Executive Chef at Cafe Sebastienne
Less than 6 months on the job and Wichita native Chef Remy Ayesh is already creating food art at the iconic Cafe Sebastienne restaurant located inside the Kemper Museum. An avid food writer, athlete and art lover Chef Remy started out to be a writer working on her degree at KU, then studied in Spain where she discovered she appreciated their simple, organic approach to food and their love of life that is “larger than life” with food and art as cornerstones. “Simple ingredients of high quality – the best to be found – and presented artfully” became a guiding principle when she returned to the USA and started exploring the food scene and building her career as a chef with a Culinary Arts Degree.
She waited tables, bartended and moved into cooking duties in New York with a long stint at “Cru” [discovering the intimate relationship between food and wine]; then moved on to Chicago. On the advice of Master Sommelier Richard Betz she journeyed to “Little Nell” in Aspen , CO and mentoring by Chef Ryan Hardy who was known for his farm to table cuisine and in house charcuterie. Returning to Chicago the journey to find her own culinary voice continued and Remy helped open “Rootstock” as their Executive Chef. This tapas and wine bar received critical acclaim, giving Remy a great confidence boost. Recruited by Bread and Butter concepts for work in Kansas City in 2016, Chef determined that the challenges offered by Cafe Sebastienne as they were undertaking to continue the legacy created by the much loved Jennifer Maloney would be a better fit for her own philosophy and style.
It appears to us that Chef Remy will be an excellent fit indeed. She loves to talk about art, how it has influenced her life and cooking [she owns a very rare illustrated cookbook by 1940’s surrealist Salvador Dali] and how it continues to energize her – particularly the vibrant, eclectic, and often raw art scene in the West bottoms where you might find her on her day off. She told us how much she appreciates the uniqueness of the Kemper as a culinary venue, Jennifer Maloney’s stellar reputation and heritage, as well as her hopes to strengthen the “marriage bonds between the museum and the culinary operation.” She would love to see menu specials and even a dinner series that is inspired by works in the collection and exhibits.
With respect to menus Remy says patron will see the slow introduction of Spanish, Italian and Mediterranean influences [menu items and ingredients]; house-made pastas – as well as movement in the direction of lighter, healthier fare. Chef is quick to add how much she respects the skills and creativity of her culinary team and how they will also influence menu and ingredient choices as well. Her recommendations for Cafe Sebastienne menu items guest should explore came swiftly. “Absolutely try the “Chicken Liver Mousse,” a creamy take on the more traditional pate. It’s a recipe I brought from Aspen with my own special touches.” Of course any seafood dish is also recommended. “We procure whole, fresh fish and butcher it ourselves – it can’t be any better than that.”
Cafe Sebastienne is known for lunch on weekdays, dinners Thursday & Friday and a terrific Sunday brunch which is now also available on Saturday. They also host some terrific private events and we can only imagine the artful delicacies that would be part of those experiences. We’ve sampled the menu as it is currently evolving and cannot wait for more. Chef tells us that “guests will see a respect for the legacy but also explorations into culinary arenas that grow that legacy, refine it, and propel the Cafe and the museum to new heights. Her confidence is not only reassuring but engaging. Time for you to visit the Cafe and taste Chef Remy Ayesh’s culinary art!