Topeka's Top 20 Under 40: Adam VanDonge
The White Linen
He hopes one day his passion for food will earn him the James Beard Award, a Michelin Star, and put Topeka in the culinary spotlight. Adam tries to lead by example. He mentors local teenagers by allowing them to shadow him to learn valuable skills they can use in their own careers. Adam is proud of his role in helping to attract more locals and out-of-towners to the hidden magic that is Downtown Topeka.
“I challenge each and every one of my team members to do better than the day before. Every day is a new opportunity to grow and become better.”
What important characteristic should every leader possess?
Each of my tattoos has so much meaning behind them. Two of my tattoos on my hands say “Dedication” and “Hard Work.” I truly believe that those two characteristics are key. You have to be dedicated to what you believe in. And, everyone knows that nothing comes easy, so you have to be willing to sacrifice and work hard.
What do you hope your legacy will be?
My legacy, hopefully, will be to not only put Topeka on the map for restaurants, but to be known for what I did for Topeka as a whole. I want to change how Topeka looks at food, and I want to be a voice for change.
Who are your heroes?
I have two—my father and my wife. My father has taught me to work hard, never give up and takea risk. My wife is probably the hardest working person I know. She pushes me every day to be my best.
What is your motivation?
Doubters and naysayers. When starting my cooking career, I don’t know how many times I heard “you can’t do that.” I still hear this. I hate it but enjoy it at the same time because it pushes me harder.
Lisa Loewen | Editor-in-Chief
Erin Aldridge & Enedina Patch | Compiled Content
Nathan Ham, Nathan Ham Photography | Photographer