After rapidly rising through the ranks of some of the world’s finest kitchens, Chef Kent Rathbun continues to demonstrate his culinary skills not only with the expansion of his restaurant concepts, but also with his full-service catering company and line of at-home products, Kent Rathbun Elements.
Rathbun’s roots are firmly set in food. At the age of nine, he discovered his passion for culinary creativity and began learning the skills and techniques needed to become the renowned chef that he is today. Starting as an apprentice at La Bonne Auberge, a five-star French restaurant located in Kansas City, Missouri, Rathbun gained experience working with high-end ingredients and learned the art of perfect preparation. Preparation was something Rathbun came to value, and that sense of significance remained with him as he moved from kitchen to kitchen, working with some of the best chefs in the country.
Most notably, Rathbun worked at Mr. B’s in New Orleans, American Restaurant and Milano in Kansas City, The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas and the Landmark Restaurant in Dallas’ Warwick Melrose Hotel. While at the Landmark, Rathbun had the opportunity to make annual trips to Bangkok, Thailand, which provided him the resources and research to create his own spectacular style of Contemporary Global cuisine. Drawing on Southwestern, Mediterranean, American, Cajun/Creole and Pacific Rim influences, Rathbun’s signature blend of flavors became the foundation of his first restaurant, Abacus.
In 1997, Rathbun decided to follow his dream. Drawing on his eclectic and distinctive style, he set out to establish his own world-class restaurant. Within months of its opening in the heart of Dallas’ uptown district, Abacus received recognition as a pinnacle of fine dining and received numerous accolades, including Mobil Four-Stars; AAA Four Diamonds; Bon Appetit’s Best of the Year 2001 issue, which named Abacus’ Chef’s tasting menu a “Top Pick;” “Best Chef” by D Magazine; and “One of the Top Meals Around the World” by USA Today. Abacus’ design, wine list and menu have also been recognized and featured in publications such as Elle, Southern Living, Veranda, Texas Monthly, and The Rosie Magazine. To date, the most prestigious of its recognitions has been Abacus’ induction into the Nation’s Restaurant News Fine Dining Hall of Fame.
With a flourishing five-star restaurant exceeding his expectations, Rathbun decided to begin research for his second concept, Jasper’s. Keeping with Abacus’ level of ingredients and design, Rathbun wanted to add a touch of “home cooking” flair featuring a “modern outdoors” theme. Focusing on the best of America’s regional cuisine, including steaks, chops, fish, rotisserie chicken, pasta, pizza and his mother’s famous sink salad, Jasper’s “Gourmet Backyard Cuisine” quickly became a location with distinction. With the opening of its first location in Plano, TX, Jasper’s recognition helped kick-start Rathbun’s idea of expanding to additional locations in The Woodlands and Austin, TX. Jasper’s has been named one of Esquire Magazine’s Top 20 Best New Restaurants in America and has been touted by various regional publications in all three of its locations, including Tribeza, Austin Chronicle, Austin American-Statesman, Austin Monthly, Modern Luxury, Texas Highways, Diversions Magazine, ReviewIt Magazine, PaperCity and the Houston Chronicle.
In 2015, Rathbun developed and opened Hickory, a new concept offering an elevated take on two of his favorite foods: burgers and barbecue. The rustic, comfortable full-service restaurant continues to explore Rathbun’s now-famous fusion of backyard staples with gourmet cooking techniques and features a menu of creatively-topped burgers, Texas-style barbecue, smoked meats and sides like green apple-chayote slaw and charred jalapeno creamed corn. Hickory quickly endeared itself to the area residents and local media alike, with both praising the North Plano restaurant for its down home cooking, vibrant bar scene and relaxing patio.
With demand for Rathbun’s award-winning cuisine expanding beyond just his restaurants, Kent Rathbun Catering brings Rathbun’s gourmet creations directly to consumer’s homes, offices, events and his private event venue, the Kitchen at 6130. Offering a restaurant setting and full service bar, the Kitchen at 6130 is well-equipped to host social and business gatherings, holiday parties, corporate events and receptions. The full-service catering company handles everything from menu planning and wine pairings to securing locations and décor, ensuring that clients enjoy a stress-free event. Rathbun’s catering services are highly coveted, even drawing the attention of notable clients like Ross Perot, The Goss-Michael Foundation and Oprah Winfrey.
With several successful concepts under his belt, Chef Rathbun wanted to give home cooks an advantage in their kitchens, so he launched his own exclusive line of products. The Kent Rathbun Elements collection offers an assortment of products, all designed with the home cook in mind. Ranging from sauces and dressings to spices and marinades, the assortment captures Rathbun’s signature style with a unique blend of flavors needed to make easy and affordable meals every day.
By creating an astounding culinary legacy in Texas, Rathbun has thrived in the national scene. He has cooked at the James Beard House in New York on several occasions and was nominated as the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Southwest in 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2004. He has repeatedly appeared on a number of TV shows, including the Food Network’s “Chef du Jour”, Cooking Live with Sara Moulton, “Ready Set Cook”, the CBS Early Show, the Rosie O’Donnell Show and NBC’s Today Show. In 2008, Rathbun competed on Food Network’s hit series “Iron Chef America” and defeated grill master Bobby Flay in a frenetic culinary battle.
Rathbun was honored to be one of the featured chefs for the Bush 2001 Inaugural Ball and has participated in the Pre-Super Bowl Event, “Taste of the NFL” for the past 10 years. Passionate about charitable organizations, Rathbun is actively involved in the American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, Zoo to Do, the North Texas Food Bank and the American Heart Association.