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One Great Chef: Jeff Dietzler

One Great Chef:  Jeff Dietzler

Back at the end of September, a friend and I went to Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar and were treated royally.  We had about six different things on the menu, and honestly, all were terrific.  Shortly after, I spent some time with Jeff Dietzler, chef de cuisine there and we had a great conversation about him, his views, his challenges; oh, let’s just say his life in general.   

Jeff is a pretty determined and motivated guy I concluded.  He grew up in St. Louis and then went to Johnson and Wales University in their culinary school in Denver.  He worked in Denver for ten years and then for three years at the local Jax, gradually working his way up the ladder.  He transferred to Kansas City to open up the restaurant here and became chef de cuisine in the spring of this year.

Jeff said that this current position puts much of what he learned at school to work – the scheduling, costing, management skills – and the only part he might feel sad about is that he’s not so continually in the kitchen actually cooking.  Imagine, there are people who love to cook, not just eat! He even likes to cook at home where he says there’s no pressure, just relaxation.  His bike riding also helps with that relaxation thing.

The chief challenge for Jeff is one I hear often though not phrased with the word perfection that often.  “I want to create a perfect experience for every single guest who walks through the door. Everyone has to work harmoniously for any order to be perfect.”  He also noted that Kansas City eaters are becoming more adventuresome in their dining choices, which gives him a greater chance to be creative.  What gets him up, happy, each morning, is “the daily challenge I know is coming and the chance to be with the smart, dedicated co-workers.  That’s good because I see them more than friends or family.”

Jeff made some changes back then on a menu that changes seasonally, so I don’t know if the lobster corndogs are still on the menu.  And I hope the steak tartare is.  Their pastas are all made freshly (try the crab carbonara) and their Brussels sprouts are too good.  . You’re probably getting the idea you don’t HAVE to get fish there, even though their fish is uniformly excellent.  Jeff really likes its flexibility, health benefit, and the fact Jax is one of the very few restaurants certified by the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch. 

A restaurant is only as good as its people and its food.  No wonder Jax at the west end of the Plaza doesn’t need to fish for compliments.  It does well, deservedly so. Kudos, Jeff.

Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar
4814 Roanoke Pkwy 
Kansas City, MO 64112 
Ph. (816) 437-7940 
Located in the Polsinelli Building

Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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