Restaurateurs are experts at the details you’re going to try to nail for Thanksgiving next week, but their establishments aren’t where most of us will want to spend the holiday. So today some of our best local chefs — the tastemakers in what has become one of the country’s most interesting cities to eat — share their expertise.
By STACY DOWNS
The Kansas City Star
You’ll come away from House + Home’s and Food’s special Thanksgiving sections not only with delicious new recipes but also with tips to make your feast a memorable celebration.
Chefs have evolved into a powerful cultural force that inspires loyalty. We root for our favorites when they compete on television and for the coveted James Beard award.
I’m a grateful Kansas City fan, proud that we’re home to a winning team of star chefs, acclaimed restaurants and international experts. I’m happy to introduce House + Home Thanksgiving’s starting lineup:
Celina Tio, James Beard award winner and competitor on “Top Chef Masters” and “The Next Iron Chef,” shares Thanksgiving prep secrets. Intriguingly, one of them involves a metal pipe from the hardware store for your turkey.
Michael Smith, another James Beard award winner, gets the Thanksgiving party started with tapas. The skewers of butternut squash, Manchego cheese and pepperoncini are especially tasty.
At his restaurant Extra Virgin, Smith is known for small plates, including duck-tongue tacos (that’s on the “adventurous” section of the menu, but you shouldn’t be afraid).
Colby and Megan Garrelts, the husband-and-wife chefs and owners of Bluestem, discuss serving food family-style — sort of like Stroud’s, yes? The Garrelts’ upcoming restaurant in Leawood, Rye, will go for casual service on platters. Colby Garrelts has been nominated five times for the James Beard award.
Renee Kelly owns the new farm-to-table restaurant Renee Kelly’s Harvest. The rising star talks Thanksgiving tools and is proud of the Midwest (witness her Dorothy ruby-red chef clogs).
Jenna Hammond is mixologist at Justus Drugstore, a restaurant in Smithville. The Thanksgiving signature cocktail she created, a gin toddy, introduced me to Velvet Falernum, a cane-sugar-based liqueur with lime juice, almond and clove essence, water and white rum. This cocktail’s aromatics alone make it worth mixing, but it tastes pretty good, too.
Doug Frost may be one of only three people in the world to hold both master sommelier and master of wine titles, but he takes an approachable view of wine for Thanksgiving.
From these artistic tastemakers I learned plenty that I’m going use this Thanksgiving. It takes a village to feed a village. Chefs aren’t alone in preparing and serving meals. They employ staffs.
Think about the feast: About 10 different items for a dozen or more people? That can be too much for even an experienced cook to handle, not to mention the big grocery bill. Rely on family members and friends to help you if you’re hosting. Ask them to bring specific items: stuffing, bread, pie, wine, the signature cocktail.
The most important thing about Thanksgiving at home: share conversation like you would at a restaurant. Tell stories, laugh and discuss the food. You’ll be grateful you did.