Max W. | Chef/Owner
Years of Industry Service: 4
Max did not get into the restaurant business for the health insurance, which he doesn't have, and probably not for the money. With a new restaurant venture and two young children, we're guessing buckets of gold aren't sitting around at his house either. Max says he got into this business for the fast-paced work environment and the feeling of accomplishment. Considering he’s only 25-years-old and part owner of the most-talked about restaurant concept in Kansas City right now, that's quite an accomplishment.
He was first introduced into the restaurant world as delivery boy for McGonigle's Market. During his two years there, Max learned a lot about customer interaction and to always have a pen on hand. From there, he landed at Room 39 and then to The River Club before jumping head first into Port Fonda. Max says with plenty of down time at The River Club, the chefs had time to experiment and perfect recipes. "It was fun and there wasn't a lot of pressure. We made maybe the best fried chicken in the world," he says. "It was a fried chicken think tank."
Even though Max is half of the very popular Port Fonda, he is not the face or star of the business. Partner and head chef Patrick Ryan fills that role and Max is okay with that. "I'm not that way. I've only been cooking for three years as opposed to twenty. It wouldn't be as easy if I wasn't here, but it wasn't my idea," he says. That ability to take a step back and be the wingman to a more looming figure is why their partnership works. "Everyone has to start somewhere. I haven't done anything yet. This is my first adventure." For Max, the benefit comes from the experience and people he'll be meeting along the way.
Max is a huge football guy and his favorite team is our hometown Kansas City Chiefs. "I was really freaking out when (Chiefs quarterback) Matt Cassel came to Port Fonda recently. But I tried to play it cool and waited until he left to lose it. Because if there’s one thing I do know about celebrities, they like when you play it cool. I also stood in line behind (Chiefs linebacker) Derrick Johnson once and played it very cool then, too."
Annie, Max's wife, is an early-childhood educator, which bodes well for their six-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter. "My daughter is super, super smart. They are both great kids," he says. "No, REALLY great kids. They have forced me to make responsible decisions and start a business." Max devotes his spare time to his family. "They make so many sacrifices for me to get to do Port Fonda so I always try to let them know how much I appreciate them. My parents are really helpful with the trailer, sometimes you just need more hands."
For the future, Max has bigger aspirations. "Way down the line, I think I would make a great mayor,"
he says. "I've got a lot of great ideas."
Make KC Better » We're too spread out.
I wish there was more of that neighborhood feel back.