When Waldo Pizza owner Phil Bourne wanted to offer pasta dishes to its popular line of pizzas, he recruited kitchen manager/chef Reed Plumb.
Plumb, who began working at Waldo Pizza in fall 2012, formerly worked with Chef Michael Smith at Extra Virgin and Chef Alex Pope at R Bar. He also worked in the kitchen at Tannin Wine Bar and The Brasserie at Aixois.
“They taught me how to do the fundamentals,” says Plumb of his mentors. “I learned how to prepare foods and pair foods with wine.”
Plumb moved to Kansas City from Pittsburgh, Kansas. Prior to the move, he had no cooking experience. Chef Smith was the first person to call Plumb when he was looking for work in the culinary field after settling in KC.
“Michael taught me the basics and knife skills. I learned about products and how to use them in a dish to techniques like sous vide cooking,” says Plumb. “Alex taught me about mother sauces. He challenged me by having me work with different cuts of meat to develop my knowledge of cooking methods and techniques.”
At Waldo Pizza, Plumb is tasked with developing the restaurant’s pasta program. While the plan is to produce pasta in-house by 2013, the kitchen has begun using pasta made from a local supplier. Meanwhile, Bourne and Plumb are evaluating pasta-making equipment, costs, and production.
“We offer pasta such as lasagna and cavatappi served with alfredo or marinara sauce. The pasta can be served with meat, vegan, and gluten-free,” says Plumb. “The customer can create any type of pasta they want using our ingredients.”
This evolution of Waldo Pizza’s menu isn’t new. Over the years, Bourne has continued to tweak recipes, add menu items, and adapt to customer’s dietary needs such as gluten-free offerings. The addition of fresh pasta offers diners a wider range to choose from when not in the mood for pizza.
The kitchen team is also developing fresh made ricotta and mozzarella for its dishes. Pasta salads will be incorporated into the menu as well ranging from classic Mediterranean with feta and Kalamata olives to a cold-smoked, pan-cooked noodle salad with fresh vegetables and a red wine vinaigrette.
The new offerings will hopefully expand the appeal of Waldo Pizza as more than a homegrown restaurant known for its pizza, salad bar, and selection of beers in the Tap Room next door. The spacious Tap Room adjacent to the main restaurant is a popular place for local beer aficionados. The beer selection purposely includes a wide variety of craft and limited edition brews that have an interesting flavor or origin.
“We want to get regular customers and new customers to try the new items,” says Plumb.
Once the pasta program is established, Plumb wants to offer wine and food pairings to introduce guests to a wider selection of food on the menu. He says, “I”m trying to elevate the food to a higher class. We’ll do all of our preparation from scratch in house, but it takes time. Nothing happens overnight.”