Theresia Ota is our Chef of the Month for February!
February 1, 2018
The Monarch Bar
4808 Roanoke Pkwy
Kansas City, MO 64112
When did you know you wanted to be a chef?
I started cooking professionally because I wanted to be a food writer with street cred (I have a minor in journalism). But once I started cooking, all of the pieces fell into place and I knew the kitchen was where I belonged.
What are your hobbies outside of the kitchen?
Yoga, reading, drinking rose, and most of all, eating and cooking with my other lady chef homies.
Everyone remembers their first encounter with burrata. What is yours?
I had to move to New York to get real burrata. Chefs in Denver were making the standard kitchen version with ricotta and mozz, still delicious, but not the real thing. We served it with zucchini blossoms, pesto, pickled shallots and saba. The way that the stracciatella bursts out… it’s just barely restrained by the thin layer of mozzarella-- how do you not love that?!
If you could make dinner for one person, who would it be?
Sorry, I can’t pick one! It would have to be my grandparents. My Opa from my mom’s side was a marvelous cook. I didn’t know that he was making French classics when I was a kid. And my Grandma from my dad’s side was a master at the Japanese classics AND managed to navigate Hawaiian cuisine which is a conglomeration of all of the asian foods, plus native Hawaiian and a little Portuguese.
What is your favorite dish to cook and why?
Burrata is always a crowd pleaser, no matter what you do with it. Be lazy: olive oil, salt, pepper and bread. Get after it and stuff it inside of a squash blossom, tempura, and fry! It’s never going to be bad when you start with an ingredient as stellar as real Italian burrata.
What has been your greatest accomplishment as a chef?
Being from Hawaii originally, and working all over the mainland, my chef career has never been at home. So getting to host my parents at my annual dinner The Longest Day to Drink Rose (on the summer solstice), last summer was very gratifying.
If you you could give a piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?