Jen Chen

Associate Producer, Central Standard

Ways to Connect

Paul Andrews

In this encore presentation of Central Standard, local artist and pastor Dylan Mortimer discusses his art, his faith and his battle with cystic fibrosis, which he faced head on in his exhibit last January called "Cure."

Guest:

Steven Depolo / Flickr -- CC

Why is comfort food so … well … comforting?

“Carbohydrates,” said KCUR Food Critic Charles Ferruzza.

“I think comfort food is heavy, filling, fattening food that you know you probably shouldn’t be eating,” he told host Gina Kaufmann on Central Standard. “But if you’re sick or depressed or cold, it really hits the spot.”

For Food Critic Carmen Gramajo, though, it’s also the memories associated with those dishes.

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It's an especially good time of year for comfort food. It's cold out, and it's the holidays, when traditional, hearty, no-frills dishes show up on our tables. KCUR's Food Critics search out the best comforting dishes (outside of grandma's house) in and around KC.

Plus, one reporter's memories of Winstead's (and why you get one tater tot in your order of fries there), and a visit to Sugar Creek, where a former mayor and his wife throw an annual holiday party — a tradition that came with their hilltop house.

Guests:

Meet the KCK native who is the resident playwright at the KC Rep and one of the writers for "Marvel's Luke Cage" on Netflix.

Guest:

Star Athena / Flickr -- CC

Some people have strict rules when it comes to cookies.

"Can we agree ... any cookie that does not have butter as an ingredient should never be made?" Charles Ferruzza asked host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

Ferruzza, with our other Food Critics, searched out the best cookies in and around Kansas City — with and without butter.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

C Is For Cookie

Dec 9, 2016
Deborah Lee Soltesz / Flickr -- CC

It's the holiday season, which means it's time for cookies. Whether you like them soft and chewy or hard and crunchy, KCUR's Food Critics search out the best cookies in and around KC.

Guests:

Régine Debatty / Flickr -- CC

Even though he was born in the United States, artist Roger Shimomura still gets asked where he’s from. Or he’s told that he speaks English really well.

“The presumption is that if you’re Asian, you must be foreign to this country,” he told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Paul Andrews

A chat with the local actor and director about being an out teen in Blue Springs, how he helped create the campy and irreverent Late Night Theatre group and how, until recently, he couldn't perform onstage without throwing up.

Guest:

Courtesy of Craig Jones

Where do you get your hard-shell taco? You know, the kind that's filled with seasoned ground beef, shredded lettuce and cheese and a soupy red sauce?

Well, for some Kansas Citians, it depends on where you grew up.

According to Craig Jones, In-A-Tub is a Northland tradition.

"For a lot of people that grew up north of the river, that was their first foray into Mexican food," he told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

The DLC / Flickr -- CC

Seasoned ground beef, lettuce and shredded cheese in a crunchy shell. Or braised and shredded pork wrapped in a soft corn or flour tortilla and topped with cilantro, diced onions and salsa. Whichever kind you grew up on, there's a taco for everyone in KC.

On KCUR's Central Standard, our Food Critics searched out the best tacos in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

The hard-shell taco as comfort food at beloved local institutions In-A-Tub and Taco Via, then the executive chef of a Mexican fusion restaurant on putting new twists on traditional recipes and ingredients.

Plus, KCUR's Food Critics search out the best tacos in and around KC.

Guests:

www.foodnetwork.com

As a contestant on the Food Network's “Cutthroat Kitchen: Tournament of Terror,” local chef Janet Ross had to cook with tools that wouldn’t be out of place in a horror movie.

“The dishes themselves you think, ‘Well, no problem.’ But it’s a problem if you’re wearing claws that are barely sharp enough to cut and totally curved to where you are just ripping at food,” she told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Arturo Pardavila III / Flickr -- CC

Sluggerrr's handler weighs in on Mascots, Christopher Guest's new mockumentary, then KCUR's political podcast host discusses competition in sports and politics.

Also: sportswriter Joe Posnanski on the Cubs-Royals connection, curses, underdogs and more.

Guests:

Fruit And Desserts

Oct 28, 2016
Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A local orchard owner talks about agritourism (corn mazes, pumpkin patches, the corn pit and more), a pastry chef fries up some apple pie, then KCUR's Food Critics search out the best desserts in and around KC.

Guests:

Paul Andrews/paulandrewsphotography.com

For the past six years, Jyoti Mukharji has opened her home kitchen to teach Kansas Citians about Indian cuisine.

But to her fans, her classes are more than just about cooking. Mukharji peppers her talk with personal stories and health tips, then the class ends in a dinner party around her dining room table.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Don't ask Todd Sheets about the first horror film that he made.

"It's godawful," he told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard. "Anything I made before '93 I kind of disowned."

Sheets started making horror movies in the late 1980s in Kansas City. He quickly earned a cult following; he was even dubbed the "Prince of Gore."

Paul Andrews / http://paulandrewsphotography.com/

For the past six years, Jyoti Mukharji has opened her home kitchen to teach Kansas Citians about Indian cooking.

But to her fans, her classes are more than just about learning how to cook; she shares health tips and personal stories ... such as how she defied expectations on arranged marriage and on going to med school.

Guest:

  • Jyoti Mukharji, local culinary instructor

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There’s a pizza for everyone, from the picky toddler to the late-night reveler and the sophisticated gourmand.

From wood-fired to deep-dish, you can go traditional or dress it up with fancy toppings like fig jam. Get enough for a crowd or order individual pies that are made from scratch and baked in front of you.

On Central Standard’s annual pizza show, our Food Critics searched out the best pizza in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

A local chef recommends the best fall harvest toppings, then KCUR's Food Critics search out the best pizza of 2016 in and around KC. Plus, is there anything that makes KC pizza unique?

Guests:

The 2006 film Idiocracy has become shorthand for the dumbing down of American culture. What are we really saying when we reference the movie?

Guests:

Michael Allen Smith / Flickr --CC

It's officially fall on the calendar, and our mornings and nights are starting to cool down. Time to get out the sweaters and blankets and indulge in a hot drink.

From that morning cup of joe to more boozy concoctions, KCUR's Food Critics search out the best hot beverages in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Jenny Vergara, Feast Magazine:

A quest to find the pumpkin in pumpkin spice lattes, then KCUR's Food Critics search out the best hot beverages in and around KC.

Guests:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

He’s an internationally-known food writer and photographer, an attorney and a former Congressional aide to Sam Brownback.

She’s the communications director at Planned Parenthood Great Plains, and her career has also included time as a competitive figure skater and as a local TV news anchor.

And they also happen to be siblings.

Alissa Walker / Flickr - CC

Before LaCroix Sparking Water became a trendy drink, it was a favorite of Midwestern moms.

That’s according to Vox.com reporter Libby Nelson, author of "Why LaCroix Sparkling Water Is Suddenly Everywhere."

In her article, she traces how the bubbly drink  — which she remembers from her Kansas City childhood as “the pastel cases of tasteless soda that my Girl Scout leader packed into her minivan” — went from a Midwestern staple to a status symbol.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

They're a Northland brother and sister who have traveled the world — he as a food writer and photographer, she in a career that's included time as an Olympic figure skater and a local TV news anchor. We chat with Bonjwing and Bonyen Lee in a family Portrait Session show.

Guests:

Courtesy of KC Shrimp

Mitch Schieber got into the shrimp farming business by chance.

He does remodeling for a living, but he had been looking at different careers. Then, a couple of years ago, his daughter, who was in fifth grade, was doing a science experiment with brine shrimp.

He started wondering if he could raise real shrimp.

Liz West / Flickr -- CC

It’s a misconception that we can’t get access to fresh seafood here in the landlocked Midwest.

Locally, we can get catfish, trout and now shrimp grown in Oak Grove, Missouri. And fish wholesalers bring seafood from far-away oceans to KC.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A visit to a KCK restaurant that doesn't see geography as a barrier to serving fresh seafood, then we hear about an Oak Grove farm that's raising shrimp.

Plus, KCUR's Food Critics search out the best seafood in and around KC.

Guests:

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Around a year ago, Bishop James Johnston came to Kansas City to lead the Catholics of northwest Missouri at a challenging time. He came in with an agenda not of his choosing: to clean up the mess of the sexual abuse scandal that engulfed his predecessor. But he also has hopes and priorities of his own.

Bishop Johnston spoke with guest host Brian Ellison on KCUR’s Central Standard about what his job entails, and about his journey from electrical engineer to getting the call from the Vatican to come to Kansas City.

It's this season's most compelling made-for-TV drama: The 2016 election. From costumes to stage sets to the use of music and more, we explore the role of political theater. How do candidates present themselves on stage and screen for drama ... or comedy?

Guests:

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