Nestled in the Crossroads Arts District and just east [down the hill] from the Kaufmann Center for the Performing Arts] Webster House offers both retail shopping [antiques to jewelry and clothing] as well as a casual fine dining restaurant. The entire 2nd floor of this historic brick school building houses dining space that offers lunch and dinner, Sunday Brunch, drinks on the seasonal patio in the side yard, as well as being an excellent private event venue. All of their amazing food service is overseen by Executive Chef Brandon Winn, another relatively new face in the KC Originals culinary family.
Chef Brandon began his career working at Minsky's as a teenager and the love of the food industry he picked up there inspired him to pursue further training in the Culinary Arts program at Johnson County Community College followed by a 5 year apprenticeship at the Kansas City Country Club where he honed his banquet & event skills. He moved into the independent restaurant scene under the watchful eye of Howard Hanna with an 8 year stint at Room 39. In late 2015 came on board at Webster House just in time to learn their business just as Chef Matt Arnold was transitioning out; turning over the EC duties to Brandon.
He is what one might call a "thoughtful" chef, not only trained in the fundamentals but someone who ponders carefully the dynamic between eating and cooking. He doesn't just pay lip service to trendy terms like "sustainability" and "farm to table" but he works diligently to buy products not just locally but to establish relationships with farmers who grow and pick their own produce. He mentors his culinary team by taking them to visit farms and see the labor intensity of the production to help them appreciate the value of the meals they prepare. Helping his team make full use of all the freshness at their disposal and "capitalizing on the nutrient denseness of ingredients and allowing it to shine through" with simple yet appetizing combinations and presentation is what gets Chef Brandon out of bed every morning.
He knows that engaging and inviting new guests as well as pleasing the regulars is a big challenge for every restaurant these days and part of that involves making sure the menus are accessible and approachable. Chef Brandon has experimented with hosting Farmer's Markets on Webster House grounds and while that effort has only had moderate success so far, he is hopeful it is a program that will continue to grow. Starting in June he envisions a regular "Farm Dinner" showcasing local producers in menu items. Another developing success story has been the '10 Chefs - 10 Countries" program [just wrapped up] that provided an opportunity for his culinary team members to create menus from the cuisines of different countries from around the world. "Folks seem to enjoy exploring and expanding their food horizons," chef says.
We asked Chef to tells us about how he unwinds and relaxes on his days off and he tells us that he loves to snowboard in the Winter, and biking in the Summer - "pretty much anything outdoors." As for guilty [or not] food pleasures, Brandon says he really enjoys searching out the best "street tacos" in the city and different types of oriental food; and he's a big fan of apps and small plates. He said his favorite venues are too numerous to list but he likes to develop a "relationship with the food and those who prepare it." Some places he frequents often because he knows anything he orders will probably be to his liking - a good tip for anyone who enjoys dining out.
Finally we asked him to give us a heads up about things to watch out for in the near future and he thought we should highlight the new Lunch menu that will debut soon, the Summer Farm Dinner, of course; and on April 12th, a spectacular Orin Swift Wine Dinner [5 courses and wine pairings]. "Oh, and don't forget the 1/2 price Appetizers on Wednesdays - it's a great way for new folks to get a feel for what Webster House dining can offer." Sounds like a plan to us!