Category Archives: Chefs

Chef Febres gets TV practice with ‘Bizarre Snacks’

Fans of local chef Jason Febres, owner of Taste and See at 255 N. Washington, know that he is not the least bit uncomfortable in front of the camera.

Nutella-dipped grasshopper, anyone?

Nutella-dipped grasshopper, anyone?

The chef has made several appearances on national television, working as a consultant on Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue” and as a contestant on Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games” and “Cutthroat Kitchen.”

Febres also has been public on social media about his desire to have his own national cooking show and has hinted that some sort of a deal is in the works. His quest to land a show has resulted in a bizarre web series called “Bizarre Snacks.”

Febres started filming the short webisodes back in June, he said, following the advice of a producer who said that networks would be more likely to consider him if they could see more evidence of how he performed on camera.

In “Bizarre Snacks,” which can be found on Febres’ YouTube channel, jasonfebres1, the chef films himself and often his Taste and See guests trying outrageous, strange and rather gross ingredients. So far, he’s tackled fried silk worms, Nutella-dipped grasshoppers, ant and sesame candy bars and snake bites. His favorite has been spicy squid jerky, he said.

“It was so disgusting, but it was so good,” he said. “The flavor was nice but the texture was really bizarre.”

In each episode, Febres gives a little background about the ingredient’s actual use then films the various stages of revulsion as he and his guests choke down the snack.

Febres says he tracks down the delicacies at a variety of sources, including online and in local Asian and Indian markets. In September, Febres said, he will put on a free event in his restaurant where he will invite brave customers to come sample mystery ingredients if they agree to let him film their reactions.

I’ll let you know when he sets a date.

To keep up with the Bizarre Snacks installments, which Febres hopes to produce about once a week, like his Bizarre Snacks Facebook page or subscribe to his YouTube channel.

Celeb chef Alton Brown bringing live show to Wichita

brownFood Network star Alton Brown is coming to Wichita in October, and it sounds like his show is going to be … messy.

“Alton Brown Live! The Edible Inevitable Tour” will go on stage at Century II’s Concert Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 28. The show is two hours long, family friendly and is described as a mix of stand-up comedy, food experimentation and live music. It’ll include lots of audience interaction, and audience members will be called on stage to serve as culinary assistants.

The front rows at Brown’s show are designated as a “poncho zone.” People seated in those rows will be handed ponchos to wear, so it sounds like food is going to fly.

Tickets to the show go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday and will be $110, $71.50, $60.50 and $49.50. They’ll be available at WichitaTIX.com, by calling 316-303-8100 or in person at the WichitaTix box office, which is in the concert hall foyer, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Wichita chef comes in second on Food Network show

For those who missed it,  Chef Jason Febres, owner of Taste & See at 255 N. Washington, came in second place on Sunday night’s episode of “Cutthroat Kitchen,” the Food Network cooking show hosted by famous food personality Alton Brown.

Febres represented himself well, constructing several attractive, nicely plated dishes despite “sabotage” curve balls thrown at him by fellow contestants, which is the premise of the show.

Chef Jason Febres on "Cutthroat Kitchen."

Chef Jason Febres on “Cutthroat Kitchen.”

In one challenge, he had to make blackened fish using only pre-packaged grocery store seasonings. And in the final of the three challenges, Febres had to construct a banana split even though his bananas were pulverized and he had to make ice cream in a horrific invention called an Ice Cream Ball. 

I could not believe what I was seeing when that Ice Cream Ball appeared. Just last week, I was assigned to test the ball for a story that will be published in a special section the Eagle is putting out on May 18 called “Perfect Summer.”

The plastic ball uses no electricity and touts itself as an invention that will allow people on camping trips to make ice cream. It requires users to shake the ball, which is filled with ice and rock salt, for 20 minutes. My Ice Cream Ball experience was painful and not very fruitful, and Jason’s experience wasn’t much better. Still, he managed to make a nice looking banana fritter concoction and created just enough ice cream to get the job done.

His competitor, however, faced no sabotages in the final round and got it done a little better, ultimately winning the contest.

This was the third time Febres’ has appeared on a nationally televised food show. Last year, he was a kitchen coach on an episode of Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue.” Then, in December, he was on “Guy’s Grocery Games”  hosted by food celeb Guy Fieri.

‘Cutthroat Kitchen’ episode featuring Febres airs on Sunday

jason2DVR alert: The episode of  “Cutthroat Kitchen” featuring Taste & See chef and owner Chef Jason Febres  is scheduled to air at 9 p.m. Sunday on the network, which is on Cox Cable Channel 40 and 2040 in Wichita.

The show is hosted by famous food personality Alton Brown, and though Febres can’t share details of the show, Sunday’s description reads: “One chef must prepare French onion soup using serving ladles as cooking vessels; blackened fish challenge, making a banana split with pulverized bananas.”

This will be Febres’ third go-round with televised food shows. Last yearFebres appeared as a kitchen coach on an episode of Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue.” Then, in December, he was on “Guy’s Grocery Games”  hosted by food celeb Guy Fieri.

“Cutthroat Kitchen” premiered on the network in August, and each episode pits four chefs against each other cooking gourmet dishes for a celebrity judge. But there’s always an element of kitchen sabotage to keep things interesting.

Febres will watch the show at a sold-out watch party at Taste & See, 255 N. Washington.

Ben George the new chef at Siena Tuscan Steakhouse

Ben George, right, competing in a local chef competition

Ben George, right, competing in a local chef competition

Siena Tuscan Steakhouse, the restaurant inside the Ambassador Hotel at 104 S. Broadway,  has hired a chef to replace Marshall Roth, who left the restaurant earlier this month.

And the new chef’s face is familiar to Wichita foodies.

It’s Ben George, who most recently worked as the executive chef of Treat America at Beech Activity Center. Before that, he was at Tallgrass Country Club, and he also has worked at The Anchor. (Interesting trivia: George was in the running for the Siena job when the restaurant first opened. When the restaurant hired Roth, George took his old job at Treat America.)

George, famous for the magic he works with smoked pork and for his willingness to participate in all the various chef competitions around town, said he is planning major overhauls of the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. He’ll make the changes in about a month, he said, and he’ll focus on the type of food Wichitans wants at prices they want to pay.

Stay tuned for news on the new menus.

Birds on the Roof Restaurant: New name, new chef, new approach

Among the pretty new dishes being served by chef James Risner at Birds on the Roof Restaurant: Eggs Benedict.

Among the pretty new dishes being served by chef James Risner at Birds on the Roof Restaurant: Eggs Benedict.

The owners of Birds on the Roof have found a new chef, and they’re also taking a new approach with their whimsically pretty restaurant, which opened in August at 550 N. Rock Road.

The new chef is James Risner, who most recently worked at Taste & See. He’s been revamping the restaurant’s menu, adding new breakfast, lunch and dinner items such as eggs Benedict with salmon, seafood crepes, omelettes,  filet mignon and more. (Chef Nathan Toubia, who had spent several months working at the restaurant, recently took a new job at the Wichita Country Club.)

Owners Jimmy Nguyen and his wife, Thao Luu, also changed the name from Birds on the Roof Bakery & Cafe to Birds on the Roof Restaurant and want to focus more on “romantic, French-style dinners.”

The owners also have lowered prices, they said, and retrained the staff. Anyone whose food takes longer than 20 minutes to arrive gets 50 percent off.

To celebrate its grand reopening this weekend, diners on Thursday and Friday evenings will get 50 percent off the dinner menu. (Reservations are required to get the deal.)

Saturday’s grand-reopening activities will include live music and giveaways.

For more information, call the restaurant at 316-558-8288 or 316-708-9799.

Taste & See Chef announces new T.V. spot

1973338_10153059309244041_1270937673_oChef Jason Febres is going to be on television again.

The chef, who owns three locations of his Wichita restaurant Taste & See, announced on his Facebook page today something he’s been hinting at for months: He’ll appear on an episode of the Food Network show “Cutthroat Kitchen” hosted by famous food personality Alton Brown.

According to Febres, the episode he appeared in will air on the network, channel 40 and 2040 in Wichita, on May 4.

This will be Febres’ third go-round with televised food shows.

jason2

Febres

Last MarchFebres appeared as a kitchen coach on an episode of Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue.” Then, in December, he was on “Guy’s Grocery Games”  hosted by food celeb Guy Fieri.

“Cutthroat Kitchen” premiered on the network in August, and each episode pits four chefs against each other cooking gourmet dishes for a celebrity judge. But there’s always an element of kitchen sabotage to keep things interesting.

The show airs Sundays at 9 p.m.

Nathan Toubia accepts sous chef job at Wichita Country Club

cropped-nathan1-191x300Popular local chef Nathan Toubia is making another career move.

He’s left Birds on the Roof Bakery & Cafe, where he has been working since November as head chef, and today accepted a job working under Chef Damian Lehman as the sous chef at Wichita Country Club. He starts on Friday.

Meanwhile, Birds on the Roof, which is at 550 N. Rock Road, is closing its doors for at least two weeks while it hires a new chef, said owner Thao Luu. The restaurant will, however, open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday to test out new menu items.

In other Toubia news, he has sold his Bocco Deli, 3010 E. Central, which he opened on his own in 2010. A longtime employee now will take it over.

Toubia, the son of the late Latour founder Antoine Toubia, closed his Bocconcini Italian Eatery in August.

Jason Febres’ Food Network moment happens Sunday

1471910_740311169331376_1116565259_nThe episode of Guy Fieri’s new Food Network Show featuring Wichita chef

Jason Febres, who owns the new Taste & See in Old Town, airs on Sunday, a network spokesman said.

“Guy’s Grocery Games” is set in a grocery store, and each episode pits four chefs against each other to compete in cooking challenges with levels of difficulty thrown in. Febres filmed the show last summer.

It airs at 7 p.m. Sunday on Food Network, Cable Channel 40 in Wichita.

The episode is called “Holly Jolly Meals,” and judges include Richard Blais of “Top Chef” fame.

Meanwhile, Febres has traveled back to California to participate in another Food Network show, though he’s not saying which one yet.

He has, however, been hinting about it repeatedly on the Taste & See Facebook page.

Guy Fieri, host of “Guy’s Grocery Games.”

These aren’t his first T.V. gigs, either.

Back in March, Febres appeared as a kitchen coach on an episode of Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue.”

Toubia the new chef at Birds on the Roof

Chef Nathan Toubia, who closed his popular Bocconcini Italian Eatery in August has a new job — working for someone else.

The interior of Birds on the Roof Cafe and Bakery.

The interior of Birds on the Roof Cafe and Bakery.

Toubia has accepted a job as the head chef at the new Birds on the Roof Bakery & Cafe, a beautifully decorated bakery and restaurant that Thao Luu opened in August at 550 N. Rock Road.

Luu has been rethinking her menu since opening, and Toubia is going to focus right away on breakfast, lunch and brunch. He plans to make some of the items he used to serve for brunch at Bocconcini, such as ricotta pancakes and duck hash. He’ll also have a lunch menu with sandwiches such as Italian roast beef.

Luu also wants him to develop a dinner menu, but they’ve agreed to work on the daytime meals first.

Toubia

Toubia

Toubia has been running his original restaurant, Bocco Deli at 3010 E. Central, since closing Bocconcini. He says he plans to leave that restaurant in the hands of his staff — as he did when Bocconcini was open — so that he can focus on his new job. He says he will have to end the weekend dinners he recently started serving at Bocco Deli.

Luu said she is excited about her hire.

“I want something unique and nice,” she said.

Toubia will officially start his new job at Birds on the Roof next week.

Birds on the Roof is closed until Thursday. Regular hours are 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 316-558-8288.