Before the Food Network was regularly making rock stars out of chefs, Wichita had its own hotshot in the kitchen, and people paid to join him there.
Keith Studebaker was the first chef at Cibola in Bradley Fair and was known for his popular Chef’s Table where diners could join him for meals in his kitchen.
The restaurant closed in 2009, but Studebaker left long before then. Today, he’s with Ben E. Keith and is selling food and equipment to restaurants.
“Not working in the food service business.”
“Washing dishes in a restaurant in South Hutchinson.”
“Basically just got the food service bug at that point. … I worked for several different chefs to keep learning more and more. I prefer the school of hard knocks over some culinary school.”
“That’s always a dream, I think.”
“The goal … was to move back, get a name for myself and find somebody who wanted to finance a restaurant.”
“After being so intimately involved in that from start to finish, after two years I was shot and burnt out, and I wanted no part of it anymore.”
“That was the other thing. I couldn’t just walk away from everything I knew. This was a great natural progression.”
“Yeah, you’d be rich. You hear it every day.”
“It’s a mystique. … I don’t know, society has built this image … of (a) glamorous restaurant owner’s life. It’s not. It’s a ton of hard, hard work, and I don’t think people realize how much hard work it is to own and operate a successful restaurant.”
“I miss the creativity. I miss the instant gratification. … It’s a huge ego thing.”
“When you cook a great meal and go out to the table, and they’re all gushing … it was good. It was instant. … It’s a rush, too. It’s a physical, mental, emotional rush to be in that environment. The day-to-day operation, I do not miss that at all.”
“I am done opening restaurants. I’ll sell ’em. I’ll sell ’em all day long, and I’ll help you open one.”
“It’s Chester’s. I mean, that one’s safe.”
“Now that one’s (a) toss-up, I’d say, between Alejandro’s on South Rock Road … and Little Saigon off of Broadway.”
“There’s a lot of quantity, and I wish there was more diversification.”
“There’s just too many people doing the same thing. The same type of thing. I wish there were more risks being taken or more thinking out of the box. I love what the Flying Stove does because it’s totally out-of-the-box thinking and food. I wish there … were more restaurants like that.”
“Some remember. … But overall it’s not something I live and die by right now. It’s just not part of my day-to-day life anymore. It’s not something I need.”