Combe says he doesn't know where Brocato went, and he's looking for a new chef. Brocato, meanwhile, says his "philosophical differences" with Combe had been "building for a long time."
Brocato and Williamson aren't looking for work in other restaurant kitchens. They've already formed a company with another former Café des Amis employee, Kristen Lamorie, and the three hope to open their own restaurant early this summer. They're planning on calling the place AKA, a name that signifies more than their combined first initials. The acronym for also known as represents the proposed restaurant's free-form concept.
"We can be anything we want to be," Brocato says. "We don't ever want to be pigeonholed as one specific kind of restaurant. We plan to be very involved in the Kansas City arts community and want to use our venue as a place for performing arts, gallery shows, musical concerts. That's why it's so exciting to find a place in the Crossroads District."
Brocato and his partners are negotiating with downtown developer Brad Nicholson to rent half of the long-empty, rehabbed brick-and-glass space at the corner of 17th and Baltimore. Brocato says the trio's initial plans are to open a fifty-seat restaurant on one side of the building and use the other half for art shows and performances.
Brocato -- who now caters private parties -- plans to launch the AKA Web site (www.en-saison.com) this month. On it, he'll post recipes, seasonal food advice and webcam photos of how work on the restaurant is proceeding. "By showing our progress on the Web," Brocato says, "we can build a clientele that actually watches us grow and evolve. By the time the restaurant opens and they walk through the door, they'll feel they've been a part of it all."
Brocato hopes to be there opening night -- not fighting in Iraq. The 33-year-old former Marine says he's still on recall status. "They can call me up at any time. So, yes, there's the possibility of deployment for me."