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Segment 1: Kansas City champagne bar executive receives entrepreneurial leadership fellowship.

Meet Caitlin Corcoran, a Kansas City food talent, who has recently been awarded a national fellowship to an entrepreneurial leadership program.

  • Caitlin Corcoran, managing partner, ÇaVa

Segment 2, beginning at 17:15: New York chef returns to midwestern roots.

Smallcakes

Kansas City will be the first to get a taste of a new concept from Smallcakes founder Jeff Martin: Southern Charm Gelato.

A trip to Italy less than two years ago inspired the idea, the founder of Overland Park-based franchising company Sweet Brands told the Kansas City Business Journal.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

OK, so we're not Hershey, Pennsylvania.

But Kansas City has a respectable history of candy-making. We all know about Russell Stover, but several other vintage candies are, or have been, made in the area, and there's no better time than Valentine's Day for making note of that legacy. 

Love them or hate them, these are confectionary standards that your great-grandparents might have bought (for a nickel).

Courtesy of Shang Tea

On the first floor of Crown Center in Kansas City sits Shang Tea, a tea shop where teabags are frowned upon and traditional dried leaves applauded.

Jill Wendholt Silva / KCUR 89.3

How does a chef know when an elm tree is well-done?

When he’s cooked it in a 200-degree oven long enough, the deeply grooved bark is cured — and there are no carpenter bees left.

At Jonathan Justus’ new restaurant Black Dirt, which opens on Friday at 5070 Main Street, diners can look up at an organic chandelier made from Missouri hackberry tree emanating from the stump of an old elm.

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:

Danielle Hogerty / KCUR 89.3

On a busy Sunday afternoon in Kansas City's East Bottoms, there are people lunching at picnic tables on a gravel lot outside of the Local Pig. Inside, just behind the deli counter, there’s a huge butcher’s block, where chefs and amateurs alike have gathered for a crash course.

“There's a pretty good mix of people in the class,” butcher Jimmy Spradlin says. “There's a young chef and then just some old rough and tumble redneck guy that's like, ‘I'm just here for the pork chops.’”

But today, they’re all here to make sausage.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Urban farming is the trend that keeps on trending. Technically, you can trace it all the way back to the victory gardens of WWI. But now that generations of Americans have left rural towns and family farms for the big city, it might seem surprising that their kids and grandkids are growing food again . . . in the city.

We check in with a few local urban farmers, from KCK to South KC.

Guests:

Farmer Wendy Johnson markets hogs, chickens, eggs and seasonal turkeys from her farm near Charles City, Iowa.
Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

On a cloudy summer day, Iowa farmer Wendy Johnson lifts the corner of a mobile chicken tractor, a lightweight plastic frame covered in wire mesh that has corralled her month-old meat chickens for a few days, and frees several dozen birds to peck the surrounding area at will. Soon, she’ll sell these chickens to customers at local markets in eastern Iowa.

The demand for beef, pork and chicken raised on smaller farms closer to home is growing. Now, some Midwest farmers, like Johnson, are exploring how to graze livestock to meet those demands while still earning a profit.

Lexi Churchill / KCUR 89.3

There’s a relatively well-known corridor of Southwest Boulevard on Kansas City’s Westside — it’s a strip of Latin American restaurants and shops. Sandwiched in between a beauty salon and a late night Mexican eatery is a small bakery: Panaderia de las Americas.

What is Midwestern cuisine? Church fare, like Jello salad, or comfort food like mac n' cheese? A local chef and a Food Network chef who brings Midwestern fare to the masses join us to explore what it is and how that's changed. 

Plus, upon Bill Gilbert's recently passing, we look back at his legacy and the Gilbert/Robinson restaurant empire, which gave us Houlihan's, The Bristol, Plaza III, Fred P. Ott's, Annie's Santa Fe and more.

Guests:

Sales of organic food reportedly climbed to record highs in 2016, an indication organics are edging toward the mainstream.

 

A study that received funding from the Leopold Center demonstrated that planting small grains, such as the oats pictured here in 2016, can reduce the need for chemical inputs.
Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

A leading research center focused on local farmers and environmental conservation is hanging on by a thread, even as the movement to diversify agriculture, which it helped launch, continues to thrive.

*There were technical glitches that impacted the recording of this show.

Last month, Cody Hogan was promoted to general manager of Lidia's Kansas City, the restaurant he helped her open back in 1998. We learn about his journey from cattle ranch kid to classical pianist to chef.

Plus, why one woman from Prairie Village, Kansas decided to turn her New York City home into a museum of Kansas furniture and history.

Guests:

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

First there was the craft beer craze and then craft distilling. Now soda pop is the latest beverage to get a craft makeover. The growth of craft soda comes despite corporate pop companies Coca-Cola and PepsiCo seeing U.S. soda consumption hit a 30-year low.

Bonjwing Lee

Brunch: part-breakfast, part-lunch ... and all-delicious. KCUR's Food Critics search out the best brunch dishes in and around KC.

Plus, a dim sum outing, and a lesson in making fresh pawpaw fruit jam.

Guests:

Jefferson County farmer Phil Holman-Hebert raises hens and sells their eggs for a premium at farmers markets and restaurants.
Bryan Thompson / KCUR 89.3

Low crop prices have many Midwest wheat and corn farmers looking for ways to supplement their incomes. One possibility for conventional farmers: producing food for farmers markets.

Fort Osage CTC

First, we explore how vocational and technical education programs can help bridge the gap between job-seekers and middle-skilled jobs. Then, architect John Ruble explains the challenges urban planners face when designing everything from city buildings to U.S. embassies. Finally, running a successful food truck is about more than serving sliders from a van. We hear about the construction and operation of Kansas City's full-service kitchens-on-wheels.

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.

Sweet potato consumption in the U.S. nearly doubled over 15  years, from about 4 pounds per person in 2000.
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

Sweet potatoes are undergoing a modern renaissance in this country.

While they have always made special appearances on many American tables around the holidays, year-round demand for the root vegetables has grown. In 2015, farmers produced more sweet potatoes than in any year since World War II.

War Effort

“A lot of things were hard to get during World War II and potatoes were easier to raise than some of the other vegetables,” my grandmother Joyce Heise tells me.

scott1346 / Flickr -- CC

Is the family farm changing? As the farming industry's wealth is consolidated into the hands of just a few multinational companies, three family farmers discuss the challenges they face and how they're adapting.

Guests:

Many hydroponic operations want to certify as organic to take advantage of the growing organics market.
(File: Pat Blank / for Harvest Public Media)

There is a battle going on in the organic industry over hydroponics, the technique of growing plants without soil. The debate gets at the very heart of what it means to be “organic” and may change the organic food available to grocery store shoppers.

To be labeled as organic, fruits and vegetables are required to be grown without genetic modification or synthetic chemicals, and to meet other rules set out by the Agriculture Department. But what about produce that isn’t grown in the dirt?  

Wine And Food Fit For A Holiday Party

Dec 9, 2016
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

The holiday season is here! That means tasty treats, good wine and great conversations. From pairings like a Trento sparkling wine with shrimp ceviche, Master of Wine Doug Frost and Room 39 owner, Chef Ted Habiger join us to share their expertise for hosting a party you won't soon forget. 

The wines and beer tasted during the program:

  • Giulio Ferrari - Fratelli Lunelli (Extra Brut)
  • Brian Carter Cellars - Oriana 2014
  • Elk Cove Vineyards - Pinot Noir 2014
  • Emperial Brewery - Kölsch

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 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:

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

Kansas City has made quite a name for itself as a foodie town. We're internationally known for our barbecue, and our chefs are getting nominated for James Beard awards.

But it wasn't always this way. We used to call ourselves a cowtown, back when steakhouses were our specialty, and only vacations held the promise of 'adventurous' food. So how did we did make it onto the map as an emerging food town, up on, even ahead of, the latest trends?

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:

Jessica Spengler / Flickr

The food of Kansas City has a life story to tell. Author Andrea Broomfield tells it. The origins of Kansas City chili, tamales and tailgating, an affinity for dining al fresco and cinnamon rolls, and what local beer has to do with our sports teams and stadiums. Every food tradition can be explained through the lens of history.

Guest:

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