Dining » Fat Mouth

On the Move

Two new restaurants have San Francisco connections.

Food type:American

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Chefs move around like nomads. As soon as I get used to one talented young chef working at a chic downtown location, the phone rings with news that he's moved out to the suburbs. Or farther, as in the case of Jeff Scott, the 28-year-old former executive chef at the now-defunct Zin. Scott has turned up in Smithville, Missouri, of all places, as the sous-chef for a stylish little restaurant called Drugstore. Less than a month old, the 66-seat bistro was created by designer-turned-chef Jonathan Justus and his partner, Camille Eklof, in downtown Smithville's Art Moderne building, which housed the Justus Drugstore from 1955 to 2001. Jonathan's mother ran that family pharmacy for 45 years.

"Before that, my grandfather owned a pharmacy around the corner," Justus says. He and Eklof moved back to the Midwest from San Francisco, where he had cooked at The Liberties.

Another young chef who caught a plane to Kansas City and stayed is the spiky-haired blond guy running around the Hotel Phillips in a white cotton jacket. Marshall Roth took over culinary duties at the historic hotel a few months ago, after a 10-month gig as a culinary consultant for the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Before that, Roth was executive chef for the Sky Hotel in Aspen. "It's a party hotel," Roth says of the Sky Hotel. "And you'd see everyone in there eating and drinking — Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Kate Hudson."

Roth decided to settle for a spell in Kansas City because his father, a retired Air Force colonel, now lives in Lawrence.

"I like Kansas City a lot," he says. "I don't find it slow-paced or unsophisticated at all." Roth likes to roam around the city's museums. "My food is influenced by art. I get more inspiration from a Warhol than a cookbook."

Since taking over as executive chef, Roth has done a good job spiffing up the fare in the Phillips Chophouse and the street-level lounge known as 12 Baltimore, where he has added the most decadent hamburger ever. "I use very lean ground beef, but I add duck fat for this rich flavor," he says. "It tastes incredible, but it's probably not too good for your cholesterol."

I'll have one with fries. And if it's too rich, I'll go to the Drugstore in Smithville for a nice pastry to settle my stomach.

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