It didn't take long for Entertainment Concept Investors, the Cordish Company's restaurant and club division, to lure at least one high-profile chef from a competing downtown venue. Marshall Roth, the former executive chef for the two restaurants in the Hotel Phillips — 12 Baltimore and the Phillips Chophouse — turned in his white jacket at the hotel shortly before Thanksgiving to take a consulting role with ECI.
"Right now, I'm there to help open up properties and, hopefully, take over one of the restaurant operations as executive chef," Roth told me last week.
"I really loved working at the Phillips," Roth said, "and I'm really proud of what we did there with the dining operations. But I moved to the Kansas City area from San Francisco so that I could work and also be closer to my father. But at the Phillips, it was all work. I was putting in 80 hours a week and not taking any days off. And if I did take a day off, I felt ridiculed. I was the highest-ranking manager on the property, so if there was a security issue at 2 a.m., I got the phone call."
It's unusual that a chef would be getting questions about hotel security, but Roth also lived in the hotel so he could roll out of bed and take care of most problems. Even housekeeping issues.
Roth took a couple of weeks off before going to work with chef Jeff Heyde at the newly opened McFadden's Sports Saloon and Vinino. "I'm still working 80 hours a week," he said, laughing, "but it's a lot more rewarding to be opening up new restaurants in this project. The Power & Light District is really awesome, and things are going very well."
Although Roth hasn't put his imprint on any of the dishes at Vinino or McFadden's, he hopes to add his signature hamburger — made with lean beef and duck fat (which won "Best Hamburger" honors in The Pitch's "Best of Kansas City" issue this year) — to the McFadden's menu soon.
His new job required him to permanently check out of his room in the Hotel Phillips and move to an apartment.
"I'm living on the Plaza right now," Roth said, "but I can't wait to move back downtown. I want to walk to work again." And, presumably, not have to answer the phone at 2 a.m.