Welcome to the War Horse Kitchen!
Executive Chef Jill Gracia Schmidt
"I grew up in Newton, Kansas surrounded by family and food. Everything we did revolved around a table filled with enough food to feed a small army.
After my mother passed away in 1990, I made it my mission to recreate her best dishes and baked goods. I also learned how to make authentic Mexican cuisine from my Great Grandmother Guadalupe Garcia and my Grandma Meier taught me all her secrets to classic comfort food.
For the past 30+ years I've studied and taking every opportunity to put my skills into practice, having done everything from bartending to running a kitchen line and catering events for hundreds of people. My dream is to share my passion for food with the world. I've wanted my own cooking show since the age of 5. As part of that pursuit, I get to appear on My KC Live (KCTV-5) every Monday sharing my recipes and tips. I have also conducted live online interactive cooking classes every month for T-Mobile since 2020.
Most recently I have enjoyed being the Director of Culinary Innovation for McDonnell-Kinder & Associates here in KC for the last year. I am now influencing food trends and culture through research and development for restaurants around the world.
Being a part of the Culinary Program at War Horses for Veterans since 2022 has been one of the highlights of my career. Giving back through food has long been a passion of mine and I am honored to be able to do exactly that through their extraordinary organization.
My approach to cooking is a lot like everything else I do, full of fun with a touch of manic perfectionism. I love to put my spin on classic dishes and bring my Mexican heritage to the forefront whenever possible."
- Executive Chef Jill Garcia
Executive Chef Gary Hild
Chef Gary Hild CEC, was raised in North Dakota on a working family farm. At age 10 his father bought him a Quarter Horse colt. After months of one-on-one training, the colt was finally saddle broke and Gary participated in numerous 4-H activities until graduating high school. The love for horsemanship is a passion that has stayed with him ever since.
Gary graduated from culinary school in 1972 from Moorehead Technical College in Moorehead, Minnesota. This passion for cooking good nourishing food and mentoring people became a career that spanned over fifty years and continues today.
He worked in hotel kitchens in Minneapolis, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. Each location was an amazing learning experience. Gary moved to Kansas City in 1989 and, as Executive Chef, led teams of kitchen staff working for Marriott, Unity Village, Kingswood Senior Living, and Cerner Headquarters. He served as a Supervising Chef for the Chefs Apprentice Program at Johnson County Community College, mentoring numerous students with their successful career paths in culinary arts.
He and his wife, Debra, created New Century Catering together in 1996. They and their staff provided flavorful and healthy food delivered to corporate and health care clients for several years. Gary was a also a culinary instructor for over twenty years at the Culinary Center of Kansas City, focusing on classes in health and wellness for the public.
In 2003 Gary completed the American Culinary Federation process and was designated a Certified Executive Chef, noted as a CEC. In 2007 he was voted Chef of the Year by the Kansas City chapter of the ACF.
Gary maintains a healthy and active lifestyle. He has completed 18 marathons and numerous other running events and is now a very active cyclist. Last summer he participated in Ragbrai 2023, the 500-mile border-to-border cycling ride across the state of lowa in seven days. He and Debra both enjoy retirement and Gary looks forward to each day that he can work in the War Horse Kitchen to serve the many veterans and first responders, being active behind the stove there since June of 2022.