KC’s Emerging Pastry Chef Scene

Image via Facebook.com/StockHillKC

By Kathryn Greene

Kansas City’s dessert scene is undergoing a sweet (and savory) transformation. Restaurants across the metro—some for the first time in their history—are hiring pastry chefs, bringing a renewed dedication to dessert and the dining scene at large.

Here are some of the most notable pastry chefs in Kansas City:

Amy Shaw – The Rieger and Ça Va

In April 2017, Amy Shaw made history at the already-historic Rieger, becoming the restaurant’s first ever pastry chef. It marked her return to Kansas City after a stint in Boston, where she worked as Pastry Chef de Cuisine at Sofra Bakery & Cafe under James Beard nominee Maura Kilpatrick. It was at Sofra that she was introduced to the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavors that are hallmarks of her desserts, including tahini and the Turkish dessert staple, halva.

Years in Boston allowed her to both hone her craft and to appreciate how special KC is. “People in Kansas City have so much pride. When someone comes out with a new restaurant, people are excited to try it and can’t wait to support you and make sure you succeed.”

Image via Facebook.com/CaVaKC

Shaw also creates dessert menus for Ça Va, which are decidedly more Parisian. “I understand not every restaurant can afford a pastry chef, but it rounds out the culinary team and really lends itself to the guest experience.”

Elizabeth Paradise – Story

Image via Facebook.com/storykc

Elizabeth Paradise initially pursued architecture in college—even working in the field after graduation—but changed direction and moved to Chicago to attend The French Pastry School. Post-Chicago she took her talents to New York City, working on the opening team at Jean-Georges’ ABC Kitchen, where she served high-profile guests including Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart. After four years in New York, her native Kansas City called her home.

“One of the reasons I love my job at Story so much is that we have a lot of really great relationships with farmers,” she said. “If I want rhubarb or peaches for a dessert, I know exactly who I can call.”

Image via Facebook.com/storykc

While Paradise chose pastry over plaster, her approach to dessert—much like architecture—is creative and relies on technical objectives. “You want to impress people and give them something familiar but different, like ice cream made with a sweet corn base or a blackberry compote with thyme. There’s always something a little unexpected.”

Jessica Armstrong – Novel

Jessica Armstrong first began her culinary career as a savory cook before completing the pastry program at Johnson County Community College. Her travels have taken her as close as Austin, Texas, where she worked for pastry shop Cake and Spoon, and as far as France, where she lived in Moulins in the French countryside and sold baked goods in a local open-air market.

Ater returning to Kansas City, Armstrong began with the opening team at Rye before moving on to become the pastry chef at Bluestem. Her latest chapter is her most exciting yet: working alongside her husband, Ryan Brazeal, chef/owner at Novel.

Image via Facebook.com/NovelKC

“Dessert at Novel is special, comforting and absolutely delicious. Dessert should make you ecstatic,” she said. Armstrong finds inspiration everywhere, from what Novel’s farmers are growing at any given time to her own dreams. “I’m obsessed with flavors, what tastes good together and the perfect balance of sweet, tart and rich. I despise overly sweet desserts. You should feel refreshed, but dessert can also be meant to cleanse your palate.” 

Kelly Conwell – Stock Hill

Image via Facebook.com/StockHillKC

Even though Kelly Conwell attended Johnson County Community College’s culinary program, she never set her sights on the world of pastries. It wasn’t until Megan Garrelts of Bluestem who convinced Conwell to give it a shot—and clearly it’s paid off.

Conwell draws inspiration from her travels, conversations with the culinary team at Stock Hill and her own childhood. Prior to Stock Hill, she worked at Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar, where she developed one of the establishment’s most popular desserts, the s’mores tarte, which was inspired by making s’mores with her grandfather. In fact, the best compliment she can receive from both her colleagues and guests is the same—that one of her desserts brings them back to their own childhood.

Image via Facebook.com/StockHillKC

“Dessert is not an afterthought,” said Conwell. “For the first time in years, restaurants in Kansas City are hiring pastry chefs. The fact that I’m able to find jobs here doing what I love and people are acknowledging the dessert scene is fantastic.” 

Kelli O'Hara, Broadway star in concert

Kelli O’Hara is one of the biggest stars on Broadway, and her work in film, television, and opera have made her acclaim even greater. The Tony Award winner will bring her unique mix of classicism and show business to Kansas City for selections from Broadway and the Great American Songbook.

Hugh Jackman

Academy Award®-nominated, Golden Globe and Tony Award-winning performer, Hugh Jackman will bring The Man. The Music. The Show to Sprint Center on Oct. 13. You will see Jackman performing hit songs from The Greatest Showman, Les Misérables and more from Broadway and film, accompanied by a live orchestra.

Paul Childres Concert in the Caves

Blending Pop, R&B, and Soul, Paul Childers is leading a new breed of Singer/Songwriters and Guitarists. Paul finds a way to blur the lines cast between Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix styles of guitar playing, a Motown rhythm section, and Pop vocal melodies. He is returning to the caves for another epic show! 

B-Side mini 2019

We're celebrating our second annual music festival - in a teenier way!
Join us Oct. 4th First Friday for B-Side Mini!
Acts include our house band I Threw a Chair, Winny Wallet and the Workshop, and local musician Sean Groff.
Inside the gallery we will be showing many mini works, small doodles, sculptures and more.
Big thanks to Brewery Emperial for providing the event with beverages!

Merriam Drive Live!

Downtown Merriam will transform into a street and lawn party full of music on two stages, food trucks, adult beverages and a Cornhole Tournament. Performers include: Four Fried Chickens & a Coke; Red Guitar; Stolen Winnebagos; Fast Times and Noe Palma. Enjoy this annual music fest for FREE in downtown Merriam.

Brahms’ Fourth and Bach’s Fantasia

Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center
Jason Seber, David T. Beals III Associate Conductor
Paul Jacobs, organ
J.S. BACH/ELGAR Fantasia and Fugue in C Minor
MICHAEL DAUGHERTY Once Upon a Castle for Organ and Orchestra
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4

Finlandia and Schumann’s Piano Concerto

Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center
Michael Stern, conductor
Martin Helmchen, piano
SIBELIUS Finlandia
R. SCHUMANN Piano Concerto
DANIEL KELLOGG The Golden Spike (Kansas City Symphony commission, world premiere)
SMETANA “Blaník” from Má vlast

The Medical Arts Symphony of Kansas City Fall Concert

The Medical Arts Symphony of Kansas City includes physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, healthcare students, as well as other musicians from the Kansas City area.  This fall concert will include: The New World Symphony - Dvorak , Fanfare for the Common Man – Copeland, Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Cello, s Gion Overture - Jose Gonzalez Granero