Chow Town

For Craig Adcock, it’s rum cakes, cooking classes and barbecue

I’ve finally met Craig Adcock in person and he was just about exactly how I thought he’d be: passionate, talented, friendly and a bit frantic.

Prior to hanging out and eating some sausage, cheese, lamb chops, squash risotto and rum cake with a scoop of Adcock’s and Christopher Elbow’s ice cream mash up, I’d had many a conversation with him via Facebook.

Nearly all of those conversations ended with Adcock saying we should get together and “pop some corks.” So that’s what we did. It was a lot of fun on a nasty Saturday as the freezing rain turned my car and the parking in front of Adcock’s kitchen into a sheet of ice.

For those of you who don’t know, Adcock is the proprietor of Jude’s Rum Cake, Belly Up Barbecue and Table Ocho. He’s an accomplished baker, an impressive cook and a lover of life to the fullest.

“I was working for Sprint and I liked my job, but my wife and I both knew I was going to do something on my own, so she told me to take the buyout package and do it,” Adcock said.

Known to many around town as “The Rum Cake Dude,” Adcock certainly turns out a mean rum cake. He says he was first introduced to rum cakes when he and his mother-in-law decided to try one for his birthday. Adcock contributed a bottle of rum he had brought back from Panama, and voila, a star was born.

Adcock says he sold 35 rum cakes in 2008. He sold 15,000 in 2013.

“I was always a barbecue guy and then the rum cake started getting the spotlight, so now I’m a rum cake guy that happens to do barbecue.” Adcock said. “Granted, the cakes don’t suck, but it’s barbecue that really gets me fired up.”

None more so than when Adcock received an invitation to the South Beach Wine and Food Festival in Miami, the first for any local out of Kansas City.

“Honestly, I thought someone was punking me. As it turns out, I was asked to participate in the ‘Q’ event, which featured 30 of the top culinary barbecue personalities in the nation,” Adcock said. “As the first local to be invited to the South Beach Festival, I knew I had to share the soul of Kansas City.”

About a hundred bone-in ribeyes, topped with a Hatch chili compound butter, paella with andoille sausage from the Local Pig — and a lot of other ingredients — and 2,500 servings of rum cake later, Adcock had not only shared the soul of Kansas City, but likely popped some pant buckles.

That’s so like Adcock who’s not much for moderation or adulation.

“We’re not doing this for the ‘look-at-me factor’ or the ‘I love me wall.’ We’re doing it because we actually love it and we like to see the smile of people’s faces,” Adcock said.

Which brings me to Table Ocho where Adcock has you and seven or your closest friends, or not, into his kitchen for a home-cooked, multi-course feast. These are great for corporate outings, family gatherings or just to meet a bunch of like-minded folks who enjoy great food and great wine. You can either bring in your own beverages, or Adcock can supply them for you. Set your budget and you’re set.

“I think I did 14 Table Ocho’s in December alone. What I enjoy the most is seeing someone who’s kind of a tight-you-know-what loosen up over the course of the night and really enjoy themselves. That happens all the time,” Adcock told me.

“My wife still pays the bills, but I have lots of fun. We’re all about lifestyle here,” said Adcock.

Amen to that, brother. Let’s pop more corks sometime soon.

Dave Eckert is the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS-TV and Wealth TV for 12 seasons, or nearly 300 half-hour episodes produced on six continents. Eckert is also an avid wine collector and aficionado, having amassed a personal wine cellar of some 2,000 bottles.