"How do you want your eggs? My way, right?" This is how Chef Brian Aaron of Tannin Wine Bar + Kitchen started our conversation about his culinary background and approach to food. "You see, when I was a small boy I started experimenting with cooking making breakfast and usually the whole family would end up eating what I made instead of their own." His father also encouraged his food interest, often taking him on spur of the moment restaurant trips to find the "best" and "different" that Kansas City had to offer - whatever the menu concept - BBQ, fried chicken, pasta, corned beef or pastrami sandwiches, etc. That creative drive and the never-ending search for what is special and unique has been a driving force for Chef Brian throughout his career.
The resume is long, varied & distinguished. Launched by a summer job in HS [in order to buy a mountain bike], Brian has learned from every culinary experience and grown his childhood love of cooking to a full blown adult passion. At Colorado State he majored in Hospitality & Restaurant Management, which he quickly followed up with an Associates in Culinary Arts from the prestigious Johnson & Wales University where he was a member of their award winning competition team. After a stint at the Brown Palace Hotel, he returned to KC and helped a friend open Pot Pie in Westport, then on to Zin as a sous chef, followed by working side by side with the incredible John McClure at Starker's Restaurant. Brian was lured away from KC briefly to help create the menu and open up Theo's in Fayetteville, AR [which still sports some of his best creations] but he soon returned home to KC and was on hand when JP Wine Bar in the Crossroads was re-branded in February 2011 as Tannin Wine Bar + Kitchen.
In his spare time, Chef Brian likes to play golf, a sport he shares with his Dad when can, and he is also an avid Chiefs fan. From the sounds of it tailgating is his favorite part and he is well known for hosting themed parties that are take offs on the Visiting teams and their local cuisines. He said the Cleveland Browns were one of the greatest challenges!
Tannin is celebrating their 5th Anniversary Year and was just named one of 435 Magazine's Best of KC. They were lauded not only for their exceptional wine list [25 pages] but for the menu, the write up saying: "The wide selection of wine is just as important here as the decadent food." Signature items like the Executive Burger and Lobster Risotto, Crispy Pork Cheeks & Kim Chi. and lots more keep visitors coming back to this inviting & stylish Crossroads venue. Chef Brian says one great challenge is keeping the menu fresh & seasonal and as creative as he likes using local produce and Farmers Market fresh. Signature items can take up space on a menu that cries out [in his culinary ears] for a new way to prepare, a palate of what just arrived in the marketplace. The Tannin solution for guests who mourn the loss of one of "their" staple items is to bring them back as a special & notify folks by email of the limited offering.
Chef says one item that they will "always" have is the decadent Chocolate Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies [made fresh daily]. They are a homage to Brian's friend and mentor John McClure [he created the peanut butter half of the recipe]. They are a must have dessert at Tannin and rich enough to share with a friend, BUT you won't want to. Regular wine features keep folks coming back, and the $5 wine special [by the glass] at lunch every day is a great bargain. Their knowledgeable staff will help you pair and explore great wines for all of Chef Brian's tantalizing creations. Be brave, live a culinary adventure, and try Chef Brian Aaron's "my way" take on life and dining!