Chef Sean Kagy was educated at the New England Culinary Institute and worked at The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Va., in the early 1990s. From there he moved on to Chicago’s Four Seasons hotel before coming to Cincinnati to work under Chef Jean-Robert de Cavel at The Maisonette. After stints as executive chef of The Palace and owner/chef of One in Mason, Kagy opened his own corporate hospitality and consulting business.
These days you’ll find him teaching students at the Midwest Culinary Institute (midwestculinaryinstitute.net) at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, and in the kitchen of MCI’s fine-dining restaurant, The Summit.
CityBeat: What’s the last great meal out you had and where did you have it?
Sean Kagy: Hands down, Jean-Robert’s Table. I went there and Jean-Robert cooked for me. That was awesome. I took my wife and I ordered foie gras, crisped sweetbreads and a duo of pork belly and pork chop. And he had this incredible dessert, a hazelnut chocolate thing that was outstanding. I want to take my kids back, too. The place is fun and casual enough that you can take your kids, and they’re great eaters, so we can’t wait to take them there. I think they’d get a kick of going down there and eating great food.
CB: How is working in a teaching restaurant different from working in a regular restaurant?
SK: What’s very different is that my staff is all students. Some have no prior experience at cooking in a restaurant. The only background they have is what they learned in their labs here at school. The whole line, the set-up, time management — it’s all new to them. Also, the rotation of people is off. People rotate and they may be with me three or five months and they move on, versus in a regular restaurant, someone may be on the sauté station for a year or more. What you have here is, in that short period, the students want to work every station while they’re here. They don’t want to be stuck on one station; they want to learn each one. You’re constantly showing people how to do stuff and correcting it, but mistakes are part of learning. If you don’t make mistakes, you’re never going to learn how to do things the right way. And this restaurant is designed for rotation. But when you do that, getting consistency is a challenge.