Food Critics

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Chicken isn't the most exciting protein.

“It’s like the vodka of the food world,” Food Critic Jenny Vergara told guest host Brian Ellison on KCUR's Central Standard. “It takes on the flavor of whatever you put in it or put with it.”

But that’s the beauty of chicken — and why it’s a beloved staple in many cultures. Whether you like it fried, roasted or grilled, in strips or shredded (and, for the kids, in nugget form), you can find chicken at all price points.

Jules / Flickr -- CC

Which came first? Well, on this show, it's the egg. An eggs-pert (sorry, had to) tells us why the shell and yolk color can vary — and whether it makes a difference in taste.

Plus, a visit to Niecie's Restaurant to find out more about their chicken and waffles, then KCUR's Food Critics search out the best chicken dishes in and around Kansas City.

Guests:

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Forget the sad desk lunch. The lunch break is a time to get out and explore new restaurants.

Whether you’re looking for something fast and affordable or luxurious — or something to grab and take to a nearby park (hi, spring!) — KCUR’s Food Critics search out the best lunch spots in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Bonjwing Lee, The Ulterior Epicure:

Let's Do Lunch

Feb 24, 2017

From the fast and affordable to the luxurious, KCUR's Food Critics search out the best lunch spots in and around Kansas City.

Guests:

Michael Korcuska / Flickr -- CC

From the old classics to “interactive” cocktails — and don't forget mocktails — there’s a drink for everyone in KC.

Whether you like your drinks fancy (made with local spirits, fresh herbs and juices and more) or something more simple (usually involving just one type of liquor), KCUR's Food Critics searched out the best cocktails in and around Kansas City in our annual look at libations.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

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Many Kansas Citians are familiar with hummus by now. Available at Costco and other area grocery stores, this chickpea puree has become as ubiquitous as guacamole.

But what are some other Middle Eastern dishes that are on local menus?

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

After 30 years in its Country Club Plaza location, Houston’s restaurant will be closing its doors for good Tuesday. The closure comes unexpectedly for many, as the restaurant made the announcement Thursday – leaving Kansas City with only days to have one last meal or drink there. 

Houston’s is closing due to issues with the lease, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page.

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A visit to Nazareth Sweets, which is in a part of Lenexa that's becoming a "Middle Eastern strip," and a culinary instructor talks about a beloved Syrian dish that she grew up eating.

Then, the Food Critics search out the best Middle Eastern food in and around KC.

Guests:

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When it’s cold out, a big, hearty bowl of pasta really hits the spot.

Whether it’s a creamy mac and cheese or something a little more sophisticated (squid-ink noodles, anyone?), KCUR’s Food Critics search out the best pasta dishes in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

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A visit to a local olive oil shop, then KCUR's Food Critics search out the best pasta dishes in and around KC.

Plus, the latest news from KC's restaurant scene.

Guests:

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:

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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:

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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:

Photo illustration by BigStock Images

Ask food critic Charles Ferruzza what restaurants in Kansas City might look like in 30 years, and he envisions places where “farm-to-table” has gone to the extreme.

“Can you see the day people will come in with their very own sorghum from their backyard and ask you to cook it?” Ferruzza asked chef Ted Habiger on a recent episode of Central Standard

Kenny Louie / Flickr -- CC

Nothing says “It’s fall!” like a delicious dessert to accompany a warm cup of cocoa. From fried apple pies to good ol' carrot cake, we’ve got the treats that will make your season sweet.

On Central Standard’s food show this week, KCUR's Food Critics searched out the best desserts in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

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:

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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:

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:

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:

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:

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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.

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:

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:

From high-end restaurants to drive-through eateries, fried chicken is a staple on local menus. And some places are putting a spin on that nostalgic comfort dish.

In this encore presentation of Central Standard, we invite the chef from Blvd Tavern to talk about his Korean fried chicken, then the Food Critics uncover the best fried chicken dishes in and around KC.

Guests:

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