Joe West

Executive Chef at Stock Hill Steakhouse

Joe West, executive chef at Stock Hill Steakhouse, talks the South Plaza neighborhood, influential chefs and advice for up-and-comers. 

QUICK HITS

Favorite restaurant in town?

The Antler Room

"The Antler Room is so good. The food is outstanding and the most up-to-date I've seen in a long time."

Favorite bar or watering hole?

Harry's Bar and Tables

"Harry's Bar and Tables is always my favorite because it was my spot for such a long time. I also really like Julep for great cocktails."

Favorite local provider?

Prairie Birthday Farm

"I've had long lasting relationships with Crum's Heirlooms, Thane Palmberg Farm and Prairie Birthday Farm. They grow some of the best things I've ever had."

The full interview

Q: You’ve worked in kitchens like Bluestem, as well as developed past restaurant concepts that featured Japanese cuisine. How did you make the transition from those styles to a modern steakhouse?

I’ve been cooking professionally for 15 years, and I’ve been lucky enough to have seen so many things in kitchens. I’ve been a sous chef for a successful, high-volume upscale Italian restaurant in Las Vegas that would serve up to 1,000 people a day, and I’ve run a food and beverage program at a four-star hotel as a director of food and beverage. Those kinds of experiences help me with the difference in size between Stock Hill and places like Bluestem or Alex of Wynn Las Vegas. The style of a modern steakhouse is a collective mix of upscale high volume and the creativity of ultra-high end restaurants. 

You’ve said that you had offers from restaurants all across the country. What made you stay in Kansas City?

Alan Gaylin (owner, Bread & Butter Concepts) and I had numerous conversations and he emphasized so many things that I was looking for in an executive chef position. He was gracious in answering all of my critical questions about his company and the way Stock Hill would be running. It was easy for me to pick Stock Hill if I was going to stay in Kansas City. Staying here was easy for me—I have close friends that live here, it’s my hometown and I just really enjoy living here. 

Q: Surely you had chefs that you looked up to when you were learning your craft. Who influenced you the most?

Every chef that I’ve worked for has had an impact on my life. But I worked with Colby and Megan Garrelts (of Rye and Bluestem) three times in my career and they have always treated me like family, all while influencing my style in cooking and in management.

What Stock Hill dishes are you most excited about and why?

I’m never in love with dishes; I am more excited about the overall cuisine of the menu and the kitchen culture. Every dish has its purpose on the menu and they are equally important.

Q: The South Plaza has a strong residential presence, as well as a nice assortment of new and established restaurants. How do you see Stock Hill fitting in and contributing to the flavor of that area and community?

The South Plaza is a great area and there are a lot of great places surrounding our restaurant. We’re going to provide an outstanding upscale dining experience for many people who don’t want to deal with the hassles of Downtown but still want to go out somewhere central in the Kansas City metro area. 

What advice would you give to aspiring chefs?

Be patient. There’s no age or amount of time that says you have to become a chef. Don’t work in kitchens that are supervised by non-chefs. Work for real chefs. Don’t make money a priority. Manage your finances and don’t go out drinking every night. Work harder than anyone else and constantly study our industry when you’re not at work. Act and dress like a professional, don’t be drawn in by the “Pirate Ship” mentality that some kitchens demonstrate with their casual approach to cooking. Stay away from being tacky and one day you’ll find you have great experience rather than a lot of experience. More opportunities will be available around the world because of that focus. 

Q: One of the selling points for Stock Hill is that it’s the Kansas City steakhouse “reimagined.” How do you hope to encourage diners to try something new and different?

We have an awesome list of steaks that are all great. We haven’t invented anything new, we’re just not allowing ourselves to stay confined in certain boundaries. Every dish is wholesome and has soul but some are more creative and unique as well. That’s the beauty of our restaurant, whether you are a traditional eater or someone that seeks an adventure, we’ve got something for you.

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