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Developing Culinary Artistry

Local Chef Finds His Form of Expression on the Plate

Kansas City native, Chris Paszkiewicz, has always enjoyed artistic endeavors, whether that be in photography, drawing, sculpture or his personal favorite—food. It’s that love of art and expression that made him decide from a fairly young age that being a chef would be a good fit for him professionally. 

“I love cooking because I not only love the artist aspect, but I also love to create and experiment,” Paszkiewicz says. “I love to make people happy, and I feel my passion of cooking helps me achieve all of these things.”

Born and raised in the south Kansas City area, Paszkiewicz got his start in the hotel restaurant business in Florida where he trained under Chef Randal White, serving as his personal assistant. It was there Paszkiewicz learned skills such as the basics of being a chef and how to serve mass caterings including Sunday brunches and holiday meals. In fact, Paszkiewicz says White was a big part of why he wanted to stay in the business.

White says Paszkiewicz keeps an open mind on new ideas, focusing on clean plate presentation with flavor. He said he also has an inquisitive nature about food and continues to learn new techniques. White has seen him execute many large functions of high quality such as weddings of more than 300 guests and multiple large-scale, off-property events over the course of just a few days. 

“Chris has done very well in taking a leadership role by keeping the end in mind and thinking business-orientated,” White says.

Paszkiewicz also worked at the Hilton President in Kansas City as kitchen supervisor under chef Chris Hall and was then executive chef at the 1886 Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. 

Today he is the executive chef at the Ivory Grille Restaurant and Lounge in Sedalia, where he prepares various seafood and steaks and create his own new dish each week. To get inspiration for new dishes, he looks around, considers what’s fresh and seasonal as well as what he wants to eat. 

While he has many favorite dishes that he’s prepared, one that sticks out to him is Salmon Napoleon, which includes a puff pastry, salmon, sautéed spinach, garlic and shallots stacked and then topped with a Boursin cheese cream sauce. It’s a dish he prepared for a few job interviews, so it in turn has given him the chance to create more favorites.

Through all his experiences, he has had the opportunity to cook for many prominent customers including Missouri Governor Mike Parson, Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe, Jerry Seinfeld, John Travolta and Anthony Bourdain among other celebrities, politicians and people of notoriety.

Paszkiewicz says he enjoys plate presentation as well as putting his own spin on new and classic dishes. He said he likes to infuse different types of cuisine into his dishes with seafood being one of his favorites. In fact, his customers often say they enjoy the flavors in his foods as well as his plate presentation.

“I definitely put my heart into it,” Paszkiewicz says. “I don’t half anything.”

Paszkiewicz says being located in the Midwest has its advantages from a culinary perspective as it gives easier exposure to the influences from both coasts as well as from cities such as Chicago and New Orleans.

“Being in the middle is a great culinary spot,” he says.

To those considering a career in the culinary arts, Paszkiewicz says it’s important to keep looking ahead and keep your eyes on the big picture.

“It can get very overwhelming and frustrating,” Paszkiewicz says. “Sometimes it might feel that you aren’t moving ahead when you are.”

All of Paszkiewicz’ training has been on-the-job. He says while one doesn’t necessarily need a degree to be successful as a chef, they do need to be willing to work extremely hard. 

Paszkiewicz says being a chef a very physically demanding job, often requiring 12 to 16 hours workdays five to six days a week. It’s always a balancing act as he and his wife, Lynn, have four sons, two of which have special needs. Most of his time off is spent caring for his sons and family, and he says he takes work-life balance day-by-day as he seeks to be present during his time with his family. 

Like many chefs, Paszkiewicz dreams of one day owning his own restaurant. He also hopes to become a Certified Executive Chef through the American Culinary Federation. 

“It’s a process I look forward to eventually,” he says.

To see what Chris Paszkiewicz has been cooking up lately, you can follow him on Instagram @chef_chris_pasz and on Facebook @chefchrispasz

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