, what is this?" But people do love it. The problem was that it wasn't very consistent. It's now a savory soup, completely pureed so that there are no odd chunks in it. I use a good amount of herbs in it now. I brought back the chicken-fried steak, too, because customers demanded it. It's a much better product now, too, made with real, house-made gravy.
Were those dishes your biggest challenges right off the bat?
No. My first big challenge was that when Patrice left, four employees left with her. We had to do some hiring -- fast! But it's all worked out. My immediate challenge right now is the breakfast menu. We're committed to making it a lot better. There's more competition in Brookside now. Even the Blue Grotto [a nearby pizza venue on Brookside Plaza] is serving breakfast on weekends now.
I want to add some fancier egg Benedict dishes to the menu. And maybe a stuffed French toast.
Patrice Welcher hired you, and after she left, you took her job. Where is Patrice now?
I last spoke to her in September. I honestly don't know where she's working now.
You worked at fast-food restaurants before going off to culinary school after high school, and you cooked for your family at home. But you said that going to culinary school actually changed the way you ate.
I weighed 350 pounds when I graduated from high school. When I went to the Scottsdale Culinary Institute, I finally learned to eat healthier. I was also working really hard, so I lost a lot of weight. I had broken my knee playing football my freshman year of high school, so I had gotten used to be inactive. In culinary school, I never stood still. I now weigh 220 pounds.
What have you added to the new Sharp's menu?
A very tender braised-short-rib dish with garlic mashed potatoes, a cavatappi pasta with a Gorgonzola cream sauce, and I changed our ribeye dinner. It's now a 12-ounce ribeye topped with a chipotle-brown-sugar compund butter and served with potato hash. I've also created two new desserts: a pumpkin white-chocolate cheesecake with a rum-caramel sauce and an apple bread pudding.
Since returning to Kansas City in 2005, you've been a waiter and a line cook. This job at Sharp's is your first executive chef position.
It's a lot of work and responsibility, but I've got to say, I'm really enjoying it.
Do you watch TV cooking shows?
Yes. I love Top Chef only because of all the crazy things they throw at the chefs.
Do you have a late-night guilty pleasure food that you probably wouldn't want anyone to know you ate?
Yes -- a greasy cheeseburger and tater tots from Chubby's on Broadway. But only very late.