From SMSD to National Acclaim, Chef Brad Kilgore Inspires Culinary Students

From SMSD to National Acclaim, Chef Brad Kilgore Inspires Culinary Students
Shawnee Mission School District



As one of the best high school culinary programs in the country, the Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) Broadmoor Bistro has some impressive alumni, but Chef Brad Kilgore’s resume is tough to beat. 

Kilgore is a Shawnee Mission South graduate who found his passion for food in the kitchens of Broadmoor. 

“He was just like all of the students here in high school,” explained Chef Justin Hoffman, a former classmate of Kilgore’s and a Culinary Arts Instructor at the Center for Academic Achievement. “He didn’t really know what he wanted to do and got a job in a fast-food restaurant in high school, worked at McDonald's, worked at a fried chicken place, and then realized that this was something he was very good at and could make a career out of.”

Since graduating from SM South, Kilgore has been recognized as one of the best chefs in the country. He was named “Chef of the Year” by the Miami Herald twice, he’s a James Beard Award finalist, he was recognized as “Best New Chef in America” by Food & Wine Magazine, and his restaurant, Alter, was “internationally recognized twice by San Pellegrino’s "The World's 50 Best."

But Kilgore hasn’t forgotten about his culinary roots. He has returned to Shawnee Mission four times in the past decade to participate in the program’s mentoring series. The annual series started in 2004 as an opportunity to bring “the industry to our students” with world-class chefs from across the country. 

“When the chefs come in, they talk about how they got into the industry, and it enables the students to actually have a bit of realism,” said Chef Bob Brassard, Kilgore’s former teacher and a former Shawnee Mission Culinary Arts Instructor (Brassard recently retired after 23 years in SMSD). “Most of the time, students are looking at a Food Network or something like that, and that really is not what the reality of our industry is. So, by having chefs come in and telling their stories, some of the students can identify with that.”

Throughout the school year, the Culinary Arts program hosts several chef mentors. In addition to sharing their experiences and personal stories, the chefs also participate in the Broadmoor Bistro’s weekly dinner service as guest chefs, teaching students about new foods, ingredients, preparations, and techniques.

This spring, Kilgore returned to the Broadmoor kitchen guiding students through the details and intricacies of a five-course meal with passed appetizers and dessert. 

“We surprise a lot of our guest chefs,” said Brassard. “Some of the guest chefs are student alumni, but a lot of the guest chefs are James Beard chefs and they come into this building and they're working with these kids and they're like, ‘All right, you're 15?!’ I’d take ten of you tomorrow.’ … We grow the passion, we grow their interest, and hopefully they network.”

“For Brad to share his story with all of our students is, you know, can’t put a price tag on it,” said Hoffman. “But to also know he's an alumnus and to see what he's doing, I think it kind of just hits on a different cylinder, and I think that's really, really special for our students to see.”

The Broadmoor Bistro is run entirely by SMSD culinary students and provides dinner service on Wednesdays throughout the school year. To make a reservation you can check out their website here: