Best New Chef of 2013

Ryan Brazeal knew what he wanted from the get-go. 

“My parents both loved to cook and it rubbed off on me.”

The next logical step was to enroll in JCCC’s culinary program. After graduating at 24, he promptly left town.

“Yeah, I moved to New York City and worked at a variety of restaurants, including Monofuko under Chef David Chang,” he says.

Bolstered with the fundamentals he learned, Brazeal refined his technique and hatched a plan.

Which was … ?

“To come back home and open my own restaurant.”

In 2013 Brazeal was looking for space in downtown KCMO.

“I felt like there was too much money leaving the city and I wanted to bring awareness to the area, reduce urban sprawl,” says Brazeal. “The opportunity presented itself through a lead on the Westside Victorian-era property.”

It wasn’t the Crossroads, as he initially wanted, but it would prove to be a good fit.

Chef Ryan Brazeal has returned to Kansas City and his new restaurant Novel is well worth a visit.

Brazeal sat down, put pencil to paper, and re-designed the space himself. 

“We punched out the back wall of the kitchen to make it bigger and more efficient and added various upgrades. The renovation took four to five months, slogging through permits and contracts and haggling with the city.”

But it worked.

Novel opened July 9, with 12 people on board: front of house, bar, hostess, manager and three cooks.

Everyone since has been happily engaged in the effort.

“Except I’ve gone through 11 dishwashers,” Brazeal says, shaking his head.

Novel has become a runaway success.

In the quaint surroundings that invite conviviality, Brazeal orchestrates his own rhythms.

“We have learned to use sour, bitter, sweet, salty, oily and fermented ingredients to enhance the natural taste of things rather than disguise them,” he says. “This is why I propose the term ‘Novel American Cuisine.’”

And folks agree.

Brazeal has set a high bar for himself managing the house with six or seven small plates, six entrees, innovative sides and desserts. The results: beautifully-plated, fresh food ripe with creativity.

Everyone has been surprisingly supportive.

“Not just from customers (including my parents) but the culinary community who’ve welcomed me into the fold,” he says.

It’s instant gratification for this hands-on young chef/owner.

“In this fickle business, you have to love pleasing people,” says Brazeal. “It’s what I do and I’m taking it one day at a time.”

photo: 8183 Studio

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