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Q+A: Meet Q39 executive chef Philip Thompson

Philip Thompson took over as Q39’s head chef in the beginning of 2022, following the long, award-winning legacy of founding chef Rob Magee.

Q39 KCtoday

Meet one of the masterminds behind Q39.

Photo by KCtoday

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Popular barbecue restaurant Q39 (two locations) turned nine years old this April. To celebrate, executive chef Philip Thompson brought back four weeks of specials from past menus.

We went to the Overland Park location — 11051 Antioch Rd. — to talk with Philip about the restaurant’s past, present, and future.

Q: Why did you decide on old favorite dishes as part of the anniversary?

A: The history of Q39 is super important to me as a chef [...] When we changed our menu back last year, I had so many people reaching out to me like, “Oh, my god, you took my favorite thing off the menu, what are you doing?” [...] So we thought it’d be great to give back to our customers and, you know, showing that we listened to people when we get that kind of feedback.

Q: Kansas City has a long legacy of barbecue. Where do you personally see Q39’s place among the whole tradition of KC?

I think that’s the beauty of Kansas City barbecue is there’s so many different people doing barbecue, but everybody offers their own take on it. And I think Q39, we have a very niche, you know, we’re doing chef-driven [based on classical culinary training], real different from some of our competitors. And I think that’s really what sets us apart. And we want to continue to evolve [...] while also staying true to our roots.

Rob’s history on the competition circuit and that competition barbecue was what made Q39 famous [...] so we’re actually starting our own competition team again.

Q: Can you tell me more about your new competition team?

Rob’s history on the competition circuit and that competition barbecue was what make Q39 famous [...] so we’re actually starting our own competition team again [...] We want to go just so that we can get that experience and really bring that back to the restaurant. Like, I want people to come to Q39. And be able to really experience that Q39 competition quality barbecue.

Probably by the end of this month, 50%-75% of my management team will be certified Kansas City barbecue judges. So we can stand here and hold our hand up and say, “We know barbecue because we’re certified judges with Kansas City Barbeque Society.

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