Chef Ryan Brazeal’s long-awaited Westside restaurant is now open.
Diners have been waiting for Chef Ryan Brazeal’s Novel to open near 17th and Summit (in the former Lill’s space) since spring. His first Kansas City restaurant made its official debut on July 9 and, if early word in the food community is an accurate gauge, the wait has been worthwhile.
Chef Brazeal arrives in Kansas City with a backstory. He’s a Kansas City native and graduate of the culinary program at Johnson County Community College, but that’s not novel in itself. Brazeal’s notoriety stems from his credentials. He moved back to his hometown from New York, where he worked for two years as sous chef in Chef David Chang’s award-winning Momofuku restaurant. His Midwestern roots and culinary experience in New York inform his approach to food at Novel.
“I plan to use ingredients from local farms but with a global influence,” Brazeal says. He’s interested in drawing on flavors from southeast Asia, Italy and other cuisines as well as his Midwest upbringing. He says, “The food will be as simple or complex as it needs to be.”
“I have too much experience with global cuisine and technique to not use it, but I am not trying to bring a New York City take. I will work with local chefs to give Kansas City its own culinary identity.” ~ Chef Ryan Brazeal, owner of Story.
For example, he treats fresh green beans with a light touch the way his mother and grandmother prepared them for summer picnics as a cold salad. Or, he may shave them finely, blister them on the grill, pickle them with hot peppers and Champagne vinegar, blanch them or serve them three ways.
Taste is as important as technique for the chef. “I like it when dishes are balanced with different flavors––whether it is fatty, fermented or funky. I try to make it cohesive,” he says.
He presents juxtaposition with temperature and texture, offering a cherry tomato frozen as an ice cube, for instance. “I don’t want to compromise the integrity of the product,” Brazeal says. “I will manipulate it but not change its nature.”
It’s clear that the chef has many ideas and techniques at his disposal to deliver exciting dishes. “I have too much experience with global cuisine and technique to not use it,” he says, “but I am not trying to bring a New York City take. I will work with local chefs to give Kansas City its own culinary identity.”
Novel features an expanded kitchen with a dining room that has a simple, unpretentious feel.
Large-scale colorful artwork by Brazeal’s girlfriend Katie Sparaco adorns the walls. Optimism pervades like the first moments of an experience that feels just right.
For his first restaurant, Brazeal definitely has high aspirations.
“I want this to be established as one of the great restaurants in Kansas City. I want people to associate Novel with food, drink, ambiance and hospitality,” he says.
“The neighborhood is vibrant and full of life with artists and urban gardens. I want to be here for a long time as a fixture in Kansas City.”
To see the full menu and more information about Novel, visit the official website.