Monthly Archives: December 2019

best things in life are FREE

I claim that today is eat all the carbs you want day!!!! This should be a national holiday 😉 It is so nice to know the owner of your favorite restaurant. I was craving the bread service at Nonna’s Italian Cafe downtown Springfield, Missouri so I called the Owner/Chef Shawn Kraft and asked if he was around. It was 8:30am on a Monday, he cheerfully answers “Of course I am here, the front door is open, let yourself in!” (As I hear pots and pans banging around in the background) So I respond that I am on my way. 

Daddy Daughter Date with my 17 mo old Lilly
Daddy Daughter Date in Full Effect

A huge smile on his face and a great big bear hug are salutations as the Italian music 🎶 is playing loudly in the kitchen area. Chef Shawn is cleaning up 🧹from a tornado 🌪 that happened the night before. (We live in Missouri, literally a tornado 🌪 came through the previous evening and knocked off his sky vent)

Shawn at a pop up dinner hosted by Chef Drake Tillman
Shawn Kraft at pop up dinner hosted by Chef Drake Tillman

I come in with Lilly Pad (my 17 month old daughter) and he calls her by name and says buongiorno!!! I tell him I am craving his famous bread service, so he pulls out some freshly baked bread, chops some fresh garlic, grates the Parmesan Cheese 🧀 and drizzles Extra Virgin Olive oil on the top. I kindly add to his amazing concoction some salt 🧂 and cracked pepper.

Some of the best things in life are free
Some of the Best Things in Life are Free

He then fills a shot glass of pressed olive juice and downs it, saying “Good for the soul.” Shawn Kraft is a die hard fan of Italy and even though he lives in the states, in his mind he is always on the coast of Napoli. (He also runs a travel site that does tours through Italy and shows you the ins and outs and you eat 🍽 and drink 🍷 your way across Italy) Website:

Mr and Mrs Kraft off the coast of Italy giving a tour with Si Italia
Mr and Mrs Kraft off the Coast of Italy giving a tour for their travel company “Si Italia”

I asked him why, and he says I get a free trip to Italy and at the end of the day I make a couple of bucks. What an awesome way to have an entrepreneurial spirit and take life into your own hands. Like the Frank Sinatra song, “I Do It My Way!” 

Prosecco is his favorite
Prosecco is a favorite in this family

I take my first bite and it is like heaven, the raw garlic, the quality parmigiano reggiano from the home land, the acidic and spicy Extra Virgin Olive Oil coats the back of your throat and is just like a symphony is playing inside my taste buds. Ahhhhhhh, I have been craving this experience, and no better way than to discuss culinary politics and kitchen drama with the owner while my 17 month old baby girl wanders through the dining room floor. Occasionally she will return like a little bird returning for her nibble of freshly dipped bread in the sauce of the Gods.

My little Lilly roaming the restaurant

Some things in life are simple and extravagant at the same time. It is how we source our ingredients, the surroundings (like the Italian music in the background) and the company you hold.

Lilly approved this meal! So did Daddy

This was one of my favorite breakfasts in Springfield Missouri and I will always cherish this moment. After some time of catching up he nicely starts to back away slowly into his kitchen where he will spend most of his day and I release him to his office of culinary adventures. He hugs me again and kindly brushes the cheek of my baby girl and just like that we are released back into the real world 🗺.

Location: Downtown Springfield Missouri

Vibin Late Night

So I have been Private Cheffing all day for over 12 hours executing Executive Meal Prep for one of my local high end clients. It was late and had been a long day, and I defiantly didn’t want to cook for myself. It is 9:30pm in Springfield Missouri, I ask myself, where am I going to eat this time of the night on a Thursday?

It was cold outside and I wanted a warm atmosphere. Then it strikes me like lightening struck the Clock Tower. (if your not old enough to get this joke, watch “Back To The Future” it will be good for your developing mind 🙂

The Cheesecake with the best Caramel Sauce I have ever had in Springfield Mo

I remember that my good buddies Dillon Fox & Jimmy Rollins opened a new Jazz Club downtown, & most importantly, I remember they serve food till late into the night. I pull up and get lucky and find a parking spot not too far away from the front door. It is cold and drizzly so I dart across the street and make my way into this 1920’s style Retro Chic Jazz Club.

Co Owner Dylan Fox receiving an award.

The lighting is dim (which I love in a late night spot), the place is busy with clients, and the Jazz Trio is jiving. There is a table right up front for 1 and I sit myself right down. I absolutely love live entertainment, and Live Jazz is about as high as you can get on my happy scale.

Awesome live Jazz Trio

The server comes up with an empty glass and a pitcher of water, water with no ice in it. I am in love already!!! I really appreciate good tasting water and with the offering of no ice, win and win! I prefer to drink water without ice, it is much more refreshing and helps me drink more of it and lets all admit we could all use a little more water in our lives.

Late Night Food Menu in Springfield MO

I am hungry, but not too hungry so I start to thumb through the menu. It is very well laid out, simple and to the point on all aspects from Beer that is only $2.50 (not what I would expect at a high end Jazz Bar, but they are catering to their area, and who their people are and I respect that. I also love in their Manifesto it states: “We are here to make you believe in our industry” I absolutely love that, and feel that when I walk in.

Look at these awesomely Cheap Prices!!! #getyousome

I order Pierogies with Potato & Beet Dumplings, Onion Gravy, Fried Cabbage & Mushrooms. It was plated beautifully and was the perfect temperature when served. This dish was $12.00 and I felt it was a great deal for what you get, and especially for the time of evening that it was. (it was about 10pm at this point) Do not think your typical bar food, this is much more elevated and executed with grace from Chef Dustin Fox who happens to also be Dylan Fox’s brother. I paired this with a Katas Tempranillo Wine that was $7 a glass and it was so juicy and exactly what I was expecting. You can get a decent Tempranillo from Spain for a reasonable amount per bottle $12-24 and you get a lot more bang for your buck. These grapes are so juicy because of the hot climate in which they are grown, it gives a special flavor only the Tempranillo Variety can achieve.

Pierogies, Onion Gravy, Fried Cabbage & Mushrooms $12

My only critique on the Pierogies filled with Pureed Beet & Potato, I would have seasoned the filling a little more, as well as the pastry shell. Don’t get me wrong, this was an amazing dish and prepared very classically but I would have liked a little more seasoning. Just a touch of Sea Salt would have thrown this dish to new heights. The gravy was perfectly executed and the Fried Cabbage was cooked for the perfect amount of time to not make too mushy or too crunchy, a perfect in between texture. I was also very impressed with the presentation, I highly recommend this dish.

Pierogies with Beet & Potato Dumplings & Onion Gravy $12 paired with a Tempranillo $7

I was really craving a bold glass of red, I wouldn’t recommend the pairing with this course, but this was my main dish and I am a sucker for a Tempranillo. I would recommend you have Dylan Fox make you an extraordinary mixed drink that he does so well. I remember the first time I ever had a real Daiquiri (and keep in mind I am a sailor that has sailed through the islands for over 10 years) and it was with Mixologist Dylan Fox at “Barley Wheat & Rye” a posh Whisky Bar that was on the South side of town. If you have never had a “Real Daiquiri” I think you should rush to The Hepcat Downtown Springfield Missouri and get one right now! It is so simple and so delicious: Rum, Lime Juice, and Sugar. When done right it is a game changer to add to your arsenal of go-to cocktails. I recommend you pair a classic Daiquiri with this dish, would be devine.

Specialty Cocktail Menu

As I am noshing on my Pierogies (which I am bypassing the fork and eating them by hand because I am enjoying them so much) I don’t know if this is allowed or if I am being cool enough, but they are so good, I really don’t care. As I sip on my Tempranillo, I remember thinking to myself that this is the good life. The sound of smooth Jazz flowing through the nights air, and I am sitting so close I can feel the wind come in and out of the instruments. I close my eyes and think to myself, this is truly “Viben” right here………and I am so digging it. So if you want a vibe like no other, please come check out this hip Jazz Club downtown.

I love a Fortified Wines Section!!! #brinbackport

The “Fortified Wines” section catches my eye with the offerings of a Tawny Pork, Multiples of Sherries, (Dylan is a big fan of Sherries) Ruby Port & a Madeira. I approach the bar and ask the legend himself “Dylan Fox” what he would pair with the Vanilla Cheese Cake what came with a J. Reiner Whisky Caramel Sauce. He takes a moment to think and then says “Amontillado Sherry”. I ask him what made him choose that, he replies that it is his favorite Sherry, that is why. (good answer, I think to myself)

Cheesecake of the Day with Dylan’s Favorite Sherry

So I place the order for Dylan’s Favorite Amontillado Sherry, and the “Something Cheesecake” which happens to be “Vanilla Cheesecake, Cranberry Sauce, Whipped Cream & J. Reiner Whisky Caramel Sauce. They should have changed the name to Graham Cracker Crumb Cheesecake because that was defiantly the star of the show!!! It literally melted in your mouth and you could taste the butter, the bursts of the sugared crunch and the graham just all mixing and melting together in my mouth making the most amazing magic.

I wanted to go ask the chef if he could save me all the scraps of the day that fall off the cheese cake and put them in a bowl and I would be by nightly to pick up my flakes of sweet, sweet culinary bliss. The cheesecake was spot on and nice and light, and not to heavy like some cheesecakes can be. I wouldn’t traditionally order a Cranberry Topping but this was close to Thanksgiving so it fit the theme perfectly. The chef left the cranberries in chunks which I liked and must have cooked them with sugar absorbing most of that bitter power pack that you can some time get from fresh cranberries. These were cooked perfectly, light and bright with a nice sweet undertone. They also whipped their own Sweetened Cream and appreciate that as well. It could have been a little fluffier if you are going to call it Whipped Cream. I recommend getting a “Professional Whipped Cream Dispenser” that uses Co2 Cartridges, you can use real cream and it is real fast and easy to store in fridge. Or just change the name to “Cream Sauce” it was super good!!!

Lets get a closer look at this masterpiece

Now lets get to the seduction part of this dish, the J. Reiner Whisky Caramel Sauce. This sauce was cooked down flawlessly and I was so blown away with the after bite. It is that kind of caramel sauce that is almost burnt but isn’t, do you know what I am talking about???? You could feel the texture of the grit and burn, even though it was not there at all, it gives the feel in your mind. This to me was perfectly cooked down Caramel Sauce and it takes balls to do what this chef did. Caramel Sauce can burn so fast when you take it to this level, but if done right, with the perfect technique of cooking, it will come out magnificent. This my food loving friend was cooked magnificently. Chef Fox, please don’t loose your passion for this Sauce, I am coming back for more 😉

Amontillado Sherry $8 “Dylan’s Fave”

I taste it with my sherry and it is a match made in the stars. When I come back in I will pair it with the 10 Year Tawny Port, but that is just because I love a good aged Tawny like I love breathing fresh air. I don’t always order it, but when I do, I like for it to be in an environment like this.

Executive Chef Dustin Fox for The Hepcat

After the meal I make my way back into the kitchen to tell Chef Dustin Fox that his Caramel Sauce sent me into a happy place, a happy place I needed to visit and now am reborn into a better person because of it. Don’t you just love when food can do that to you? For me it resets a clock in my body that lets me be stress free again. It lets me forget about all the problems of the world, lets me forget about any stress that might be on my mind. Takes me to that happy place that only an experience, the perfect smell in the air, the talents of a talented chef and the knowledge of a drink specialist.

If you want to enter that realm, and leave regular day life behind for a short moment in time, the enter “The Hepcat” and let that Vibe take you to that place you need to be.

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By Chef Paul Allen “Pauly”

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.