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‘Off the menu’: What did these KC chefs want to be when they were growing up?

Off the menu: Did these KC chefs think they would grow up to be chefs?

Several Kansas City area chefs answer whether they knew they always wanted to be a chef.
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Several Kansas City area chefs answer whether they knew they always wanted to be a chef.

In this installment of the “Off the Menu: Things You Don’t know About KC Chefs” series, they talk about their childhood career dreams.

Most of the chefs didn’t plan a career in a commercial kitchen but picked up cooking as a hobby — or, in one case, as a necessity.

The founder of Ruby Jean’s Juicery wanted to be a Kansas City Chiefs football player. Now he has some Chiefs players as customers for his healthy juices. Another chef was a voice major who just really enjoyed decorating cakes for friends, her “most favorite thing to do.”

As a 10-year-old, Kelly Conwell of Stock Hill steakhouse would make lasagna with her mother — nothing special she said, just pasta sauce out of a can, browning the beef and cooking the pasta.

Soon she was poring over cookbooks and making pastry creams, up to the time she had to pick a career. It was her mother who pointed out her love of cooking might be just be a calling.

A Kansas City, Kansas, chef, the youngest of seven, lost his dad when he was just 4 years old. So he got his start by making some of his mother’s homemade meals — octopus, grilled shrimp, grilled fish tacos — to sell on the streets in Veracruz, Mexico, to help make money for the family.

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Joyce Smith has covered restaurant and retail news for The Star since 1989 under the brand Cityscape. She appreciates news tips.


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