When Frank Sebree, the owner of the Majestic Restaurant -- that historic and haunted steakhouse at 931 Broadway -- was looking for a new associate chef for his jazz club/restaurant, he was surprised to receive a resume from a chef best known for cooking at the organic, all-natural Blue Bird Bistro. Chef Liz Huffman will join Sebree's culinary team in May; she was the head chef at Blue Bird from 2002 to 2007.
Huffman, Sebree points out, will not be replacing Majestic's executive chef, Jim Nelson, but "bringing other qualities to our menu and cuisine. I'm thinking that their individual talents will really complement each other."
Huffman starts at the Majestic on May 5 -- "Just in time for the Mother's Day brunch," she says -- and hasn't even sat down to talk to Nelson yet. "This all came about very quickly," says Huffman, who found the job on Craigslist and was immediately hired by Sebree. "I don't want Jim's job or to be an executive chef. I'm the primary caretaker for my mother, so I really can't be working 80 hours a week any more."
Sebree says he was most impressed by Huffman's talents in creating the original brunch menu for Blue Bird Bistro. Sebree wants to kick-start his restaurant's breakfast business, particularly on weekdays, and believes Huffman's skills will attract new customers. "I think Liz will be the perfect fit for our culinary team," Sebree says.
Huffman left Kansas City in 2007 to care for her father, who was dying of bladder cancer: "Jane Zieha-Bell (the owner of the Blue Bird Bistro) was incredibly kind to me and gave me a six-month leave of absence so I could go to Maryland, care for my father and take care of some other issues, like my parents' home burning down. When I came back to Kansas City, Jane offered to let me return to the Blue Bird, but I had brought my mother with me and I needed a break from working in restaurants."
For the last three years, Huffman has been cooking at a long-term care facility in Edwardsville. She liked the challenge of creating healthy meals for the residents and the less frenetic pace, but she decided it was time to return to the Kansas City restaurant community.
"I had really fond memories of going to eat at the Majestic on one of my few nights off," Huffman says. "I love the history of that building and the idea that it's both a jazz club and a steakhouse. I'm really very excited about going to work with Jim and the staff."