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EATING WELL IN KANSAS CITY - November 2017 - Kansas City
Two Passions Create Beautiful and Tasty Results
By Gloria Gale
Cody Hogan is a classic. He has always followed his instincts and, in doing so, traveled a path of two passions, food and music.
As Lidia's Chef de Cuisine for over a decade, Hogan's love affair with the piano is equaled by his affinity for creating beautiful food. “I like so many aspects of working in a restaurant, but ultimately, what you’re doing is taking care of people. It’s nice to make people feel better,” - Cody Hogan
1. What's the difference or similarities between playing music and being a chef?
Both involve interpretation and creation. Most often, I find myself interpreting Lidia’s food, or classic regional Italian food, just like when you’re playing music written by another composer. Sometimes though, when a special ingredient comes along, then I do a little composing myself. I don’t know which I prefer, because classic recipes, like classic pieces of music, have been tested for generations and they are beautiful and so well thought out that you can’t help but enjoy them.
2. Explain how you team with Lidia
She is a force of nature with a brilliant creative mind. She is very easy to work with if you have a similar work ethic and a passion for what you do. She’s so “in the moment” that whatever you’re doing becomes exciting. She’s taught me to go with my instincts. Try to treat people they way you would like to be treated. Work hard, and do your best.
3. Toughest dish you make?
The most difficult dishes are always the ones that are the most “simple.” In order for those dishes to work, everything has to be perfect: the quality of the ingredients, the handling, the presentation. And the person you’re cooking for needs to “get it.”
4. Explain a typical workday
Most of my workdays begin around 11:00 in the morning. I usually work on the line or expedite lunch service. After lunch, I do any purchasing needed for the restaurant (I do about a million dollars in purchasing every year--it takes a lot of stuff to keep Lidia’s going). Then I tackle paperwork (never thought about paperwork when I was dreaming of being a chef), work on a special for the evening or maybe do some menu development with executive chef, Dan Swinney with whom I’ve worked for 18 years. Then I run dinner service. The most rewarding and stressful aspects of the day occur during dinner service when everything is “humming” like a well-oiled machine, or it’s teetering on the edge of disaster (the two are separated by a very fine line).
5. What's wrong with the way people eat today?
Everything is out of proportion. Too much protein on the plate. Too many refined carbs. Too much processed food. In America, the attitude seems to be that “more is better,” but that seems to be slowly killing us. The Mediterranean model with smaller portions of everything, especially animal proteins, and more diversity makes more sense to me. What makes it difficult for most people is that they simply don’t know how to prepare vegetables and other whole foods. Somewhere along the way, Americans forgot how to cook.
6. If you could eliminate something from the menu, what would it be and why?
I would love to remove that silly warning the Health Department requires us to have on the menu about raw or undercooked food increasing your risk of food-borne illness. I love what I saw on a local menu: “Everything on our menu can do your body harm, rather undercooked, and overcooked, or in vast quantities. Please eat & drink responsibly.”
101 W. 22nd Street
Kansas City, MO 64108
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Kansas City writer, producer, and photostylist Gloria Gale is a sleuth when it comes to discovering interesting features for the media.
As a native she's compiled a burgeoning collection of editorial features on food, travel and lifestyle for national and local magazines, books, individuals, and corporate clients.
Most recently, Gloria profiled area restaurants as a columnist for 435 Magazine and was one of KCUR's Food Critics radio program.
Want to know where to find the best tastes in town? Contact Gloria: firstname.lastname@example.org