Earlier this year, Andrea Broomfield had to put an idea for a new book - about the dining service on British cruise ships - on the back burner, as it were, to take up a fresh topic: the food history of Kansas City, Missouri.
For Broomfield, professor of English at Johnson County Community College, it meant shifting her historical focus from the Victorian era in Great Britain (she is the author of the 2007 book, Food & Cooking in Victorian England: A History) to the more raucous life along the Missouri River in the mid-19th century, when early residents of the town of Kansas were helping western pioneers load up their wagons with provisions for the trek along the Santa Fe Trail or any of the other routes headed west.
Deb Dickinson, the manager of volunteers for Shepherd Center Central, has one of the most difficult jobs in the city.
"There are days I have to say 'no' all day. And when you have to say that to people who need Meals on Wheels, it's extremely disheartening," says Dickinson.
The Westport-based Shepherd Center Central merged, earlier this year, with Westport Cooperative Services, but both organizations still provide Meals on Wheels to their own client base: Shepherd Center Central delivers between 45 to 50 meals daily, and Westport Cooperative Services delivers between 25 and 30 meals each day.
"It's sad," says Dickinson. "We have so many people on the waiting list right now."
It takes money to provide the Meals on Wheels services and this Saturday, ten Westport restaurants are asking patrons to literally step up to the plate. The "Westend Stampede" will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 19. Ten Westport restaurants - Bluestem, Pot Pie, Boozefish Wine Bar, The Point, Filling Station, Mike Kelly's Westside, Cupini's, Twin City Tavern, Recordbar, and the Westport Flea Market - will offer tasting plates and samplings of Boulevard Beer to patrons who purchase a $20 ticket.
St. Louis-born Vincent Price (1911-93) is probably best-known for his long career as a performer: onstage (Victoria Regina, Diversions and Delights), in films (House of Wax, House on Haunted Hill) and Michael Jackson's Thriller video. But the actor was also a noted art collector and a gourmet cook, even authoring two cookbooks, Come Into the Kitchen Cook Book and A Treasury of Great Recipes.
Ray "Pete" Peterman, the chef-owner of Peanches Food & Wine at 900 West 39th Street, is using Price's 1965 A Treasury of Great Recipes cookbook as the inspiration for a $50 five-course dinner (with wine pairings) that he's calling "Peanchenstein" on Friday, October 25. Customers who dress up in costume for the event receive a free bottle of champagne for the table.
Peterman says the dinner is almost completely booked, but he's still taking reservations, but only on the restaurant's Facebook page.
Go ahead, rattle off the movies that have inspired chefs to create special dinners. Babette's Feast. Like Water for Chocolate. Big Night.
The film adaptation of the 1991 Bret Easton Ellis book about a sophisticated young serial killer was released in 2000. None of the reviews - which were mixed - mentioned the food or the references to popular New York restaurants of the 1980s (Nell's, Texarkana), but two young local chefs - Jimmy Daily from the Bulldog and Stephanie Springer from Millie's Cafe in Kansas City, Kansas - picked up on the culinary bits right away.
It takes a lot of dough - for gowns, jewelry, wigs and shoes - to compete in the 2014 Miss Gay America Pageant (held in St. Louis October 9-14), and the reigning 2013 Miss Gay Missouri America, Christa Collins, can't waltz out onto the stage in the Millennium Hotel Grand Ballroom in just rags, you know.
Collins, better known to most Kansas Citians as Christopher Barksdale-Burns, retired member of the Kansas City Ballet Company - he danced with the company for 21 years - has been raising funds for the pageant for the past year, including a Sunday pancake-brunch benefit at Californos, 4124 Pennsylvania, two weeks ago. It raised $500.
Californos hosts a second fundraising event tonight at 7 p.m., a one-hour cocktail party (a show follows at 8:30 p.m. on the lower level) with complimentary light appetizers and champagne cocktails. Donations will be accepted in the main bar, and the goal is to raise $500, says Aaron Barksdale-Burns, Christopher's spouse and sales director at Californos.
No, Howard Hanna, the executive chef at the Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange, was not required to read the 1968 novel, True Grit, by Charles Portis when he was in high school. He did see the 1969 movie adaptation of the Portis book starring John Wayne and still plans to watch the 2010 version by the Coen brothers.
More recently, Hanna has read True Grit from cover to cover, taking plenty of notes - not for a class, but for a collaboration with the Kansas City Public Library for this year's "Big Read" project, which kicks off on October 1 as a citywide celebration of the book, including an array of free public events, programs, book discussions, and a special exhibit at the Central Library.
Hanna's contribution to the "Big Read" activities will be to create a three-course prix fixe menu - inspired by True Grit - using the same kind of ingredients that the characters used in the novel.
Once a year, the Beer Kitchen #1 saloon and restaurant at 435 Westport Road in Westport hosts a dinner that pairs vegetarian dishes with beers selected by the Beer Kitchen's resident cicerone, Randyl Danner. This year's event, to be held Monday, September 16, will be the creation of Tim Touhy, the chef at McCoy's Public House, and Chad Miller, chef at Beer Kitchen #1, and will feature fresh produce from the organization New Roots for Refugees, a joint effort of Cultivate Kansas City and Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas City. A small portion of the proceeds from the meal - which is priced at $50 per person and includes tax and gratuity - will be donated to the New Roots for Refugees program.
"I don't know exactly what's going to happen," Paradise owner Mario Fantasma says. "But I know everybody will eat well."
See how the sausage is made, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., when the butchers demonstrate breaking down a carcass and transforming it into links. After that, enjoy dishes from some of the region's most prominent chefs - Jonathan Justus, Michael Beard, Michael Foust, Howard Hanna, among them - who will be taking parts from a whole lamb and pig and turning them into something craveworthy between 12 and 3 p.m. A live band will be on hand for the final three hours, from 3 to 6 p.m., of the party.
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