Cody Hogan is the Chef de Cuisine of Lidia’s Kansas City restaurant. He began working with Lidia Bastianich in 1998 and is her traveling assistant, food stylist and the studio chef for her Emmy-nominated television program, which airs on Public Television.
Cody was a classical pianist before discovering a passion for the culinary arts. The former musician is also an avid gardener. His garden is featured on the Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City 2013 Garden Tour, “Unique Gardens of South Kansas City,” June 7-8.
Q. How did you make the transition from musician to chef?
I was a Rotary scholar studying music in Germany. My Rotary parents, the Schumachers, were both retired doctors who loved food. They would invite me to dinner in all of these interesting places, and they would take me to festivals and wineries and food shops. One day Mrs. Schumacher asked me how things were going and I told her I was a little tired of practicing piano eight hours a day. She pointed out that while I could practice piano all day anywhere, perhaps I should take advantage of being in Europe, travel a bit, and experience as much of the culture as possible. I was hooked!
Q. What advice do you have for aspiring chefs?
For home “chefs,” just visit the farmers market (even if you have your own garden), enjoy cooking and try not to watch too much Food Network. For aspiring professional chefs, study something else first. It makes you a more rounded person.
Q. When it comes to working with seasonal ingredients, what time of year is your favorite at Lidia’s and why?
Spring is always exciting. It’s nice to have fresh new ingredients to work with when we’ve been using lots of cabbage and root vegetables for the winter months.
Q. How long have you been gardening and how did you get started?
I planted my first garden my senior year in high school. I don’t remember what inspired me, but I still have my first gardening book, the Better Homes and Gardens Complete Guide to Gardening. I think I read it cover to cover in one sitting. When I was in college, I worked at a nursery for several years and learned how to not kill plants.
Q. What garden ingredient (or ingredients) could you not live without?
That’s like asking what my favorite piece of music is, and it just depends on the day. If I could only have one, I would say great salad greens.
Q. What do you like best about Powell Gardens?
The Heartland Harvest Garden, of course. And the Living Wall on the Island Garden. And when I don’t have time to drive out to Powell, and I want a bit of quick inspiration, I stop at the Kauffman Memorial Garden in Kansas City, which I think of as a little extension of Powell Gardens.
Garden Chef Series Demo at Powell Gardens
Chef Cody comes to the Heartland Harvest Garden on Sunday, May 26 to demonstrate two spring recipes: Ravioli Stuffed with Ricotta and Spinach, and a Frittata with Asparagus and Scallions. Join him in the Missouri Barn at 2 p.m. A limited number of samples will be available!
Lidia’s is located at 101 West 22nd St in Kansas City, Mo. For reservations call 816.221.3722.