"Excellence comes from doing something every day," Chatfield says.
Yesterday, he talked about the heyday of the Hallmark company kitchen. Tomorrow he'll share five kitchen essentials for the home cook.
What are your culinary inspirations?
I love every aspect of the meal, so I usually look at a theme. Whether it's a French or tapas theme, I look at my favorite recipes. Those are the 'oh my god' recipes. The ones where people eat them and can't stop. We've got an apricot chutney for brie that people can't stay out of ... it's something I've been doing for five or six years. I look for new recipes, but I never want to replace those 'oh my god' ones because people are still cleaning their plate.
What’s your favorite ingredient?
Chocolate. Belgian chocolate. There's so many different good chocolates — it's like wine with all of those different layers of flavor. You can have five different things in your mouth over five minutes, first tasting coffee, then fruit, then nuts. Bacon is a close second.
What was your best recent food find?
I've been playing with huckleberries. I grew some in my garden this year and last year. I've been messing around with sauces. It's not native, but I stuck it in my garden and I'm trying to figure out how to cook with them. It's a new and interesting ingredient for me.
What’s your favorite local ingredient?
Tomatoes. I think we have a great climate for tomatoes. I grow some pretty good tomatoes — San Marzanos for sauce and romas for a great Italian BLT with apple bacon and red pepper aioli. The most outlandish thing I've probably made is spiced tomato jam for our canning class.
What’s one food you hate?
I like veggies. I like fruits. But I hate lima beans. It's the dry texture. That was the only vegetable I wouldn't eat growing up. You can try to jazz it up with some corn as a succotash, but I'll just pick out the corn.
What’s one food you love?
Real Asian cuisine. There are some good Asian restaurants around town that serve American Chinese like cashew chicken or General Tso's. I love places that give you your meat and fish separate from your rice and vegetables, where it's all served family style. You build a plate rather than have it all stir-fried together with sauce dumped on it. It can be something as simple as lamb satay or drunken steamed chicken.
Besides your own place, where do you like to eat out?
Our favorites are Extra Virgin and Bluestem. At Extra Virgin, we get carried away with tapas. Last time we were there, we got 12 tapas, and as we were walking out, I was like, why did we do that? But it was so much fun. It's an adventurous menu with the crispy pig ear salad. There's nothing we won't try. Since we've both worked at clubs and hotels, it's hard to look at a menu and not see things we don't know how to cook. I'm always looking for something that we don't cook. At Bluestem, there's not a thing I don't like. The braised short ribs and the dessert platters done by Megan [Garrelts] are works of art. We like going to ethnic restaurants. We go to lots of spots where there are mostly Asian families. The ABC Cafe and Lucky Wok for the soft-shell crab tempura. I'll ask for the Chinese menu and some suggestions. And then Frida's is just phenomenal.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Bacon. I love good bacon, not that wimpy flavorless bacon. I want apple-smoked thick bacon. I've been playing around with seared pork belly and pork cheek, working on a tail-to-snout approach.
What’s always in your kitchen?
Olive oil, soy sauce. Kecap manis [a sweet Indonesian soy sauce] — that's my favorite condiment. Good coffee, something from the Roasterie, a dark French roast.
What's your pet peeve when you go out to eat?
I hate someone passing off something preprepared as house-made. Oh, yes, we make our own tiramisu. But I know exactly what it looks like. I'm a chef. I make this stuff. So, don't lie to me and tell me it's homemade. I don't mind if it's not. I just want to know.
What’s one book that every chef should read?
How not to be too full of yourself? [Laughs.] The Joy of Cooking or Julia Child's The Art of French Cooking. The Joy of Cooking covers everything. There's a couple of cookbooks that say we're the new Joy of Cooking. But then you get them, and you realize they're not.
Who’s got the best barbecue in town, and what are you ordering?
We don't go out for barbecue here because we have Larry [Hadley] the barbecue guy. He's a senior judge with the Kansas City Barbeque Society. He cooks all the barbecue for the center. He understands barbecue, tweaking sauces and rubs. His pulled pork is the best. We had a throwdown this spring for our open house among six chefs, and Larry won.
A chef is only as good as … the support around him.