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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A local restaurant owner and award-winning pitmaster took his skills abroad. A Craig’s List ad looking for an American experienced with barbecue called him to Paris, and in a little more than 48 hours of getting back to the States, the executive chef he was teaching came to visit. Mitch Benjamin, part owner of Char Bar in Westport, is back from Paris after teaching them a thing or two about barbecue. “It tastes like Kansas City, as far as I’m concerned,” Benjamin said. Benjamin spent the last two months in France showing Paul Patterson, the executive chef of Rosie’s Smokehouse BBQ, the fundamentals of KC barbecue. “My knowledge of barbecue isn’t that great,” Patterson said. “So it was perfect.” Before Benjamin arrived, Patterson said the internet was his best friend, looking up videos on how to smoke, slice and trim the best barbecue. “We did a full American style menu,” Benjamin said. “You can get similar ingredients so there is a slight difference,” Patterson explained, “but everything tastes amazing!” Benjamin said they stayed true to Kansas City flavors and taste — just toned down the spices. “Parisians in general, I was informed, don’t like a high spice content,” Benjamin said. “But also we were catering to Americans that were over there visiting, so we wanted to be authentic.” Benjamin said one of the best parts was introducing Parisians to burnt ends. “To watch people’s eyes light up and say ‘What is that? What is that?’ You know, stuff like that was so fun,” Benjamin said, smiling.
Paul Patterson, left, and Char Bar owner Mitch Benjamin
His biggest battle? The metric system. When he asked for a cup of something, “They would give me a coffee cup and a bigger spoon and a smaller spoon and say, ‘just figure it out bro’,” Benjamin explained laughing. Benjamin’s job there is done, but he isn’t closing the door on Paris. He’ll go back. “Cheers, bro,” Patterson said to Benjamin. After all, he now has family to visit. “BBQ brings people together in the states and overseas,” Benjamin said. “It’s a real community and family.” Patterson agrees. “He’s like family now. It’s cool, really random,” Patterson admitted, laughing. “But now it’s awesome.” If you want to try Benjamin’s style of barbecue, but can’t quite make the trip to Paris, he’s opening a new restaurant in the Ranch Mart Shopping Center in Leawood called Meat Mitch Barbecue. It’s set to open this fall. Patterson tried Kansas City barbecue for the first time Tuesday during his KC visit. See his reaction in the video below.