Jean-Paul Wong grew up in the Missouri Ozarks, where he says, “despite my efforts to refine myself, I remain an avid outdoorsman. If I’m not at a gala fundraiser, you can find me in a river.” But he’s not just floating down that river. Last summer he finished the MR340, a 340-mile kayak race on the Missouri River from K.C. to St. Louis. This August he plans to attempt the same race using a stand-up paddleboard. And about that fundraiser—Wong and his wife, Heather, are widely known for their civic involvement. Currently he is serving on several non-profit boards, including the Kansas City Ballet, Arts KC and the Francis Family Foundation. As if that’s not enough to keep him busy, he’s the owner of Pure Workplace Solutions, a commercial interiors firm, which is building a new showroom in midtown Kansas City.
01. Reuben sandwich at Browne’s Irish Market. Comfort food should be packed with intense flavor and have high fat and sodium content. It should be warm, with a gooey interior and crunchy exterior. Butter should be an ingredient. Browne’s has served Irish food to locals from that same building at 33rd and Pennsylvania since 1901. Their Reuben is made with good corned beef on grilled rye bread, with sauerkraut, melted Swiss cheese and Russian dressing.
02. My Paolini sport jacket. Tom Paolini helped design it. Every detail is custom, including the shape, the lining, the pockets, the lapel and the buttons. It goes with denim or to the boardroom. It’s in my rotation often.
03. Samara Umbral. My current favorite K.C.-based artist. Her ultra-detailed, realistic depictions of young women—a day in their life as if taken from a cellphone—are both intimate and captivating. They’re so intricate you can’t believe they’re not photographs.
04. Retro Inferno. They have a great collection of classic period pieces. I’m nostalgic, and my parents were modernists, accumulating their furnishings and art in the 60s and 70s. My house isn’t filled with it, but a few good pieces are required.
05. My Moleskine sketchbook. Made in Italy, it has the quality of a nicely bound old book. It’s hardcover and the pages aren’t removable, so I can keep my project notes chronologically and permanently. I use one until it’s completely full.
06. John Varvatos fragrance. It’s clean and masculine, not too much of anything. It’s subtle, so it can be worn everyday. At least no one at work has complained yet.
07. Balvenie DoubleWood Single Malt Scotch Whiskey with a couple of rocks. Made simply from fermenting malted barley and water, you can taste the unique flavors of the Scotch region and the oak barrels in which it matured.
08. Charles and Ray Eames. Their modern furniture designs were the inspiration for many of today’s furniture designs. They were ahead of their time and their work is still highly desired today as classic examples of midcentury modern.