If you really want to show a person you love them, it’s time you went beyond chocolate. Love, it turns out, can be sweet, spicy or even deep-fried.
801 Chophouse’s executive chef Jeremy Kalcic, 35, has known since high school that food lets people instantly make connections.
“I was dishwashing at a retirement home at the time,” Kalcic says. “And my dad looked over at me and said, ‘you’re at work so much, why don’t you become a chef.’ That made sense. I thought everybody’s got to eat and you can affect somebody’s emotions with food.”
Kalcic graduated from the culinary apprenticeship program at Johnson County Community College in 2002 before working at a series of beloved restaurants in his native Kansas City, including the Bristol Seafood Grill and Gaslight Grill. In October of 2013, he became the executive chef at the 801 Chophouse in Leawood.
“This is the place to fall in love with food,” Kalcic says while sitting in a deep-backed booth in the dark wood dining room. “It’s the ambience and service and simple food done perfectly.”
Kalcic loves layering in deep, comforting flavors – something he takes from a pair of childhood inspirations. Growing up in the Northland, his best friend was Korean. For a decade, he was exposed to spicy, sour and pickled notes through the ramen noodles he regularly ate at the house across the street. In his own home, his grandfather would make kielbasa, cabbage rolls and sour cream sweet noodles – Croatian dishes from his own childhood on Strawberry Hill.
Today, Kalcic still is a global traveler in his own kitchen.
“I ask my wife what country she feels like and that’s what we have for dinner,” Kalcic says.
You may not have a command of international cuisine, but this is why we have restaurants, people. And since food is love, here’s three ways you can say, ‘I Love You.’
Show Your Commitment: 801 Chophouse is heaven for carnivores courtesy of a robust steak list, but there are still surprises for meat lovers. The roasted marrow bones are a clear sign that you’re head-over-heels for the carnivore in your life.
“It’s so rich, it makes your heart hurt. I like dishes that have a full texture, flavor, and mouthfeel,” Kalcic says.
The marrow bones, purchased locally at Bichelmeyer Meats, are roasted and served with grilled baguette crostini, a parsley caper salad dressed with salt, pepper, lemon and a little olive oil, and a tomato chutney. The chutney has onions, tomatoes, raisins, balsamic vinegar and sugar that’s cooked down and then finished with a little sugar. The chutney and a grilled lemon provide a sour and sweet component to cut through the fattiness of the marrow.
“I was born and bred in the Midwest. It’s the simple food done perfectly that gets me going,” Kalcic says. “I might go outside the box a little bit, but I’m not going to make a new box.”
Timeless Love: Forget silver or paper or whatever material is ascribed to a given anniversary. The key to celebrating your relationship is a classic dish like Oysters Rockefeller.
“You can’t go wrong with bacon and onion,” Kalcic says, as a sauté pan sizzles with chopped bacon and onion in the kitchen. “Oysters Rockefeller is just a classic dish done well.”
Once the bacon and onion are cooked, Kalcic deglazes the pan with a bit of Pernod in order to make a cream sauce. He then adds the oysters and generously sprinkles parmesan cheese on top. The pan is popped in the oven to allow the cheese to brown slightly. The oysters aren’t cooked all the way through, just warmed before they’re plated and served with a Hollandaise sauce.
All you have to is clink half shells and give yourself over to the bubbly cheese.
A Bit of Whimsy: For the person that brings lightness or laughter to your life, there’s a little State Fair at the 801 Chophouse with lobster corn dogs (a pork belly version is on the Happy Hour menu right now).
“It’s gourmet comfort food, a high-end twist to comfort food,” Kalcic says. “The lobster corn dogs are a real fun thing.”
Kalcic starts with a seafood mousse made with creamed shrimp, chopped lobster and salt and pepper. The mousse mix is pureed and then piped, dipped into the corn dog batter and sticked.
“They’ve got this crispy outside and juicy center just like a corn dog,” Kalcic says.
Find Your Flavor is a series of sponsored posts on The Recommended Daily. Over the course of the next year, we’ll explore the menus, cuisine and folks behind dishes at the restaurants in Leawood’s Park Place.