Food Network chef to bring big, bold flavor to Kansas City

Northeast News
March 13, 2013

Aaron McCargo, Jr.
Photo: Business Wire


Food Network Chef Aaron McCargo, Jr., is ready to bring his “big, bold flavor” to Kansas City.

For 25 years, McCargo has been concocting dishes aimed to please and is now on a four-city tour sponsored by Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA) to raise awareness of chronic kidney disease (CKD).

McCargo, host of the Food Network’s television show “Big Daddy’s House,” kicked off the tour in Chicago, Ill., and his next stop is Kansas City on March 15-16.

McCargo will visit with patients and family members at area dialysis clinics, sharing kidney-friendly recipes and delectable samples.

“I take feedback from patients and try to create something that will really wow them,” McCargo told Northeast News. 

He’ll also make an appearance at the North Kansas City Missouri State BBQ Championship.

For McCargo, CKD is personal; his sister-in-law is currently on dialysis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CKD affects more than 20 million Americans aged 20 years and older.

Those on dialysis attend treatment several times a week and must adhere to a strict diet.

“They’re supposed to go home and live a lifestyle like you and I and they have a restrictive diet they have to follow, down to the amount of liquids your allowed to have and the fruits and vegetables. It’s not another day at the park,” McCargo said.

Those on dialysis must avoid apples, oranges, tomatoes, potatoes, nuts, beans and more – foods the rest of us take for granted, he said. They must also avoid salt and saturated fats.

To fill the void of salt and fat, McCargo said he uses a variety of herbs and spices, like cumin, chili powder, cilantro, basil, lemon and orange zest, among others.

Something as simple as lime zest “really changes the flavor from bland to bold,” he said.

McCargo’s kidney-friendly recipes are easy, affordable and don’t require complicated gadgets, he said. They’re also tasty and something the entire family can enjoy, he said.

At each stop, McCargo will reveal a new recipe catered to the region’s cuisine. Asked to give a hint about Kansas City’s recipe, he said, “It’s definitely Kansas City related, and of course we all know Kansas City is known for its barbecue, so I’ll leave it at that.”

As for his cooking style, McCargo said he’s a “freestyle chef” who focuses on making the “taste buds jump” and creating recipes that won’t break the bank.

“It’s always been an interest of mine to cook,” he told Northeast News. “I always tell people it’s truly a blessing from God to not be classically trained or formally trained so much, but having a creative mind and being willing to think outside the box when it comes to food…

“I love doing what I do. I love traveling across the country and the challenge of creating recipes that are dialysis friendly and creating recipes for you and myself that don’t have any restrictions on my diet. It’s all about the big, bold flavor with me.”

During the tour, McCargo said he hopes the families and patients realize his recipes come from the heart and that “someone is on their side when it comes to understanding their dietary struggles in the kitchen.”

“Hopefully they know I’m doing this because it’s a way to show off my gift, give back to my sister-in-law and to help the millions of people that are dealing with the same disease across the country.”

Missouri State  BBQ Championship

March 16 @ Finnigan’s Hall, 503 E. 18th Ave., North Kansas City, Mo.

Chef McCargo will be at the event throughout the day and will be available for meet and greets at the FMCNA booth at noon, 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.


Turkey Chili by Chef Aaron McCargo, Jr. and Fresenius Medical Care


·       2 quarts low-sodium chicken stock

·       2 pounds fresh “natural” turkey breast, boneless, skinless, cubed small

·       ¼ cup canola oil

·       1 cup onions, diced

·       1 cup red and green bell peppers, diced

·       ¼ cup celery, finely diced

·       1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning

·       1 tablespoon cumin

·       1 tablespoon black pepper

·       2 tablespoons dark hot chili powder

·       ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

·       ½ cup flour

·       2 tablespoons no-sodium chicken bouillon


In large stock pot add stock and turkey and cook for about 1 hour or until turkey begins to become fork tender. In large sauté pan on medium-high heat add oil, then onions, bell peppers, celery, Italian seasoning, cumin, black pepper, chili powder and cayenne pepper, stirring for 2-4 minutes. Add flour while stirring constantly for 3-5 minutes to create a paste-like consistency. Turn off heat. Add bouillon to stock pot and stir. Add vegetable mixture slowly to stock pot, stirring constantly from the pot’s sides and bottom to make sure nothing gets scorched. Continue to cook for 15-20 minutes until thickened. Turn off heat and serve.

Serves 8

1 serving = 3 ounces (84g)

Nutrient analysis:

Calories: 261, Protein: 28g, Carbohydrate: 5g, Total Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Potassium: 518mg, Phosphorus: 218mg, Sodium: 208mg


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