• Last modified 434 days ago (March 23, 2023)


Young but experienced chef brings unique recipes

Staff writer

The Brandin’ Iron restaurant opened Saturday with a 29-year-old cook from Emporia, Brandon Lyman.

He was executive chef at Ad Astra Food and Drink in Strong City for five years. He created the menu, ordered food, and managed staff.

Lyman quit in December, and Ad Astra later closed.

“I decided I didn’t want all that responsibility,” he said. “I just wanted to be a cook.”

He learned about the Mills family when he catered a wedding meal for Judy and Randy Mills’ granddaughter, Grace, in November.

When the bakery in the historic opera house in Florence closed, the Mills family decided to open a restaurant and invited Lyman to work for them.

The restaurant had a soft opening Thursday and Friday and a grand opening Saturday.

Sara Dawson, the Mills’ daughter, said it was a good day.

“We learned a lot,” she said.

Lyman fixed 180 meals.

He and his wife both grew up in Colorado. Lyman has been cooking since age 14. While a high school student in Durango, he chose to pursue a career as a chef. He interned in a large hotel in Durango.

Lyman worked in five restaurants in Colorado before he and his wife moved to Emporia eight years ago. They wanted to live where the cost of living was lower.

“I learned under a great chef,” Lyman said. “I’m more into unique menus, not your everyday menus.”

He has notebooks full of recipe ideas. He developed the menu for the Brandin’ Iron, including an eggplant item he served at Ad Astra. It is lightly fried, panko-breaded eggplant rolled with spinach, roasted red peppers, and goat cheese. The rollup is served with homemade marinara.

Other creations are bagel sandwiches, chicken and waffles, flatbread pizza, and four kinds of salads served with homemade croutons.

The bagels come from Crust and Crumb in Newton, and the coffee is roasted in Wichita.

Everything is made from scratch, and all dressings are homemade.

The restaurant features a full bar, as well.

Besides its regular 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. operating hours Tuesday through Saturday, the eatery will be open Friday and Saturday evenings the second week of every month, starting in April.

Lyman and his wife have four children ages 1 to 7. The 45-minute drive to Florence gives him a chance to relax.

“I like to drive, too, and I enjoy the trip,” he said.

Last modified March 23, 2023