"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.