An accounting career wasn’t what Brian Langbehn, the executive chef at 801 Chophouse at the Paxton, had in mind when he graduated with a business degree, but that’s exactly what he took on. When the position didn’t work out, he recalls telling himself, “I can get another accounting job…but do I want to go back? Or change my life?”
Having a love of food and a fascination with even the simplest of spices, Langbehn packed up and moved east to attend the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. One of his first jobs in the industry was as a pastry assistant at Sugar in Chicago for Christine McCabe, who was named Bon Appetit’s 2005 Pastry Chef of the Year. She taught Langbehn skills, technique, and professionalism. Another opportunity Langbehn took in his quest to learn more about food was an internship with a bed and breakfast in Italy.
Upon moving back to Omaha, Langbehn continued to hone both his cooking and baking skills first as lead baker with Paradise Bakery & Café, followed by work as a caterer with Attitude on Food, and then as a chef in a small café owned by his aunt. He was brought on as the pastry chef for 801 Chophouse in 2007 and has continued to grow there, moving up to sous chef, and eventually executive chef in Spring 2010. (The sous chef role at 801 Chophouse is now covered by Ivan Dondiego, who Langbehn says is doing some great things.)
When Langbehn isn’t working as executive chef at 801 Chophouse or cooking any number of his favorite foods, including risotto, which “is like a blank canvas,” he says, he and his wife enjoy competing in and teaching swing dance. In fact, they met when he began to take dance lessons where she was an instructor. “Time isn’t something I have a lot of,” he notes, adding that being with his wife, brother, sister, and parents is always appreciated.
And while his grandmother, who he was also close to, has passed away, Langbehn fondly recalls the small tart cherry pies she used to make for his family using fresh cherries from her backyard. Recently, he has worked to recreate them and feels that every batch gets him a little closer to his grandmother’s original recipe.
801 Chophouse at the Paxton
1403 Farnam St.