I often find that the most interesting time spent with people I interview are the moments in which the conversation gets a little bit off track and people share something about themselves that I would never have otherwise known.
At least that was the reasoning I used to persuade my employers to let me drink beer with Kansas Citians on live broadcasts this year.
The pitch went something like: You know where conversations are often fun and unpredictable? Happy Hour. You know what often unites people with diverse perspectives and backgrounds? Beer.
That brings us to Beer Hour, a new weekly show hosted by yours truly on The Star’s Facebook page. The concept? Casual conversations with Kansas City’s most fascinating people, be they public figures or ordinary folks, over beer.
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And who else better to headline our first episode than Stretch, the chef and sculptor behind Grinders bars and restaurants?
He’s a familiar face around town and a quintessential Kansas City character. His sculptures have appeared throughout the metropolitan area and the world. He’s appeared on a variety of Food Network shows and calls food personality Guy Fieri a friend. And with his colorful stories and creative style, Stretch is anything but boring.
“I could get my food. I could get my booze. I could pick up girls. And make art all day long.” Stretch said about what drew him to the food industry during the early days of his career.
But do you know how Stretch got his nickname? How he first met and befriended Fieri? How getting caught huffing whipped cream canisters as a young boy in Philadelphia catapulted him on a path to becoming an artist and restaurateur in the Midwest? What makes this bombastic guy a little more sentimental?
“It was really where I grew up,” Stretch said of finding community at the Kansas City Art Institute. “I found the people that were growing at the same pace I was and (into) the same stuff I was interested in.”
Stretch and I spent an hour talking about everything from the new summer line-up at the Crossroads KC venue behind Grinders to what it’s really like appearing on Food Network shows.
It’s a fun episode that we hope to replicate each week with different Kansas Citians. Check out Beer Hour each week — usually on Thursdays, roughly between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. — on The Kansas City Star’s Facebook page.
You’ll have a seat at the table for conversations that are fun, casual, unstructured and hopefully a little bit surprising. That’s the beauty of happy hour, no?
Go here to see the entire episode.