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That’s Italian!by James Oxendine | Men's Book Atlanta magazine | November 9, 2012
How far did renowned chef Kevin Rathbun go to ensure that the Italian portion of the menu at his latest resto, KR SteakBar, would be authentic? While he didn’t fly off to Italy, he did set up camp in Manhattan to stage a non-paying internship at the Michelin-starred Italian palazzo Del Posto this summer in order to fine-tune his skills and find is inner capocuoco.
Staging is very common in the culinary world, but not very common for those at the top of the profession. That’s why it was surprising to hear Rathbun checked his ego and went back to square one. “I know, staging at this point was a little strange,” admits the owner of many successful Atlanta restaurants. “But it needed to be done.” Rathbun, the Krog Street king of steak, has been planning to open a new restaurant called KR SteakBar in Peachtree Hills for a while now. To get it right, he decided he needed more than the usual research. “There are many ways to learn and reference new foods, but to immerse yourself in kitchens other than your own can inspire and invigorate current kitchen lore—lore that can’t be seen while you’re in the dining room eating dinner.”
Picking New York’s Del Posto was easy. “I had met Mark Ladner, Del Posto’s top toque, through colleagues of mine that I respect and admire,” Rathbun says. “Mark’s approach is very authentic to all of Italy. We hit it off well, and he and his operation were a fit for KR SteakBar’s Italian side of cooking.” Rathbun had dabbled in the art of pasta and regional ingredients a bit, but knew that he needed finer tuning. Turns out, his new bene skills weren’t the only thing he picked up in Manhattan.
Chris McDade, currently the sous chef at Danny Meyer’s critically acclaimed Maialino in New York, has agreed to come home and helm the new restaurant. “I am excited about [McDade] as the chef de cuisine.” The Atlanta native has worked at Rathbun’s in the past and was easily convinced to return south for the project. From the sound of things, by the time it opens in January, it won’t take much to convince Atlantans to love it, too.