Tucked in the corner of the Kemper Art Museum, you’ll find the sleek yet intimate restaurant, Café Sebastienne. Though it is a popular spot for museum-goers to stop in at before or after their visit, the patrons of Café Seb extend beyond that – and for good reason. The food tastes incredible and is as beautiful as the art it shares walls with.
That’s all thanks to the hardworking staff and chef of Café Seb. Though he may be too humble to admit it, Chef Rick Mullins is astonishingly creative and innovative. In fact, it’s hard to believe that he didn’t have ambitions to become a chef all along.
Originally from Hutchinson, KS, Mullins has been working professionally in the food world for about eight years. He found himself there after needing a change of pace in his life. He’s also a musician, and knew that doing something with his hands and that was also artistic could be a good fit for him. His first official gig was with Bread + Butter concepts, working at a few of the restaurants under their umbrella. It was later, during his time at Bluestem, that he discovered his love for all things farming – safe to say, a discovery that has completely changed his approach to cooking. Day after day, he would see fresh produce arrive at the restaurant from farmers around the region, and what a difference those ingredients made as a part of the final dish. But even beyond the ingredients, Mullins gained an enormous appreciation and amount of respect for hardworking farmers.
Now that he’s leading the way at Café Seb, Mullins is focused on continuing to build those farmer relationships and using their fresh products on the menu as much as possible. This of course, includes, sustainably raised trout grown right here in Missouri and sourced by Seattle Fish Co. If you follow him on Instagram, you’ll see that he’s constantly fiddling with food even when he’s not on the clock — often from his own garden. Recently he’s been pickling ripe (and unripe) strawberries, as well as rose petals and spruce tips.
Mullins will be the first to tell you that learning about farming has not only enriched his life in an educational way, but also shifted his perspective. “What’s the point of a chef without food? This is a reminder of my place in the culinary world: which is nowhere without others. It has taught me that life is extremely delicate, and that we need to be taking better care of the ground, sky and water than we are.” (For the record, Chef, we couldn’t agree more!)
Chef Mullins is excited to see how the Kansas City dining scene continues to change and grow over the next several years. He’s hopeful that we’ll start to see more simple, honest, and clean food on menus automatically — instead of having to request it. And he’s also looking forward to a more multicultural scene, and immigrant chefs garnering more recognition for their incredible work. “Kansas City his a lot of diversity, we’re lucky. There are so many great spots and chefs on the Westside and in the Northeast. People are sleeping on it. We need to bring more of that to the forefront.”
Thank you, Chef Mullins, for sharing your time and perspective with us. We can’t wait to see (and eat!) whatever you come up with next.
Café Sebastienne is located within the Kemper Art Museum. Please consider paying them a visit next time you are looking for a delicious brunch, lunch or dinner. Their hours are as follows – Lunch: Tuesday through Friday, 11:00am-2:30pm; Dinner: Thursday and Friday, 5:00-9:00pm; Brunch: Saturday and Sunday 10:00am-2:30pm.