Monday, March 7, 2016

What’s a Boxer Doing in the Kitchen?

Chef Spotlight: Zeb Humphrey 


Zeb Humphrey of North Italia, admits he is basically pleased with the progress he and his Leawood restaurant have made this last year. Fox Restaurant Concepts, with nearly 60 restaurants to its brand, lured him away from Cleaver & Cork a few months ago, and he’s happy he made the move. “I like that it’s steady, somewhat predictable, and the attention to quality and to the customer experience is extremely high and consistent,” he says.  The intensity of the restaurant’s commitment to their diners is of particular importance to him.

Humphrey has a lot of experience packed into his resume. In high school, he worked in a pizza place but never thought about being a chef.  He had friends at JCCC and they encouraged him to enter the culinary program, which he did.  He dropped out, a move he looks back on with a bit of regret.  But, he says, “I immediately began working with great chefs and teams all over town, learned so much, read a lot, asked a million questions. My hard work eventually paid off, so it’s all good now.” He loved being in the kitchen, loved cooking, loved the spontaneity and creativity possible. Eventually he found himself as the executive chef for the National Golf Club and Tavern in the Village, among others, before Cleaver & Cork.

What he enjoys most now is developing his team and growing with them, despite the bustle and organized chaos of the “back of the house” which is really in plain view at North. He used to get into the ring, yes boxing, a few times a week, but with a wife (3rd grade teacher) and seven year old daughter and cheffing in a place open about 60 hours a week, he barely has time for another favorite pastime, reading.  His favorite meal there?  Any of several pastas on the menu, all made from scratch, or something they create on the spot. You can see that creativity in the daily specials at the restaurant whether it’s pizza or soup or a main dish – but you’ll want to try the tried and true and delicious zucca chips as well.


NoRTH Italia
4579 West 119th Street 
Leawood, KS 66209 
Ph. 913.232.5191 

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