Kansas City Restaurant Week serves as a sampler for curious diners to satisfy their taste buds with an array of delightful dishes — and chefs from more than 200 local eateries showing off their culinary creativity and most visual see-food specialties, said Andrew Fontes.
“It’s a great opportunity to go outside your comfort zone and experience something different,” said Fontes, the head chef at The Stilwell located inside Loews Kansas City Hotel, as he served orange brown butter glazed salmon at the Kansas City Restaurant Week preview event this week at J. Rieger & Co. in the East Bottoms. “I am highlighting one or two staples that I am particularly proud of, but I have also never played with so many flavors before.”
The 14th annual Kansas City Restaurant Week begins Friday and runs through Sunday, Jan. 22. Each participating business offers a curated lunch and dinner menu, ranging from $20 to $55, with multiple courses.
Click here to check out the full list of restaurants and their menus during KC Restaurant Week.
Participating restaurants also pledge to donate 10 percent of sales from every meal to benefit an annual charity partner and the two founding beneficiaries, the Visit KC Foundation and Greater KC Restaurant Association.
The 2023 charity partner is Cornerstones of Care, a nonprofit dedicated to helping those in need by providing in-home and in-community services throughout the Kansas City region. In 2022, Cornerstones of Care served more than 10,000 children and families.
Cornerstones of Care was honored to be chosen, said Merideth Rose, president and CEO of the organization, noting that the Build Trybe culinary program will benefit from the proceeds. Build Trybe provides vocational training in culinary, building trades and horticulture and landscaping programs to youth in foster care, she added.
“It’s an opportunity to tell the story of Build Trybe, especially the importance of pouring into our youth,” Rose said. “That particular age group that we talk about — 16 to 23, especially if they’re in foster care — that age group is getting ready to really kind of ‘graduate,’ if you will, and start that interdependent life in their neighborhoods and community.
“… So many come to us without stable support systems, so the benefits of having the proceeds from Kansas City Restaurant Week come to support the youth means more opportunity,” she continued. “It means more partnerships. It means more youth that we can serve and more youth that we’re graduating that can be self-sustaining and sufficient with new employable life skills.”
Returning for its second Restaurant Week experience is Bamboo Penny’s. Located in Leawood, Kansas, Bamboo Penny’s aims to bring traditional tropical flavors to the Midwest, said Dom Hangtrakool, a staff member at the Thai restaurant.
“We have a traditional Thai dessert, Khanom Chan, that will be served only during restaurant week,” Hangtrakool said, noting that setting the nine layers of tapioca flour, rice flour, sugar and coconut milk is a time-consuming process.
Just as Restaurant Week is a special occasion, Khanom Chan is typically served during such Thai celebrations such as a wedding or housewarming, he noted. To gift someone with the dessert is seen as a blessing.
“We enjoy bringing people together to try different Thai food,” Hangtrakool said. “Chef Penny [owner of Bamboo Penny’s] dreamed of sharing Thai food in a beautiful and different way. We have the pad thai and curry that most people know, but we [also] have something different every time they come. We always want them to try something new.”
Click here to read more about Chef Penny Mukufa’s vision for Bamboo Penny’s.
A visit to Mesob gives diners a chance to experience the flavors of both the Caribbean and Ethiopia. The restaurant is owned by Cherven Desauguste — who is from Haiti — and his wife, Mehret Tesfamariam, who is from Eritrea. Desauguste, also the head chef, noted that Restaurant Week is a good time to bring people together during a typically slow month for the food industry.
For his menu, he plans to offer a few Caribbean and Ethiopian staples plus a new grilled salmon dish with green bamboo rice and a vegetable medley, he said.
“It’s also a chance for a lot of people who have never tried certain restaurants like ours,” he added. “… By having a four-course meal, then they can really try something new on the menu, regardless if it’s from the Ethiopian side of the menu or the Caribbean side of the menu.”
KC Cajun traded the wheels of its mobile kitchen for a brick-and-mortar restaurant in 2022, so participating in Restaurant Week for the first time is a validating feeling, shared Esra England, the head chef and owner of KC Cajun.
“We’ve been working toward this for a while, so it’s one of those surreal feelings to finally be here,” England said. “I’m excited to really get our name out there and hopefully get a new side of customers to explore a new part of the city.”
England intentionally opened his restaurant on Kansas City’s East Side as a way to drive businesses and people to an area that has lacked in development, he noted.
Click here to read more about KC Cajun’s new brick-and-mortar restaurant on Kansas City’s East Side.
During Restaurant Week, England will debut his blacked salmon recipe, as well as continue to share authentic cajun food with the community.
“I can’t think of a better way for people to spend their time and money,” England shared. “Restaurants get more people in the door, customers get to try a bunch of new dishes at a discount, and a portion of the funds go to charity. It’s a win-win for everyone.”