Driving up to Webster House, which flanks the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, I was welcomed by an aura of lightheartedness for a change.
The red-brick Webster House has often presented a controlled impression. The iron fence, although stately, creates definite boundaries, and the gates have been closed tightly — until now. The gates were swung open wide last Wednesday, inviting people into the pristine property.
Just as welcoming as Webster House was, executive chef Brandon Winn promptly greeted me with a smile and, of course, a taste of local fare. He has created a new expectation for the property with the Webster House Wednesday Farmers Market.
Regular guests constantly popped in after happy hour and before dinner. Curiosity with a dash of confusion were etched in their faces, but they were put at ease by the accommodating Winn. I’m positive that offering a taste of strawberry mint champagne helped ease them into the new normal of Webster House.
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The patio, which has been underutilized for years, is beautifully dotted with lush green grass, offering opportunities for frivolity and laughter. On Wednesdays it featured some of the finest farmers in the Kansas City area. Each has been carefully approved by Winn himself.
Winn’s background at Room 39 obviously shows his passion for the local-food evolution. Once the Bad Seed market closed, Winn thought that part of downtown needed a boutique-style market featuring some of his favorite growers. He uses the wares of many of them at Webster House.
There is no competition between the growers. Each is allowed to bring their best without worry, including organic produce, pasture-raised pork, grass-fed beef, salsa made with home-grown ingredients, cheesecake in a jar and coconut milk creamery products.
Every week an artisan/grower will be featured to keep this one-of-a-kind market interesting. This is similar to the boutique inside Webster House. Its artists all have signature items.
So the Bad Seed market is closed, but Winn has done something about it — and it may turn out to be even better. You can sip a cocktail, grab dinner, buy groceries and even purchase a piece of jewelry all in the same place. Check it out. Be one of those curious guests who receives a smile from Chef Winn.
Chef Renee Kelly is the owner of Renee Kelly’s Harvest in Johnson County. Her passion lies in changing the food system one plate at a time. Her inspiration is Mother Nature and the many growers in the Kansas City area.
Webster House, 1644 Wyandotte St., Kansas City
Find it on Facebook.
The farmers market is open from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through the middle of September
They have been approved by Websters House executive chef Brandon Winn. You can find these growers on the Kansas City Food Circle.
▪ 2L Farms: grass-fed beef, artisanal jams and jellies
▪ New Roots for Refugees: organic produce
▪ Peaceful Hills Farm: pork, eggs