When I asked Webster House’s executive chef why he wanted to become a chef, Brandon Winn chuckled. “I was in school to become an engineer but had worked in a kitchen since I was 15. The more I learned, the more I liked it. It just evolved.” Figuring things out, being precise, understanding quality, all remain as significant aspects of this chef.
That serendipity continued because, he says, he was fortunate enough to work with some fine chefs on his way up. He started at the Kansas City Country Club as an apprentice, then was at Room 39 as sous chef and then chef de cuisine for a total of almost nine years, then a brief hiatus before he went to Webster House beginning in 2015 as sous chef and taking over there in January, 2016.
Winn likes the smaller restaurant mentality, even though Webster House has some very large events where his kitchen obviously plays a very large role. He has worked with local farmers for a long time, and creating additional and maintaining those relationships is important to him. The challenges of a chef are many he says, but he truly enjoys seeing his staff grow and learn. That’s not to say that conveying his thoughts and processes to his staff is always easy, however.
The hardest thing about his job, which I’ve heard from other chefs, too: having a balance between his personal and work time. It’s nights, weekends, holidays and generally many, many hours per day. It’s hard to control time – and it’s an industry where you must be dedicated, especially if you want to progress. But he’s philosophical about that, shrugging that it’s just part of the job.
When he’s not on the job, a favorite thing to do is to tweak either current or future recipes. The Sunday brunch menu shows some of those tweaks – and the Mother’s Day brunch is almost sold out and for good reason once you checkout the menu. He likes the creative side on more than recipes: the current series, 10 Chefs, 10 Countries, on Thursdays has proven very popular, with Greece, Israel, Peru, Hawaii, China, and Ethiopia, created by his talented team, remaining.
His menu changes frequently and relies on whatever is fresh. Right now that includes soft shell crab. I had them last night – tempura fried on a cushion of chana dal (the split kernel of a kind of chickpea) flavored with several ingredients that all in all, combined for a perfect dish. I was in love with this chef’s creation, that is certain. If you’ve not been to Webster House lately, you’re missing out. Truly.
Kansas City, MO 64108
Kansas City, MO 64108