Chef Kent Rathbun
After rapidly rising through the ranks of some of the world’s finest restaurants, Chef Kent Rathbun continues to demonstrate his culinary skills not only with the expansion of restaurant concepts but also with his newly launched line of products, Kent Rathbun Elements.
Rathbun’s roots are firmly set in food and at the age of nine, he discovered his passion for culinary creativity and began to live his life learning the skills and techniques needed to become the renowned and impressive chef that he is today. Starting as an apprentice at La Bonne Auberge, a five-star French restaurant located in Kansas City, Missouri, Rathbun gained the experience of working with high-end ingredients and learned the art of perfect preparation. Preparation was something he came to value, and that sense of significance continued with him as he moved from kitchen to kitchen, working with some of the best chefs in the country.
Most notably, Rathbun worked in the kitchens of Mr. B’s in New Orleans, American Restaurant and Milano in Kansas City, The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas and the Landmark Restaurant in the Dallas Melrose Hotel. While at the Landmark, Rathbun had the opportunity to make annual trips to Bangkok, Thailand, which provided him the resources and research to create his own spectacular style of Contemporary Global cuisine. Drawing on Southwestern, Mediterranean, American, Cajun/Creole and Pacific Rim influences, Rathbun’s signature blend of flavors became the foundation of Abacus.
In 1997, Rathbun decided to follow his dream, draw on his eclectic and distinctive style, and establish his own world-class restaurant. Within months of its opening in the heart of Dallas’ uptown district, Abacus began to be recognized as a pinnacle of fine dining and has received numerous accolades, including Mobil Four-Stars; AAA Four Diamonds; Five Stars from the Dallas Morning News; Bon Appetit’s Best of the Year 2001 issue, which named Abacus’ Chef’s tasting menu a “Top Pick;” “Best Chef” by D Magazine; and “One of the Top Meals Around the World” by USA Today. Abacus’ design, wine list and menu have also been recognized and featured in publications such as Elle, Southern Living, Veranda, Texas Monthly and The Rosie Magazine. To date, the most prestigious of its recognitions has been Abacus’ induction into the Nation’s Restaurant News Fine Dining Hall of Fame.
With a flourishing five-star restaurant exceeding his expectations, Rathbun decided to begin research for his second concept, Jasper’s. In keeping with Abacus’ level of ingredients and design, Rathbun wanted to add a touch of “home cooking” flair featuring a “modern outdoors” theme. Focusing on the best of America’s regional cuisine, including steaks, chops, fish, rotisserie chicken, pasta, pizza and his mother’s famous sink salad, Jasper’s “Gourmet Backyard Cuisine” quickly became a restaurant with distinction. With the opening of its first location in Plano, TX, Jasper’s recognition helped kick-start Rathbun’s idea of expanding to additional locations in The Woodlands, TX and Austin, TX. Jasper’s has been named one of Esquire Magazine’s Top 20 Best New Restaurants in America and has been touted by various regional publications in all three of its locations, including Tribeza, Austin Chronicle, Austin American-Statesman, Austin Monthly, Modern Luxury, Texas Highways, Diversions Magazine, ReviewIt Magazine, PaperCity and the Houston Chronicle.
The successes of Abacus and Jasper’s have foreshadowed the legacy Rathbun’s Blue Plate Kitchen will create in the Dallas area. Drawing on influences from family recipes while focusing on the “roots” of cooking, Chef Rathbun uses the freshest ingredients from regional purveyors to create an eclectic yet comforting menu of rustic home-cooked favorites with a touch of elegance. This new Mecca of casual, affordable cuisine has already generated plenty of positive buzz, securing its place in Chef Rathbun’s family of highly acclaimed restaurants.
In 2010, Rathbun announced plans to manage other culinary concepts, including ZEA WoodFire Grill in Plano, TX. Incorporating the Rathbun philosophy of unsurpassed guest service, quality of food and attention to detail, ZEA WoodFire grill is just another example of how Rathbun is continuously looking for ways to broaden his horizons and seek out additional growth opportunities.
Most recently, Rathbun partnered with Central Market to launch his own exclusive line of products for their chain of stores across Texas. The Kent Rathbun Elements collection offers an assortment of products, all designed with the at-home cook in mind. Ranging from sauces and dressings to spices and marinades, the assortment captures Rathbun’s signature style with a unique blend of flavors needed to make easy and affordable meals every day.
By creating an astounding culinary legacy in Texas, Rathbun has thrived in the national scene. He has cooked at the James Beard House in New York on several occasions and was nominated as the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Southwest in 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2004. He has repeatedly appeared on a number of TV shows, including the Food Network’s “Chef du Jour,” “Cooking Live with Sara Moulton,” “Ready Set Cook,” the CBS Early Show, the Rosie O’Donnell Show and NBC’s Today Show. In 2008, Rathbun competed on Food Network’s hit series “Iron Chef America” and defeated grill master Bobby Flay in a frenetic culinary battle as the secret ingredient of elk was revealed.
Rathbun was honored to be one of the featured chefs for the Bush 2001 Inaugural Ball and has participated in the pre-Super Bowl event, “Taste of the NFL,” for the past seven years. Passionate about charitable organizations, Rathbun is actively involved in the American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, Zoo to Do, the North Texas Food Bank and the American Heart Association
For more information on Kent Rathbun please visit http://www.kentrathbun.com
This profile was adapted from Kent Rathbun Concepts, June 2011.
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