Jen Chen

Associate Producer, Central Standard

Ways to Connect

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:

Sergio Jordá Gregori / Flickr -- CC

Whether it’s served as a side or as the base of a dish — or even sweetened for breakfast or dessert — rice is part of many beloved dishes around the world.

“From a Midwestern perspective, a lot of it is used as a filler,” Food Critic Jenny Vergara told guest host Brian Ellison on KCUR’s Central Standard.

“I think what makes a hero rice dish stand out is something that absolutely makes rice the centerpiece,” she added.

From sushi to paella, rice is a staple in many different cultures. Closer to home, we'll hear about growing rice in Missouri, plus how one local chef buys and prepares it. Then, our Food Critics uncover the best rice dishes in and around Kansas City.

Guests:

Paul Andrews / http://paulandrewsphotography.com/

For Mark Bedell, school was a safe haven.

“It gave me an opportunity to be a kid because I had to be an adult a lot sooner than most kids should have to be an adult,” he told guest host Brian Ellison on Central Standard.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com/

He was homeless in the ninth grade. And today, he's in charge of the Kansas City Public Schools. Meet the new superintendent.

Guest:

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

It seems as if nearly every culture has some version of dumplings: a sweet or savory filling surrounded by dough and either fried, boiled, steamed or baked.

They’re inexpensive, tasty and versatile; they can be served on their own with a dipping sauce or in soup … or in some cases, with the soup inside the dumpling.

“Every culture really enjoys something doughy, and I think it’s that carb-y lift that we get from it,” Food Critic Jill Silva told guest host Brian Ellison on KCUR's Central Standard.

Matthew Long-Middleton / KCUR 89.3

From empanadas to samosas and dumplings (and dessert versions), our Food Critics search out the best dough-wrapped dishes in and around KC.

Plus, an interview about Nepalese dumplings live from the Ethnic Enrichment Festival, a primer on kolaches and how love led one restaurant owner to KC, where she serves up Jamaican patties.

Guests:

C.J. Janovy / KCUR 89.3

Mark Hayes’s musical career started with a decision: piano lessons or band instrument?

He was going to grade school in Normal, Illinois, and his school offered lessons. Since he had three siblings, his parents said that they could afford to pay for either one or the other.

He chose the piano, and, as he said, he never looked back.

It's the new Netflix series that's winning audiences by invoking the 1980s ... and by freaking us out. We talk about the appeal of Stranger Things, along with our nostalgia for the music and films of three decades ago.

Guests:

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It’s been an especially active summer in the Kansas City food scene.

KCUR’s Food Critics — Charles Ferruzza, Jill Silva and Jenny Vergara — have been keeping an eye on what’s new and noteworthy in local dining. They shared the highlights with guest host Brian Ellison on Friday’s Central Standard.

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“Farm-to-table” is a concept that's been embraced by restaurants. But what does that term really mean?

“People are very interested in ‘where does my food come from?’” said Jill Silva of The Kansas City Star.

As the locally-sourced movement has grown, so has the variety and quantity of food available in area restaurants.

And because farm-to-table depends on what chefs get from the farmers, some dishes won't stay on a menu for long.

From The Farm

Aug 5, 2016

"Farm-to-table" has become a trendy concept, but what does it really mean? A chat with the co-founders of a local group that's trying to change the way we look at food, then our Food Critics search out the best farm-to-table dishes in and around KC. Plus, a look at what's new and noteworthy in local dining.

Guests:

Paul Andrews/paulandrewsphotography.com

On his 9th birthday, Crosby Kemper III realized that his family was different.

His aunt’s ex-husband had kidnapped his cousin, and the uncle was arrested by the FBI at the New Orleans airport. That incident made the front pages of newspapers all over the country.

Paul Andrews/paulandrewsphotography.com

Crosby Kemper III is a library executive, the co-founder of a politically conservative think tank and the heir to a famous Kansas City name. What was it like growing up Kemper ... and then, to make a name of one's own?

Guest:

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Whether it’s thin and crispy or thick and juicy, the burger is a great blank slate for all sorts of toppings and flavors. And don’t forget veggie burgers; in this meat-friendly town, it’s entirely possible to find a hearty and satisfying meatless patty.

From the greasy to the gourmet, KCUR’s Food Critics search out the best burgers — and sides that aren’t fries — in Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Jenny Vergara, Feast Magazine:

Patties

Jul 22, 2016
Anna Sturla / KCUR 89.3

From greasy to gourmet, the burger is an American classic. We chat with a chef who spent a lot of time developing his veggie burger recipe, then KCUR's Food Critics search out the best burgers (and sides that aren't fries) in KC.

Guests:

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