Taco Republic was voted the runner up for best tacos in Kansas City in the 2015 Feast 50. This Q&A was conducted with culinary director George Atsangbe.
Tell us about a few of the signature dishes served at your restaurant, and how they embody your work. Our Buena Terra tacos are a vegetarian option with fried hearts of palm, fresh avocado, cilantro and salsa golf sauce. The crispy pork belly tacos include 5-hour braised pork belly served crispy on a corn tortilla and topped with salsa verde, onions and crispy chicharrones. The Tecate barbacoa tacos feature 7-hour beer-braised beef brisket, hand-shredded, and topped with fresh cilantro and sweet onion. These signature dishes have embodied my work of making a simple dish packed with intense flavor and fresh ingredients.
What have been some milestones in your career so far? My current work as the culinary director for Bread & Butter Concepts, a Kansas City-based restaurant group, has been a big milestone in my career thus far. Recently, I’ve developed 100-plus menu items within the span of three months for Bread & Butter Concepts.
Clearly your work has resonated with diners – what would you attribute this to, and what does it mean to you? I really enjoy introducing guests to new trendy food. The dishes I create are unique, but not intimidating, especially for those who might not consider themselves “foodies,” yet are still seeking to try new things. I am always searching for what is the next fun and tasty food.
What do you hope to see happen next in the local food scene, and why? It’s already taken off quite a bit, but I would love to see more locally based produce and farm products being used in restaurants. Food just tastes better and is overall better for the community when it’s locally sourced.
Whether it’s developing a dish or an entire food or drink menu, where do you get your inspiration? What inspires you and motivates you to do the work that you do? The process I have always followed is starting with carvable recipes that are in trend and eye appealing. Then I put one or two twists to using fresh, seasonal ingredients, and also making sure it’s execution-friendly. I get my inspiration from traveling to different cities and trying local restaurants. I love trying different ethnic food, going to farmers' markets around KC, and looking through food magazines. It’s really gratifying for me when I work hard developing a menu and training our kitchen and it all comes full circle when I see guests enjoying their meal.
What’s next for you and your work? Bread & Butter Concepts will be opening a new Italian restaurant, G. Berto Cucina, early next year. So, I’m really looking forward to doing some R&D over the next few months for that.
Taco Republic, 500 County Line Road, Westwood, Kansas City, Kansas, 913.262.8226, eattacorepublic.com