John Conklin is out to shake up Wichita’s dining scene.
Think fennel-seared duck with a caramelized orange and rosemary risotto, braised osso bucco with a sweet carrot and radish micro green salad, and 12-spice ribs topped with banana barbecue sauce.
Those are three of the dishes that Conklin, chef at the Gaslamp Grille on Rock Road, is rolling out this fall.
“What we’re trying to do is a little more ‘food forward’ thinking,” Conklin said. “We do a lot of classic dishes. We just do them in a different way.”
“John Conklin is out to shake up Wichita’s dining scene.” — Jeff Cody
Conklin is an interesting character — a 32-year-old with a northern accent and multiple tattoos who grew up on his grandparents’ risotto and reruns of Julia Child.
He started “dish dogging” (washing dishes) in a restaurant when he was 12 years old.
He spent eight years working for Minneapolis chef Michael McKay — “He’s my master,” Conklin says — before hitting the road to learn specific skills at various restaurants.
Returning to Minneapolis, Conklin ran his own restaurant for two years. Then, like quite a few other people over the last couple of years, he said, “I lost everything.”
Conklin moved to the Lindsborg area with his wife, who had family in Kansas. His marriage broke up but Conklin never considered leaving the state.
“I’m a father first, a chef second,” he said. “I’m not leaving my kids.”