April 17, 1961 |
Kansas City, Missouri
Kent Rathbun (born William Kent Rathbun on April 17, 1961, in Kansas City, Missouri) is a Beard Award-nominated American chef and restaurateur. His restaurants include Abacus, in Dallas, Texas, an upscale restaurant chosen as most popular in Dallas by the 2007 edition of the Zagat Survey;, Jasper's, in the Texas cities of Plano, The Woodlands, and Austin and Rathbun's Blue Plate Kitchen in Dallas, Texas.
Rathbun entered the food industry at age 14, washing dishes at a local Sambo's, a job for which he had lied about his age, claiming to be one year older. By the end of his first day as a dishwasher, he had asked to help the night cook, who within three weeks recommended that Rathbun be promoted to the cooking station. At age 17, he was working as an apprentice in the 5-star dining room of Kansas City's La Bonne Auberge restaurant, where his mother worked as a maitre d'. The fine dining experience changed his culinary tastes, causing him to come home determined to educate the experienced cooks in his household: "When I started learning how to work with fresh vegetables and snails and foie gras, that's when my taste just exploded. I told my mother, `I can't believe it. All those things you and Grandma have been cooking all these years - you've been overcookin' 'em.'"
After running a catering service for the Dallas Museum of Art and serving as sous chef in Dallas' The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Rathbun decided in 1999 to open his own restaurant. Abacus opened shortly thereafter, followed in 2005 by Jasper's in Plano. Both establishments were opened as smoke-free restaurants prior to Dallas' enacting a ban on public smoking, and Rathbun has been active in efforts to ban smoking in restaurants statewide. Zagat rated Abacus highly in 2008 as well as in 2007, granting the restaurant a rating of 28 points (on a scale of 30) for its food and 27 for its decor and service — a rating range that the guide describes as denoting "extraordinary to perfection" — and quoting survey respondents who called Rathbun a "genius."
Rathbun is currently married to fellow restaurateur Tracy Rathbun, co-owner of Dallas' Shinsei restaurant with Lynne Fearing, who is married to chef Dean Fearing. The close ties among the four restaurateurs were highlighted in media coverage when chefs Tre Wilcox of Abacus and Casey Thompson of Shinsei were selected as contestants in the third season of the reality television program Top Chef.
- "William Kent Rathbun," The Dallas Morning News (article sidebar), December 22, 1996, High Profile section, page 4E.
- Dotty Griffith. "Chefs Rathbun and Hage nominated for Beard award," The Dallas Morning News, March 19, 2004, Guide section, page 9.
- Kitty Crider. "Jasper's chef cool in large kitchen, made from scratch," Austin American-Statesman, April 18, 2007, page E1.
- Brooke Hatchett. "Woodlands chef showcases skills on television - Jasper's owner Kent Rathbun competes on Food Network program Feb. 24," Houston Chronicle, February 21, 2008, This Week section, page 2.
- Helen Bryant. "Kent Rathbun: Cooking and catering for Dallas' upper crust," The Dallas Morning News, December 22, 1996, High Profile section, page 1E.
- Terrence Stutz. "Poll fuels fight for smoking ban: Legislature: Sponsor of statewide measure says public support strong", The Dallas Morning News, February 1, 2007, page 3A.
- Shelley Gallagher and Robert Seixas. Zagat: America's top restaurants 2008, New York:Zagat Survey LLC, pages 4,80.
- Dotty Griffith. "Sensational Shinsei - Lynae Fearing and Tracy Rathbun star in their own show at this hip new spot" (review), The Dallas Morning News, September 1, 2006, Guide section, page 8.
- Alan Peppard. "'Top Chef ' is all in the family," The Dallas Morning News, May 14, 2007, GuideLive section, page 3E.
- Bill Addison. "Making every detail count - At Abacus, they all add up to a five-star experience," The Dallas Morning News, September 14, 2007, Guide section, page 8.
- Robert Wilonsky. "Abacus and Shinsei Sending their Top Chefs to Bravo's Top Chef in June," UnFair Park: The Dallas Observer Blog, May 08, 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-27.