Chef Josh Eans takes a break from planning out the new menu at Blanc Burgers + Bottles, which is set to roll out at the end of this month. He only wants to add a few dishes, extensions of what has been created over the past three years at the burger joint.
"People want a different experience when they came here. I don't want to lose that by making big changes," Eans says.
Yesterday, Eans explained that Blanc's success has been a surprise and that his love of spicy foods is shared with his son, Elliot. Tomorrow, he will reveal more about the new menu items at Blanc and what he would have for his last burger meal.
What are your culinary inspirations? For our new menu, I tried to round it out a bit and find items that we don't have. People have asked us for a chicken sandwich, and I've been kind of anti-chicken-sandwich for a while. For me, when I go out, I don't want to eat chicken. Chicken is something I'll have at home with my family. That's why we initially had turkey. But I think we're going to have a good chicken option in our Chicken Caprese. It's got fresh goat cheese and basil aioli. I wanted to listen to our guests and make sure we're introducing new things without losing our attitude or spunkiness.
There's another burger we're thinking about adding: the Oscar Burger. It's a take on surf and turf with the classic steakhouse preparation. We'll put jumbo lump crab on a Kobe burger. The crab is warmed up in butter. We'll grill asparagus and make a bearnaise aioli. I'm thinking we'll run it this weekend. The gourmet burger place is almost like the new steakhouse for our times. We don't have expense accounts. And with burgers being the new steak, I'm hoping I can make a connection with the Oscar Burger.
What's your favorite ingredient? Bacon. Bacon's the perfect food -- smoky, salty, rich.
What's your best recent food find? The pork tenderloin sandwich at Kitty's Café -- one of my favorite things to eat in the city. It's so satisfying -- three crispy layers of pork, three times the crunch, hot sauce. It's not even on a nice bun or garnish. It's just always perfectly crispy, and with the hot sauce, it's so good.
What's your favorite local ingredient? Shatto cheese curds. Those things are tasty. I've been to Wisconsin and had cheese curds there. I know it's a really big deal. And Shatto's are every bit as good as the cheese curds I had in Wisconsin. They're squeaky; it's impressive. They're also our number one appetizer at the restaurant. I'm so appreciative of having a dairy like Shatto. There's not a lot of them left in our country.
What's one food you hate? I don't really hate anything.
What's one food you love? My favorite food memories always have a special steak dinner involved. We used to have a steak on special occasions with mushrooms cooked in a lot of butter and garlic. And steamed whole artichokes -- we'd each get our own artichoke. You'd soak it in butter and salt and then eat the heart. And there was probably a baked potato in there somewhere.
What's your guilty pleasure? Chicken wings from the Peanut, just hot. I've been known to eat a whole order by myself. The next day, my stomach is doing flips. I'll gorge myself and just keep eating. It's the same thing when I eat barbcue. Nice beans and burnt ends, I'll just eat until I should really stop, or until I fall asleep. My other guilty pleasure is always really good beer. I love beer almost as much as food. I build vacations around beer, taking trips with my guy friends. There's nothing better than enjoying a nice beer with friends.
What's never in your kitchen? Heinz ketchup.
What's always in your kitchen? An assorted mix of hot sauces. I love Cholula. That's what we use at the restaurant. It's sweet and spicy, salty and vinegary. I like Sriracha, too. I'm just not partial to the Louisiana hot sauces. They're too one-note.
What have you seen in other cities that you would like to see in KC? A lot has happened over the five years we've been here. The restaurant scene is moving beyond barbecue. I'd like to see more restaurants like Bluestem or Pot Pie in Westport. Places that are neighborhoody, almost like a pub or gastropub. Nice food that's affordable -- the kind of place you want to eat once a week. It would have to use local ingredients and celebrate Kansas City -- places like the Rieger. I think more of them will be coming. I think we could use a few more good Thai restaurants and high-end Mexican or Latin places.
If you're not at Blanc, where else do you like to eat? Happy Gillis. We live so far away, but it's the one place we'll drive across town for. We go for breakfast on a Sunday. I'll get biscuits and gravy with two fried eggs on top and douse it in hot sauce. We also like Korma Sutra for Indian food. I'm ordering the lamb curry.
If you could steal one recipe in town off anybody else's menu? I'd steal Colby [Garrelts'] foie gras torchon. I would just like to see how he makes it. The texture is really nice, and it's always so smooth and beautiful and tasty.
One book that every chef should read. The French Laundry Cookbook [by Thomas Keller and Deborah Jones]. It's a huge inspiration to chefs of my generation. It's a good resource for techniques and tips. The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection [by Michael Ruhlman]. I really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes stuff, reading about the Master Chef exam at the CIA and Michael Simon. It was about seeing how things really worked.
Who's got the best barbecue in town, and what are you ordering? Burnt ends at LC's. They're frigging tasty. And there's a little tiny place in Belton called Snead's (1001 E. 171st St.) I haven't been there in a while, but they serve the real burnt ends -- the actual pieces of crispy fat that have been rendered down, not just chopped-up brisket. And they only have a certain amount before they run out. Those were fantastic. For pork, it's Oklahoma Joe's. The pulled pork or Z-Man. And I still like Jack Stack's beans. I liked sweet, smoked baked beans with big chunks of meat.
A chef is only as good as ... two things: He's only as good as his ingredients and he's only as good as his last meal.