Chef Bradley Gilmore will oversee upcoming Taco Hangover; chef Robert Cantu now at ’37 Steak

“Chefs are, essentially nomadic,” a veteran of many restaurant kitchens once told me. “Unless there’s a perfect storm of the right components — good owner, good salary, well-designed kitchen, and a smoothly managed front of the house – we’re always open to the next opportunity.”

That’s proved true for two area chefs, Bradley Gilmore and Robert Cantu, both formerly employed by Bread & Butter Concepts. Both have moved on to other ventures. After five years with Bread & Butter Concepts, creating menus for Gram & Dun and Republica, executive chef Bradley Gilmore has recently broken ranks with restaurateur Alan Gaylin’s collection of restaurants.

“It was a mutual decision,” Gaylin tells The Pitch. “Nathan Nichols, the chef de cuisine at Gram & Dun, has taken over as executive chef,and Rick Mullins, the former sous chef at Republica, will take over as we make a decision which direction we go.”

So where is Bradley Gilmore these days? He’s getting ready for a Taco Hangover.


Bradley has teamed up with two investors – one from Kansas City, the other from Des Moines – to create a series of new restaurant projects. The first will be a street-taco venue called Taco Hangover, to open this year in Des Moines. “It will not be a Mexican restaurant,” Gilmore says. “We’ll be serving tortillas wrapped around a variety of ingredients, including braised oxtails and even Amish-style scrapple. We are reviving that great ‘80s-style creation, a new spin on the seven-layer dip.” (It’s a relic of the 1970s, actually. As a waiter, I served a ton of it back in the day. But I’m glad to hear it’s trendy again.)

Gilmore says that there are plans to open two more Taco Hangover restaurants in the Kansas City metro over the next two years.

“There are other concepts we’re working on as well,” Gilmore says. “It’s a very exciting opportunity.”

Another Bread & Butter veteran, Robert Cantu, the former chef de cuisine for Republica, left that restaurant about a month after it opened last year. When The Pitch caught up with him last September , he was fielding offers from other restaurants. He soon took the position of executive chef at the 37 Steak, at Harrah’s Casino.

Cantu is happy in his new position — “They treat their employees very well,” he says. So well in fact, that he was soon joined by a few of his former Bread & Butter Concepts associates at the casino property. “There are challenges, of course, that took a little adjustment,” Cantu says. “There’s a very specific accounting system that requires approval from our corporate offices for ordering. That can take a little extra time, but they still encourage their chefs to be creative.” Cantu introduced his new menu for ’37 Steak the day before Restaurant Week kicked off, which had a $33 set menu created by the previous chef, Nick Estell (who took another position outside the state).

“The timing wasn’t great,” Cantu says, “but the feedback has been  positive.”

Some of the more popular dishes were only tweaked by Cantu, others given a more distinctive makeover. He’s now serving, as a side dish, bacon-roasted Brussels sprouts sauteed in bourbon honey butter and a roasted-poblano au gratin potato dish.

A new entree is Cantu’s game duck served two ways. “The breast side is pan-seared, and the leg is fricasseed in cream sauce,” he explains.

The average price for dinner at ’37 Steak, he says, is about $55 per person. The dinner venue serves only certified Angus or expensive Akaushi beef (a Japanese Wagyū breed of cattle) and now charges for the steaks by the ounce, which the casino’s high rollers don’t seem to mind. Cantu is encouraged to create dinner specials, but he understands his clientele. “My job is to please our gamblers and the guests who come to Harrah’s just for dinner,” he says.

Sometimes, you see, a perfect storm is a very good thing.

Categories: Dining, Food & Drink