Chefs Unplugged – This is KC

After a long day of feeding us, here’s how these pros unwind at home.

Story by Kimberly Stern

February 1, 2016

If you think food is the very last thing on these chefs’ minds after a grueling day preparing dishes for restaurant patrons, think again. Cooking is their thing. But forget the crisp white chef’s jacket: We get a glimpse of what these guys like to do in the privacy of their home kitchens, serving food to family and friends. Maybe even in their pajamas and slippers.

Rob Magee

Chef and Co-owner, Q39

Rob Magee high res

Regulars at this 39th Street barbecue destination marvel at the line of cooks and chefs turning out award-winning Kansas City barbecue, entrees and sides. And right in the midst of that frenzied choreographed mix is Q39 co-owner, restaurant veteran, lifetime member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and competitive barbecue stalwart Magee, overseeing the brisket, onion straws, white bean cassoulet and other mouthwatering fare. Magee’s love affair with meat extends into his home kitchen where he and wife and Q39 co-owner, Kelly, enjoy grilled masterpieces such as this gussied-up KC strip.

“My favorite meal to cook and eat at home is grilled KC strip with truffle butter. It’s easy to prepare and cook as long as you make the truffle butter and steak seasoning ahead of time,” Magee says.

Daniel Ehrhard

Chef de Cuisine, Michael Smith

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Attention to detail, creativity and craftsmanship are Daniel Ehrhard’s culinary signatures.

“My favorite dishes to create involve bold flavors, fresh herbs and well-balanced acidity. Plus, I’ve always been a very tactile and creative person. I enjoy being part of the dysfunctional family that working in a restaurant provides,” he says.  “Mostly I just realize how happy food makes people. Food connects people across so many barriers—we all gotta eat, right? I can talk to my African cabbie about goat stew, chat with that random guy at a bar about why fresh herbs are better than dry or inspire my family to be more thoughtful in daily dinner preparation.”

Ehrhard shares his Rock Shrimp & Root Vegetable Chowder recipe here.

Robert Padilla

Executive Chef, Trezo Mare

Born and raised in the Kansas City’s Northland, Robert Padilla enrolled in a culinary arts program at the age 16 where he was encouraged to work in a “from-scratch kitchen.” Hired as a pantry cook at Lidia’s, Padilla knew from the first time he donned a chef’s coat he had found his career path.

“The kitchen moved quickly and effortlessly with all hands working together, creating culinary art,” he says. “The ingredients are the heart of cooking; you need to understand the yin and yang of food. This means that contrasting flavors often create a perfect balance. Food grown close to home and naturally is always what I look for. Creating sustainability is a responsibility of every chef in my opinion. I want to create innovative and creative food, understanding that it is about pleasing the customer first. I want to create an environment that allows people to remember and experience time where friends, family, food and comfort all come together.”

We can’t think of a better way to bring people together than over his recipe for Roasted Chicken with Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprouts.

Timothy Jones

Executive Chef, Hollywood Casino

Tim Jones

Tim Jones brings a robust background in hospitality industry food service management and a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients to his position. In addition to an enthusiasm for serving more than 2,000 meals a day to guests at the casino’s five restaurants, Jones has a penchant for playing on the Xbox video game system. After directing a team of 150 employees all day, he retreats to a loveseat in his bedroom, puts on a headset and relaxes with games such as Call of Duty, Destiny, NBA Live and Grand Theft Auto. Although Jones knows his toughest competitors are 13-year-old boys who’ve just finished their seventh-grade math homework, he doesn’t care—it’s his escape from reality. When he’s done in the cyber world, Jones likes to whip up these chicken wings for his family.

Brian Aaron

Executive Chef, Tannin Wine Bar and Kitchen

Brian Aaron

Known for serving fresh, seasonal dishes at the popular Crossroads restaurant, Brian Aaron’s culinary point of view is simply eloquent.

“I’m not looking to change the world, but I want to offer food that comforts.” Fudge-stuffed peanut butter cookies are a Tannin mainstay—Aaron developed the ooey-gooey sweet treat as a sentimental tribute to his friend, mentor and one-time employer, late KC chef John McClure. “John inspired the peanut butter part of the recipe,” Aaron says. “Tannin serves about 100 orders of the cookie weekly, sometimes straight up, sometimes covered in caramel and chocolate sauce or maybe a la mode with a scoop of house-made ice cream. Comfort food, whether it’s what we grew up with or dishes we discover along the way, helps keep us grounded.”

Aaron’s mom tells a favorite story about when her son was four or five. “She says I came downstairs on a Saturday morning and she asked, ‘Hey kiddo, what would you like for breakfast?’ I replied, ‘Eggs.’  She said, ‘How would you like your eggs cooked?” To which I responded, ‘My way!’ and pushed a chair over to the stove, cooking the eggs just how I wanted them. Not long after that, I developed my first classic recipe that I still make at home at least a few times a year and at all family gatherings: Lox, eggs and onions.”