They shared some of the highlights from this past spring with host Gina Kaufmann:
1. Café Sebastienne hires David Ford. He’s the new executive chef, taking over Jennifer Maloney’s spot. Maloney, who had been the executive chef since the restaurant opened, passed away at the end of 2016.
“They did a nationwide search … and I’m so pleased they decided to choose someone local,” said Vergara. “David Ford is a great talent. He’s been working with Patrick Ryan at Port Fonda for many years now, so it’ll be wonderful to see how he picks up the reins and moves Café Sebastienne forward.”
2. The American hires Debbie Gold as executive chef. The iconic KC restaurant closed at the end of last year, but it’s now a space for private parties and pop-up events.
“(The American) had a great tradition of producing James Beard Foundation Award-winning chefs, and Debbie Gold was one of those chefs,” said Bloch. Gold will helm the kitchen, and the Food Critics speculated that she might also help out when The American brings in other chefs for pop-up events.
“She has a reach that’s worldwide, nationwide,” said Vergara. “Her pull will be very interesting in terms of who she’ll get to come in.”
3. The Rieger hires Amy Beeman as its first pastry chef. Beeman just moved back to KC from Boston, where she was working at a Middle Eastern café, Sofra Bakery, under pastry chef (and James Beard Award-nominee) Maura Kilpatrick.
“(Beeman) has a real interesting spice palate that she’s going to be bringing to the really hardy, lovely food that Howard Hanna does,” said Vergara.
4. Cody Hogan is the new General Manager at Lidia’s Kansas City. He’s been with the restaurant since it opened in the late 1990s, starting as a pastry chef and becoming its chef de cuisine. He also traveled with Lidia Bastianich and helped prep her TV shows.
“I can’t think of a better person to bring both the back of the house and the front of the house together in such a meaningful way,” said Vergara.
5. Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room opens. Earlier this year, it made Eater’s list of "The 16 Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings of 2017.” Michael Corvino, who used to be at The American, has created two restaurants in one, said Bloch. There’s a big supper club with a long bar with live music (low-key during dinner), plus a small tasting room. After 10 or so, Corvino offers a late-night menu, featuring a “ginormous” cheeseburger — his homage to the Town Topic burger, said Bloch — and the music gets less mellow and more late-night-y as well.
6. Attitude opens in Midtown. Breakfast and lunch only. You can get a traditional breakfast: eggs, biscuits and gravy and the like. But in the afternoon, the menu features more Italian dishes.
According to Vergara, it also serves great desserts: a mile-high coconut cream pie, "gobs" (a Polish version of whoopie pies), cookies and more.
7. TikiCat opens in Westport, in the basement of HopCat. The president and CEO of HopCat is a fan of tiki, said Vergara, and when he bought the space for HopCat, he decided to test his own tiki bar in the basement and brought in well-known tiki artists to decorate the space. The menu includes classic tiki drinks and more, but no food. “It’s my new obsession,” said Vergara. “It’s really good and really fun.”
8. Boru Ramen opens in Waldo. “It’s not just a ramen shop,” said Bloch. The full-service restaurant serves steamed buns, fried rice and more.
9. Andre’s Confiserie Suisse on Main Street is remodeling its tea room after 40 years. It’ll look current, like the front of the store, and the Swiss chalet will stay, said Vergara.
*Editor's note: some information was updated after clarification from a business operator.
Jen Chen is associate producer for KCUR's Central Standard. Reach out to her at email@example.com.