Food Critics

Segment 1: The diner-style burger.

The news that Shake Shack is coming to Kansas City has sent people in a tizzy. We take a Shake Shack fan to Snack Shack in Downtown Overland Park. Then, a talk with Michael Corvino, a James Beard Award semifinalist, about the cheeseburger on his menu that's earning raves.

Katherine Lim / Flickr -- CC

Breakfast: is it the most important meal of the day or the most tasty meal of the day? Whatever your thoughts, the breakfast scene is changing in Kansas City, offering more interesting options.

"I think people are going out more for breakfast," said KCUR Food Critic Mary Bloch. "I think part of the reason it's changing is because coffee is such a big thing now. And you have to have something to eat with your coffee."

On Friday's Central Standard, Bloch, along with Food Critic Bonjwing Lee, searched out the best breakfast spots in and around Kansas City.

Marco Verch / Google Images -- CC

From Twinkies to smoothies: If you grew up in Kansas City, you may remember the Wonder Hostess Thrift Shop Bakery on Troost. We visit Ruby Jean's Juicery, which has opened in that spot. Then, hear about some of the other new restaurants opening on Troost.

Plus: the Food Critics search out the best breakfast dishes in and around Kansas City.

Guests:

public domain / Flickr -- Google Images

Chinese food in the United States has become as American as apple pie. Or crab Rangoon (which was probably invented here).

Since its earliest days in the U.S., when it arrived with immigrants who came for the Gold Rush, Chinese food has been maligned ... but ultimately embraced and changed into the quintessential Americanized version that's popular on menus all over the country.

public domain / Flickr -- Google Images

Hear the story behind Springfield-style cashew chicken: we talk to the chef whose father, inspired by the food of the Ozarks, invented the dish. Then, meet a local tea house owner who travels to China to select his tea leaves from a friend's farm.

Plus: our Food Critics search out the best Chinese food in and around Kansas City.

Guests:

Foodista / Google Images -- CC

It's definitely soup and stew season. And there are plenty of both on local menus.

Whether you're in the mood for a hearty bowl of burnt end chili or a brothy pho, you can find something lovely and warm to ward off the frigid temps.

Of course, don't forget the bread (or savory doughnut) for soppin' and dippin'.

On Friday's Central Standard, KCUR's Food Critics searched out the best soups and stews in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Ivette Degollado / Flickr -- CC

A chef tells us about the "secret" off-menu cornbread at his restaurant, and we visit a local Ethiopian/Caribbean place to find out more about its braised oxtail dish. Then, the Food Critics search out the best soups and stews in and around Kansas City.

Guests:

Daniel Chow / Flickr -- CC

It’s the time of year when you may need to feed a crowd — perhaps for holiday gatherings or for college bowl game-watching. And what better way than with pizza?

Jules / Flickr -- CC

What's not to like about cheese? First of all, it's probably the one food item for which "ooey-gooey" was invented. (And if not, let's just say it was).

Whether you like it melted in a sandwich or by itself with a glass of wine or beer, cheese is having quite a moment in KC.

Cheese + Beer

Dec 8, 2017
Kitchen Life of a Navy Wife / Flickr -- CC

Forget wine and cheese ... now there's beer and cheese. A local cheese expert tells us about the best beer and cheese pairings. Plus: a visit to a classic KC restaurant that brought back its fondue nights from the 1970s, then the Food Critics search out the best cheese dishes in and around town.

Guests:

ilaria / Flickr -- CC

Italian food. Those two words may bring up images of a pasta dish with red sauce, or perhaps a thick square of lasagna. Throw in a glass of wine, and you're set for a cold winter night.

Some local chefs are also putting a creative spin on the cuisine. From old-school favorites to some new takes, our food critics on KCUR’s Central Standard searched out the best Italian food in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

alanagkelly / Flickr -- CC

Hear the story behind a classic Kansas City restaurant, then visit a new cafe that's located inside an antique mall. Plus: our Food Critics search out the best Italian food in and around KC, from beloved old-school favorites to interesting new takes on the cuisine.

Guests:

Joy / Flickr -- CC

It’s a great time of year for pie.

Whether you’re celebrating the holidays with a traditional pumpkin pie, or warding off the chill with a hearty chicken pot pie, it’s amazing what can go under, over or between flaky, golden crusts.

On KCUR’s Central Standard, our Food Critics searched out the best pies — both sweet and savory — in and around Kansas City.

Here are their recommendations:

Mary Bloch, Around the Block:

Pumpkin + Pies

Oct 27, 2017
Ervins Strauhmanis / Flickr -- CC

Pumpkins are everywhere. They're being carved, painted and eaten by squirrels all over town. But what about cooking them? Two local chefs share their tips for savory pumpkin dishes.

Plus: a visit to Rye to learn more about pie crusts, then the Food Critics search out the best pies — both sweet and savory — in and around KC.

Guests:

Jun Seita / Flickr -- CC

Dining out can be a form of entertainment. We take a look at the trends that play into this experience, from communal tables to open kitchens and more.

Then, the Food Critics discuss the latest restaurant news in KC: openings, closing, new menus and chefs.

Guests:

Rob Bertholf / Flickr -- CC

It's one of the best times of the year to be outside. It's officially fall on the calendar, and after a hot September, it has finally cooled down.

In that spirit, KCUR’s Food Critics searched out the best outdoor dining spots on Friday's Central Standard. From a see-and-be-seen sidewalk café to something that's more secluded and romantic, they found a plethora of spots in and around KC to enjoy the outdoors with food and drink in hand.

Here are their recommendations:

Steve Bozak / Flickr -- CC

It's finally feeling like fall. To celebrate the start of crisp-weather season: a cocktail blogger shares her seasonal drink, The Early Fall Lowball, and we also talk to the 2017 winner of the World Champion Squirrel Cook Off. Then, a visit to a Bavarian-style biergarten, and the Food Critics search out the best outdoor dining spots in and around KC.

Guests:

m01229 / Flickr -- CC

When it comes to food, everyone has a guilty pleasure.

According to KCUR Food Critic Jenny Vergara, it may be something that’s full of fat and calories. Or it could be a retro throwback (like spinach artichoke dip) or a childhood favorite.

It could also be something that you like but everyone else thinks is gross (who else mixed Hawaiian Punch and milk? Anyone?). Or maybe it's that one dish from a chain restaurant that you crave.

surtr / Flickr -- CC

We’ve been eating out of bowls for thousands of years.

However, the idea of serving meals in bowls has become trendy in the United States. And it's not for people who don't like their food to touch.

“I think the bowl trend comes out of an idea of more healthy, mindful eating,” Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Bowl meals are also portable and convenient — and they’re also Instagrammable.

Quinn Dombrowski / Flickr -- CC

Filipino food in Kansas City, a visit to a local restaurant that specializes in poke bowls, then the Food Critics search out the best bowl dishes in and around KC.

Guests:

Francis Bourgouin / Flickr -- CC

What sets a truly great happy hour apart?

Well, delicious food and drinks, for one. There’s also the vibe of the place.

“The social aspect of this cannot be discounted, even in the discounted world of happy hour,” Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

Plus, she added, it’s just good way to get to familiarize yourself with a new cuisine or try a restaurant that might normally be out of your price range.

Sam-H-A / Flickr -- CC

A visit to a trendy restaurant that makes "church basement coffee;" and a local bar owner shows us how to make frozen drinks without a blender. Then, the Food Critics search out the best happy hour specials in and around KC.

Guests:

Isabelle Hurbain-Palatin / Flickr -- CC

There once was a time when "sausage" meant links or patties served with pancakes.

Not anymore, especially in Kansas City. We’ve seen a lot more sausage variety over the past few years.

“I think it’s part of the butchery trend,” Jenny Vergara told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard. “We have more and more chefs who are opening great butcher shops. With this return to artisan do-it-yourself butchery, sausage is a really incredible way to use up all the pieces and parts.”

Timothy Vollmer / Flickr -- CC

A local chef tells us about the white barbecue sauce that he'll be serving at his new restaurant; a New York food writer discovered that Kansas City has the best cinnamon rolls; then the Food Critics search out the best sausages in and around town.

Guests:

Pauline Mak / Flickr -- CC

What’s the mark of a good bakery?

“You can taste when butter is used,” Food Critic Carlton Logan told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard. “You can tell when real ingredients are used. It has a very different taste compared to something you get in a supermarket.”

Logan, along with critics Charles Ferruzza and Jenny Vergara, searched out the best bakeries — and best baked goods — in and around Kansas City this year.

Here are their recommendations:

Lexi Churchill / KCUR 89.3

From hearty loaves of bread to sweets from around the world, local bakeries are doing interesting things.

We talk to a local bakery customer about his weekly order for a loaf of challah — and about the tradition and ritual around buying bread. We also visit a bakery that makes treats from around the Americas, then the Food Critics search out the best baked goods in and around Kansas City.

Guests:

Lara604 / Flickr -- CC

In this encore presentation: 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:

Stacy Spensley / Flickr -- CC

Once, our idea of healthy eating revolved around the salad bowl.

But we’ve discovered that some salads can be deceptively unhealthy … and that there are other satisfying options on local menus.

On Friday’s Central Standard, KCUR's Food Critics explored what “healthy eating” really means.

“I believe there are so many personal definitions of what ‘healthy’ is,” Lisa Murphy told host Gina Kaufmann. “Every individual has to make their own choice and have their own personal philosophy.”

Pseph / Flickr -- CC

What exactly is healthy food? Definitions can vary. On this show: a visit to T. Loft, then a local scientist says that salt has gotten a bad rap for years; many of us should eat more salt, not less.

We also look into the healthy restaurant trend, and our Food Critics and a dietitian search out the best healthy dishes in and around KC.

Guests:

Ralph Daily / Flickr -- CC

Summer grilling season is upon us. Over this Memorial Day weekend, we’ll be firing up the backyard grill, cold beverage in hand.

But what exactly is grilling? KCUR’s Food Critics defined it on Friday’s Central Standard.

“It’s over hot fire or coals,” Carlton Logan told host Gina Kaufmann.

“Grilling is not barbeque,” added Charles Ferruzza. “The main difference is the speed. Grilling can be pretty fast. Barbeque is a slow-cooker thing.”

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