Restaurant Guide of KC™ - Kansas City Food + Travel Blog

One Great Chef: Matt Barnes

One thing I like and appreciate about the restaurant industry is that it is possible to rise from dishwasher to chef to even owner over a period of time.  While Matt Barnes, Executive Chef of Pierpont’s, didn’t exactly do that, he did begin 13 years ago as a chef’s apprentice and through his hard work, attention to detail, creativity and he added, luck, he managed to, as he put it, “Work my way up for a great company in a great job.”
 Matt Barnes - Pierpont's Restaurant
Matt and I sat in the iconic bar the other day, drinkless alas but not deliberately as part of my less drink regimen.  We talked about his position, his life, and his restaurant – which he regards as too hidden away to be a KC regulars’ spot.  I have to say, I think Pierpont’s has the most beautiful bar in town, and as I thoroughly perused the happy hour and other menus, I concluded, like most of Kansas City should, that I ought to come here more often.

I asked him what was the hardest chunk of his work and he said he thrives on creativity, loves the control he’s been given there, doesn’t mind the pressure, but it’s that he has a (great) kitchen full of strong personalities from all different cultures.  It’s like a rambunctious family and he has to keep it all together – and still be the kind of boss everyone wants to work for.  But those occasionally clashing cultures also provide another benefit to him – his favorite meals there are the ones the “other guys make.  Lamb barbacoa he says was the best thing ever – or a pot of something from their country.  Homestyle.  Mostly, I eat as I go . . .” 

When he’s not at work, he and his family (wife plus a 9-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter who just got her first knife) like to eat out at all kinds of different and new places – reflecting that cultural awareness which is now a part of his every-day life. He does some cooking at home – mostly light pasta dishes for his picky eaters.  But there’s not much time to do that or much else other than family and house since he works six or seven days a week and the hours are as grueling as you might imagine.  Just keeping up with the changes in his industry and imagining new takes on dishes keep him busy.

I asked Chef Barnes what people need to know about his restaurant that they don’t.  He laughed and said, “That we’re here.”  I looked askance because to me everyone knows about this beautiful, iconic restaurant sitting in Union Station.  He said, “We have no signage outside.  Tourists see us more than Kansas Citians do.  We’re full for special events or holidays but otherwise, I think we fall out of people’s memory too easily.”  He could be right -- who knew braised rabbit on the Pierpont’s menu has become such a staple he can’t take it off? Or that during happy hour (3-6 p.m.) you can get a filet, garlic whipped potatoes, asparagus with cognac demi-glace for 15 bucks?

I said it once and I’ll say it again. We should all come here more often.  

30 West Pershing
Kansas City, MO 64108
Ph. (816) 221-5111
Located in Historic Union Station
Pierpont's at Union Station Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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