This is life at 2700 Jarboe, where Welsch's tiny lunch spot is tucked between houses and aging manufacturing buildings. Rainbow umbrellas and patio furniture reclaimed from his own home sit outside the restaurant, a short walk from the new Roasterie plant.
"I always wanted to have a little hole in the wall that has great food," he says. "The people are different. People come to a hole in the wall for the experience, not for the fine china. I never wanted to be on the Plaza taking on the giants."
He gave Fat City a peek inside his kitchen (Parts 1 and 2 of the interview ran earlier this week), but his latest creations are on display every day in the small retail gift shop. Folks in Kansas City have an advantage on the rest of the country — they get to try salsas, dips and rubs before they come to market.
"People keep asking for something two months later, and I get frustrated because I know we don't have it," Shirazi says. "But then I get excited because it means that product has legs."
Yesterday, Shirazi talked about how he relishes the challenge of his job, unless it involves the world's hottest pepper. Tomorrow, he'll explain how you can try the latest products he's whipping up in his test kitchen through Original Juan's retail store.
Chef Ali Shirazi runs the test kitchen for Original Juan, the specialty-foods manufacturer at 111 Southwest Boulevard, where he has developed thousands of products over the past three years.
"I always say, 'Yes, I can do that.' It just sometimes takes a few tries," Shirazi says.
In his defense, it's not that easy to make harvest apple barbecue sauce, salsa that rings in at over 1 million Scoville Units (the scale to determine whether something will incinerate your tongue), and hot sauce from pumpkin seeds.
"Kansas City is just a great town. It's been interesting to be here 30 years. The other night, I was coming home from a meeting and I saw the downtown skyline. It's changed so much since I lived here. It's nice that we're really getting more recognition for our food," Cavalcante says.
On Wednesday, she talked about her dream of becoming a sportscaster and what led her to the bistro space in Prairie Village. Tomorrow, she'll share the story behind the "Paris plates." Today, she's diving into all of the things she loves and hates in the kitchen.
“I’m unashamed to say that we are known as a ladies-that-lunch place. They’re the ones who have kept me in business all these years,” Cavalcante says, drinking a glass of water after the lunch shift in lieu of the standard post-game Gatorade.
What are your culinary inspirations? Right now, I’m really into Mardi Gras fare. I love looking online and in magazines. I’ve also got a great staff that are fun to work with. I can’t do it all myself, and they’ve all got special skills that come together in the kitchen.
“I’m used to people looking at me when they need something, but then the staff would tell me, ‘No, Sheri, they’re looking at you because you were on television.’ I’m used to working hard. I’m not used to just getting noticed,” Parr says.
The gawkers came in the months after Parr and her 13-year-old restaurant appeared on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, to see the rock bar and scratch kitchen that kicks out dishes like the Oklahoma Dog: a Boulevard-beer-battered, deep-fried hot dog wrapped in bacon. They’ve stayed because the Brick isn’t about gimmicks. It’s a soulful representation of a woman, who will be the first to tell you that she’s not a chef; she just happens to have been around great food all her life.
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