Food And Drink

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Fall is upon us. And fall marks the arrival of the heralded, beloved pumpkin spice latte.


The pumpkin spice latte was born in 2003, when it made its first public debut in a Starbucks in D.C. It sure has grown up a lot since then. The Real PSL now has it’s own Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, where you can actually chat with it. 

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.


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 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.

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.


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.


An interview with the outgoing managing editor of The Pitch, who's leaving town to write about the craft beer industry at Brewbound. We hear his take on KC's beer scene, which he covered for The Pitch, plus his assessment of the state of journalism here.


  • Justin Kendall
Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Out in Kansas City, Kansas, just off I-70, across from an automotive plant, there's a little blue shack. Above the nondescript, but distinctive building, a sign reads "Jarocho Mariscos y Algo Mas."

Yes, on Kansas Avenue, in the landlocked heart of the United States, you’ll find the smells and tastes of the Gulf of Mexico. And soon, you'll find the same out in South Kansas City.

When Jarocho owner Carlos Falcon first moved to Kansas City 20 years ago, he was surprised to find very few seafood options.

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.


Meat and poultry labels can be crammed with claims about how animals are raised. Many are not backed by formal USDA definitions.
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

When shoppers browse meat at the grocery store they are confronted with all kinds of brands and labels, making it hard to tell whether the meat they buy comes from animals that were raised humanely. Organic producers want to answer that question more clearly, but conventional farmers are charging that proposed changes to organic standards would amount to unfair government backing of the organic industry.

A bucket of freshly harvested hops sits at Midwest Hop Producers, ready for processing in Plattsmouth, Nebraska.
Ariana Brocious / for Harvest Public Media

With craft beer booming and local breweries springing up all over the country, Midwest farmers are testing out ways to play a role in the growing market and, in the process, make local beer truly local.

Nearly all U.S. hops, which along with water, malt and yeast, comprise the base ingredients in beer, is grown in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Farmers and researchers in the Midwest, though, say the region could be ripe for a local hops explosion.

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.


Alissa Walker / Flickr -- CC

Before LaCroix Sparkling Water became a trendy drink, it was a favorite of Midwestern moms, according to reporter Libby Nelson in a recent article.

How did the drink that Nelson remembers from her KC childhood as "the pastel cases of tasteless soda that my Girl Scout leader packed into her minivan" go from a Midwestern staple to a status symbol?


Pixabay / CC

Much in this life is about getting it and keeping it together.

Well, I’m no anarchist – contrary to what a biased babysitter or two may have reported back in the day. But it’s clear to me that if you don’t let it go every once in a while, you might blow. And who wants to spend the weekend cleaning up that mess?

Thank goodness for timely opportunities to be at least a little carefree. You know, just a smidge. Aw, c’mon, the babysitter’s not even looking.

1. Rhythm ’N Balloons Festival

Making a contest-worthy cocktail takes more effort than just pouring a mixer over the right spirit. You've got to get the correct flavor, balance, presentation, even the appropriate kind of ice! Just the thought of all that work makes one mighty thirsty...


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.


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.

“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.


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:

Food and Drug Administration

Tippin’s Gourmet Pies LLC has voluntarily recalled several lots of its key lime pies because they may contain flour with peanut residue, the Food and Drug Administration said.

Tippin’s said it conducted the recall of the popular product after its supplier, the Kellogg Company, recalled graham cracker crumbs used in the pies’ crusts because they may contain peanut residue.

No illnesses or allergic reactions to the pies have been reported, but Tippin’s said it was taking the action “out of an abundance of caution.”

Paul Andrews/

Chuck Magerl grew up surrounded by family history.

During Prohibition, his grandfather was sent to Leavenworth Penitentiary for distributing alcohol.

One great-great grandfather was the sheriff of Jackson County, Missouri --  in 1869, the governor of Missouri sent a letter, authorizing him to capture Frank and Jesse James, dead or alive.

Another ancestor ran a saloon in Kansas City; a ledger book shows he paid $7 per barrel of beer in 1909.

He was a pioneer in the local craft beer and artisanal food movement before those were really a thing. Meet Chuck Magerl, the man who worked to change the liquor laws in Kansas to open the Free State Brewing Company — the first legal brewery in the state after Prohibition.