Atlanta native Charles D'Ablaing was well-known in Kansas City for his Southern-style fried chicken, so it was no surprise when he opened Brookside Poultry Co. last February.
D'Ablaing, who also served as executive chef at Rosso, Chaz on the Plaza and Webster House, is now ready to open another concept just as Brookside Poultry Co. celebrates its first birthday: a steakhouse called Brookside Beef Co.
The steakhouse, set to open in early 2019, will be two blocks down from Brookside Poultry Co., and will feature the same idea as the chicken-centric spot. Instead of a 48-hour, sour cream-brined bird, however, D'Ablaing will serve a selection USDA Prime cuts and Certified Angus Beef (CAB) cuts, plus classic steakhouse dishes such as crab-stuffed shrimp with Béarnaise sauce.
We caught up with D'Ablaing to talk about his new concept, where to eat in Kansas City, Kansas, and why you shouldn't worry about kitchen "tricks."
What is your favorite ingredient to cook with and why? Right now, it’s chicken! [laughs] I always tell people my favorite is salt. Salt and pepper – just your general seasoning. You aren’t going to have a good dish without it. You can pretend you will. Say somebody comes in here and says, "This chicken's got so much flavor, it's got this, it's got that." Obviously, there's other things I do to it, but there's also a huge amount of salt and pepper in there, and it helps you receive other things on the palate. And it’s the difference in, in my opinion, most any restaurant, is [the use of] salt and pepper.
Do you have a secret weapon spice/ingredient/technique? You know, not necessarily. A lot of other people out there talk about the tricks and everything. You know, I’ve won plenty of awards on salt and pepper. It boils down to proper technique – if you’re gonna take a tough piece of meat and you want it to be great, you’re gonna braise it down. But you gotta braise it properly. If you wanna take a piece of chicken and fry it, you’ve gotta do the right things to it before you fry it instead of just the right things to it when you fry it. People get too caught up in tricks and they forget technique.
What's your perfect day of eating in Kansas City? I’d have to go to Jarocho [Pescados y Mariscos]. Just cause one, he’s [Carlos Falcon] a friend of mine, and two, he does a fantastic job with seafood and I love seafood. You know, I enjoy cooking at home so much for myself and the family that it's hard for me to – I love Colby [Garrelts], I love Bluestem, I like going to Rye every once in a while. One of my favorite things is San Antonio Market in KCK off Kansas Ave. So I would actually probably make that whole corner my bae. I would go to Jarocho for a nice lunch, then I'd stop at El Pollo Rey for some chicken, then I'd walk over to San Antonio Market and get some carnitas and some tamales.
How has the local food scene evolved over the past year? It's growing into simple, kind of ethnic, really good stuff. We're seeing more of the basics back again – more of the classics, more of the good stuff we came up on. There were 10 years that any restaurant that would be open would be nouvelle and playing with chemicals. It was a small phase, but it was a phase, where you just didn’t see a lot of scrumptious restaurants open up – restaurants you really want to go to and eat at a couple times a week.
Who are some Kansas City chefs you admire at the moment? You know, tons of them – and I’m going to give you the politically correct answer. I admire all of us for doing what we do. If they can do that and make money at it and they do well, and they put the time in, then I admire any one of them that can do it, whether it be a multi-concept restaurateur or whoever else that’s running a little mom-and-pop joint. We do what we do because we love it, because it's definitely not for money, and I respect and admire anybody that can do that and that can stick it out.
What concepts or styles of cooking do you hope to see added or expanded in Kansas City? I would say – and you're gonna laugh at me, 'cause some people laugh at me when I say this, and I’m getting ready to open one, which is why – a steakhouse. A really, really good, not over-the-top with décor, [and] things that make you drive the price up, but that you can go to once or twice a week and not break the bank. We’re in beef country for crying out loud, and my humble opinion is that we don’t have that great steakhouse here. We need some great places serving really great American beef that people hang their hat on and go to a couple times a week and not blow the budget. I'm going to serve prime beef, USDA Prime, 30-day age. I'm gonna do also CAB [Certified Angus Beef] cuts, but you're gonna find it for under $20. We need those places for Kansas City. For god's sake, we have enough barbecue joints. I want to be able to go to every neighborhood in the city and there be a real, Midwestern steakhouse with big delicious baked potatoes with a fantastic piece of meat.
What do you like to cook at home or on your day off? I’ll cook anything, it just depends on what I'm in the mood for. One of my favorites – it is my favorite thing to do – is have a day off and go to the grocery store and run around and pick some things I'm in the mood for. Like if I know they’ve got some great tuna in at this store down here and I’m really in the mood for tuna, I'll do that. And there's days where I make sushi and finish off with pad Thai later on and eat a big steak later that day. So it's really across the board. I think it’s the most enjoyable thing for a chef, to really be able to cook and do their craft for themselves and their family and the people they love. It's fun to cook for other people, but for us to do it with loved ones – the majority of us really love that.
What’s the most intriguing dish you’ve made recently, and why? I really don’t have one, that’s the fun thing about it – we don’t know what to tell people when they come in and ask what's good. Anything on the menu, you're going to enjoy, and that’s kinda why I opened the place. I love the roast duck. I know a few chefs in town who come specifically to get the roasted duck.
What inspires your cooking? How do you approach R&D at your restaurant, and what inspires that process? You want the short version? I think about what I like to eat – eh, that sounds good. Then I go cook it. We overthink everything, being chefs, until we get to a certain age and we’re like, it doesn't have to be that difficult. I think about what I like. That's how I'm doing the steakhouse. I sat down for about 20 minutes and had the menu taking shape because I was thinking about what I like and what we are missing in our neighborhood and in the city, and it made it really easy.[For example,] I knew I really liked roasted ducks, and I couldn’t get them anymore at China Market since they moved to the other side of River Market, so I wanted to do a roasted duck so I could eat it every once in a while. It really comes down to that. It’s the same thing with the steakhouse we're going to open, and the pie and ice cream shop we're going to open – what do we like and what are we missing? And all the chefs that have been doing it long enough, recipe development takes 3 to 4 minutes. Write it down and we got it.
What are your future plans? Brookside Beef Co. That is our future. It's gonna be kind of one of a kind, because we’re designing it exactly like Brookside Poultry Co.; it’s gonna have a red cow instead of a red chicken. Menu’s gonna look very, very similar in that you’ve got two sides to the menu: USDA Prime, 30-day age on one page with about six to seven cuts, and on the other side we’ll have CAB, which is a little less expensive. Then a not-beef section with your real traditional [stuff] – crab stuffed shrimp with Béarnaise sauce and very traditional stuff that’s made just right. We aren’t overextending ourselves and the kitchen, so we’re going to have a really, really small menu. And what you’re gonna get from that is just really great food. [A cook] won't have 30 ingredients in front of him that he’s gotta put together – he’s gonna have five, and he’s going to put them together perfectly. We’re looking for first part of next year. It’s two blocks away. I’ll be able to walk to all my places – I might get a skateboard again and skateboard to all my places. Perfect!
Brookside Poultry Co., 408 E. 63rd St., Brookside, Kansas City, Missouri, 816.599.2285, bkspoultryco.com