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.

Bocconcini lives again at Bocco Deli

Nathan Toubia closed his delicious Bocconcini Italian Eatery at 4811 E. Central in August, and it was a sad day for fans of Italian food.

But some of Bocconcini’s recipes are being revived at Toubia’s other surviving restaurant — Bocco Deli at 3010 E. Central.

That restaurant is a lunch-only place, but on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, Toubia is opening it up for dinner, serving many of his Bocconcini favorites.

Each weekend, he plans to set a multi-course menu, with two choices for each course. The courses will be sold a la carte, so diners can pick and choose what they want.  Last week, Toubia included on the menu Bocconcini’s famous frico appetizer, which features fried cheese filled with leeks, potatoes and sausage. Other choices included potato leek ravioli and pork and mushroom ragu. This weekend, he plans to include butternut squash ravioli.

Toubia will skip this Thursday becuase of Halloween but will serve dinner on Friday and Saturday. Each week, the dinner will start at 6:30 p.m., and he’s requiring reservations.

To make one, call 316-558-8412 and leave a message. Watch for the menus on Bocco Deli’s Facebook page.

Nathan Toubia closes Bocconcini Italian Eatery

It’s a sad day for fans of pillowy ravioli and pork saltimbocca.

Nathan Toubia has closed is Bocconcini Italian Eatery at 4811 E. Central. He plans to keep his Bocco Deli open at 3010 E. Central and focus his energy there.

Toubia, the son of Latour founder Antoine Toubia, opened Bocconcini in August of 2011, and it was instantly popular with foodies. 

On Labor Day weekend of last year, Toubia suffered serious injuries in a motorcycle accident. Since then, he said, he’s struggled personally and financially.

In June, Toubia cut out his weekday lunch hours. Though business had picked back up recently, he still had to make the hard decision, he said.

“I hate to see it go, but also, for me personally, I need to be balanced,” he said. “I think it’s bette r to cut ties and focus more on the deli.”

Events for oenophiles in June

There’s lots of wine to be consumed in June, whether you prefer yours with a four-course dinner or a side of yoga.

Here are some events to put on your calendar.

1. Wine and Yoga: Oeno Wine Bar at 330 N. Mead has started a weekly yoga class that also features a wine tasting in its champagne room. It’s staged every Monday at 7 p.m. and features an hour of yoga led by Olga Khakova followed by light hors’ douevres and three wine samples. Admission is $15 a person, and reservations are recommended by calling 316-440-5000.

2. Bocconcini wine dinner: The next wine dinner at Bocconcini, 4811 E. Central, is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Sunday. It’ll feature four courses paired with wines from Banfi. For reservations, call 316-613-2523.

3. Dinner for Friends: Taste & See, 3825 E. Harry, will be the home of a 6:30 p.m. June 17 fundraiser dinner for Positive Directions. Chef Jason Febres will prepare a five-course dinner, and two wine pairings will be provided by Standard Beverage. Tickets are $60 or $75 for front-row seats. A cash bar also will be available. Reservations are required by calling 316-263-2214, extension 108.

4. Cocktail Tasting: Auburn Spirits is putting on a cocktail tasting from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. June 18 Tuesday at Rolling Hills Country Club, 223 S. Westlink. It’ll include mixology lessons on mixing summer spirits plus samples of six cocktails. Tickets are $20 and include the drink recipes. Reservations are required by June 17 by calling 316-440-1111.

Bocconcini: New brunch, new hours

Bocconcini is losing lunch but adding brunch.

Nathan Toubia is changing the hours for summer at his Bocconcini Italian Eatery, the delicious Italian spot at 4811 E Central Ave

Fans of his food are losing weekday lunch, but they’re gaining weekday brunch.

The new hours, as of today, are 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. On the weekends, Toubia will be serving a plated brunch that includes options such as steak and eggs, ricotta pancakes and duck hash. The brunch also will feature an antipasti bar, where patrons can help themselves to things such as salads and roasted vegetables. He’ll have a dessert buffet, too.

Those who need a Toubia fix at lunch can still get it his other restaurant, Bocco Deli at 3010 E. Central.

For more information, call Bocconcini at 316-613-2523, but not today because as part of the new hours, the restaurant is now closed on Mondays.

A Valentine’s dining guide for procrastinators

If you’re one of the brave souls opting to brave the Feb. 14 restaurant crowds, I applaud you. Please let me know how that goes.

But if you’re a procrastinator — or just don’t like fighting for air on the busiest dining day of the year — several restaurants are planning to extend their Valentines Day offerings throughout the weekend. (I’m going for Bocconcini’s dinner because I simply must have that chocolate ravioli, but I’m going on Friday instead.)

Following are some of the restaurants offering specials for those who are putting off their celebrations a bit.

Abuelo’s, 1413 N. Waterfront Parkway, 316-634-2230: The Mexican restaurant is offering a dinner-for-two special good through Sunday that includes fajitas plus a choice of dessert for $29.99.

AVI Seabar & Chophouse, inside the Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview, 135 N. Waco, 316-262-3300: The restaurant is serving a $79-a-couple meal that includes choice of appetizer, salad, filet mignon with coconut shrimp or grilled or blackened salmon with coconut shrimp plus a dessert to share and one glass of champagne each. The special is available from 5 p.m. to close through Saturday, and the regular menu will be available as well. Call for reservations.

Bocconcini Italian Eatery, 4811 E. Central, 316-613-2523: The Italian restaurant is running a special four-course Valentine’s Day meal through Saturday. It’s $35 a couple without alcohol or $55 with choice of a bottle of red wine, white wine or prosecco. The dinner includes choices for each course, and among the entree options are lemon chicken, pork saltimbocca and pancetta-wrapped salmon. Call for reservations.

Hereford House, 1400 Terradyne Drive, Andover, 316-733-7800: The restaurant has a standing offer of a four-course dinner for two for $65. Call for reservations.

Newport Grill, 1900 N. Rock Road, 316-636-9555: Newport will offer a special Valentine’s Day dinner from 4 to 10 p.m. through Saturday. It’s $50 a person and includes a steak and lobster dinner, a salad and a dessert of chocolate terrine with a raspberry coulis. The regular menu also is available, and those diners can add the dessert for $6. Reservations are recommended.

Zaytun, 2020 N. Woodlawn, 316-613-2474: The Indian/Pakistani/Turkish restaurant will be serving a four-course meal for $25 a person from 5 to 9 p.m. through Saturday. Among the several entree choices are tandoori chicken masala and Australian lamb shank. Call for reservations.

Make your Valentine’s Day plans

My dining story in today’s paper is about places that will feed you and your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, which is on Thursday.

Well, any restaurant that’s open on Thursday will feed you. But a large number of them this year are putting on special dinners designed especially for celebrating sweeties.

My pick: Bocconcini’s four-course meal that’s only $55 a couple with a bottle wine and offers you a choice of CHOCOLATE RAVIOLI — dark chocolate infused pasta filled with mascarpone and ricotta. Bonus: Their dinner is available from today through Feb. 16.

Check out the full list, and by all means, make your reservations now.

By the way, here’s Bocconcini’s full Valentine’s Day menu.

Nathan Toubia on the mend, back at work

It’s been more than six weeks since the Labor Day weekend motorcycle accident that seriously injured Bocconcini Italian Eatery chef and owner Nathan Toubia and his manager/friend Abby Brookshire.

Both are on the mend, and Nathan — who broke both ankles, crushed his pelvis, and fractured his legs in the accident — is back on his feet. Though he’s on crutches and moving slowly, he’s been able to return to the restaurant in a limited capacity. He expedited service last weekend, and he’ll also be helping with prep work at Sunday’s wine dinner at Bocconcini. (You can see the menu below.)

I ran into Nathan at Dillons last night, and he looked good. He won’t be able to put weight on his right leg until early November but says he has “every intention of showing my face as long as the pain is tolerable.”

Abby, meanwhile, also is making progress, according to a Facebook page set up and maintained by her family called “Love for Abby.” She’s also back on her feet and has returned home to Texas with her family to continue her rehab.

Bocconcini’s next wine dinner is at 6 p.m. Sunday and costs $65 a person. Nathan has created a fabulous fall menu that includes lamb shank, apple crumble and something called “wedding pillow ravioli.” Keep reading for the menu. Reservations can be made by calling 316-613-2523.

Read More »

An update on Nathan and Abby

Abby, left, and Nathan, center, at the Old Town Farmers Market Iron Chef competition a few weeks ago. At right is event emcee Mark Davidson from KSN.

A couple of weeks ago, I told you about a terrible motorcycle accident that injured Bocconcini Italian Eatery chef Nathan Toubia and his passenger, Bocconcini manager Abby Brookshire. The accident happened over Labor Day weekend, and both Toubia and Brookshire were thrown from the motorcycle.

I’m following a Facebook page set up by her family to track Abby’s healing process, which is slow and painful but steady, the page reports. She suffered several serious injuries. Her friends and family are planning a fundraising dinner for her, and I’ll report the details when I get them.

I reached out to Nathan earlier this week to find out how he was doing. Toubia broke both ankles, crushed his pelvis, and fractured his legs. In an e-mail, he said that he spent a week in the hospital and another week in rehab. He’s now at home but is using a wheelchair to get around.

His team of cooks is going ahead with Bocconcini’s monthly wine dinner, even in their bosses’ absence, he said. He met with them yesterday to map out the wine dinner menu, which he says has come together nicely.

“Abby is still in all of our prayers,” he said.

“I thank everyone for their support, prayers and thoughts. It has meant a lot.”

The five-course wine dinner will be at 6 p.m. Sunday at the restaurant, 4811 E. Central. It’s $65 a person and features dishes paired with wines, including a main course of wild boar. For reservations, call 316-613-2523

Flying Stove’s Schauf wins Iron Chef contest

Judge/emcee Mark Davidson with the newly crowned Iron Chef, The Flying Stove's Rob Schauf.

There’s a new Iron Chef in town.

On Saturday morning, I helped judge the 10th annual Iron Chef competition at the Old Town Farmers Market, a competition that pits local chefs against each other in an on-the-spot cookoff, using a “secret ingredient” that’s revealed just before they start.

My cojudges and I —  who included KSN’s morning duo Mark Davidson and Leon Smitherman and local foodie Joe Stumpe — gave the championship wooden spoon to a new competitor — The Flying Stove’s Rob Schauf.

This was Schauf’s first time participating in a local chef-off, and he had some pretty tough competition in Bocconcini’s Nathan Toubia, Tallgrass Country Club’s Ben George, and defending champ Paul Freimuth of The Hyatt. Those three are among Wichita’s most amiable chefs and participate in nearly every cookoff in town.

The judges sampling more delicious food than should be legal before 10 a.m.

The secret ingredient was long beans, and after a shaky start (he appeared frozen by indecision at times), Schauf created a plate that made the crunchy beans the star. He cooked beef rare and topped it with the sauteed beans and served it alongside a potato puree. The judges were fighting for the last bites.

Customers at the Flying Stove rarely see Schauf, who is the culinary brains behind the food truck. He’s always inside, his back to the public, churning out the gourmet food while his friendly, chatty brother Jeff mans the window. He had a big cheering section at the competition, and afterward, The Flying Stove opened on the edge of the Farmers Market to a line 50 people deep.

Here are a few more photos from the event. Read More »