Old Cowtown overflowing with food, drink

Old Cowtown Museum will be full of food and drink lovers this weekend. The venue at 1865 W. Museum Blvd. has two big food events scheduled.

Local restaurants will be competing for these beautiful burger trophies this weekend.

On Saturday, a new fundraiser called Battle of the Burger will fill the grounds.  The event, a fundraiser for KETCH, starts at 6 p.m. Saturday and will have six local restaurants serving samples of their burgers, trying to claim the title of best burger maker.

The participating restaurants all have good burgers, so competition should be fierce: Fizz Burgers & Bottles, Mooyah, The Anchor, Public at the Brickyard, the Hyatt’s Harvest Kitchen/Bar and Heroes Sports Bar & Grill.

In addition to sampling the burgers, attendees also get a beer, dessert, chips and access to  car show, wagon rides and live music by the band Turnback Creek. I’m a judge at the event, so I’ll see you there.

Tickets are $35, available at the door or by visiting ictburgerbattle.com or by calling 316-383-8889.

Just look at these folks, moseying with their wine.

Then, on Sunday, the fifth annual Wine Mosey will move in.  It’s scheduled for 4 to 8 p.m. and will feature hors d’oeuvres provided by the Double Tree by Hilton Airport and a barbecue dinner by Wichita Wagonmasters. It also will feature stagecoach rides, saloon girls, antique bowling and gunfights plus a live auction and music by the Diamond Wranglers. Admission is $40 a person at www.wichitatix.com or by calling 316-350-3323.

It’s Iron Chef time at the Old Town Farmers’ Market

Chef Paul Freimuth

This weekend is Labor Day weekend, meaning that it’s time for the annual Iron Chef Competition at the Old Town Farmers’ Market. The event, now in its 11th year, is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the market at First and Mosley.

The competition pits local chefs against each other, cooking live with a secret ingredient they learn about just as the competition begins.

This year’s contest has an interesting twist. Instead of chefs from several different restaurants competing, Harvest Kitchen/Bar’s executive chef Paul Freimuth will compete against his executive sous chef and two assistant sous chefs. The restaurant inside the Hyatt is known for its use of local ingredients. Freimuth was a competitor last year and worked his way deftly around the secret ingredient: long beans.

Celebrity judges Guy Bower and Joe Stumpe will choose a winner around 10 a.m. It’s free for spectators to watch the showdown.

The Old Town Farmers Market is open from 7 a.m. to noon.

Wichita “Restaurant Week” planned

Now this is a cool idea.

The  Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas is teaming up with Go Wichita and the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association to put on a “Restaurant Week” in Wichita. They’re planning it for June 21 to 30 and hope to get 25 local restaurants involved.

Restaurant Weeks are big deals in big cities, where many of the more expensive, trendy, hard-to-get-into restaurants agree to spend a week offering prix fixe meals to participants. A prix fixe (price fixed) meal is a set, multi-course meal that costs one price. About 30 big cities around the country, including Dallas, New York and Chicago, put on popular Restaurant Weeks. I attended a Restaurant Week dinner at a fancy place in Dallas years ago, and it was memorable. (Even though I can’t remember the name of the restaurant I visited. Ha.)

Restaurant Week won’t be quite the same animal in a smaller city like Wichita, but it could still be fun and offer Wichitans an excuse to try places they haven’t been to. Though organizers haven’t signed up any participants yet, they’ll ask restaurants on the list to donate 10 percent of each meal back to the Boys & Girls Club.

I already know who I’d put on a dream list. The new Siena Tuscan Steakhouse  that will open in the Ambassador Hotel in December has to join in. Harvest Kitchen/Bar inside the Hyatt should, too. I could see Luciano’s on this bill as well as some of Wichita’s ethnic restaurants such as Pho Hot Bistro and Taqueria El Paisa. Maybe this would be a good way for Lakeside Club and Candle Club to lure potential new members, too.

The organizers have promised to keep me updated as plans progress. I’ll keep you updated, too.

In the meantime, let me know which restaurants you think should participate in a Wichita restaurant week. Tell me in the comments section below.

Local chefs to throw down Saturday, Iron Chef style

The Hyatt's Paul Freimuth will defend his Iron Chef on Saturday morning at the Old Town Farmer's Market.

The 10th annual Iron Chef Competition at the Old Town Farmers Market is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the market at First and Mosley.

The competition pits local chefs against each other, cooking live with a “secret ingredient” they learn about just as the competition begins. The reigning champion, Paul Freimuth from the Hyatt’s Harvest Kitchen/Bar will be there defending his title. His competition will be Nathan Toubia from Bocconcini Italian Eatery, Ben George from Tallgrass Country Club, and — in a public appearance first — Rob Schauf from The Flying Stove. (The chef is notoriously shy and usually lets his brother and partner, Jeff, do the talking and appearing.)

The Flying Stove will serve in Old Town Square that day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. The Old Town Farmer’s Market is open from 7 a.m. to noon.

Weekend of eating: Loaf Off, Palette to Palate

Chef Don Lucero with his winning loaf, which he cooked in an angel food cake pan.

The amount of eating I did this weekend is shameful, but it was all in the name of charity. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself (and my scale) this morning.

It started Saturday with the Fourth Annual Loaf Off, a meatloaf competition that was a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation of Kansas. My co-judges and I sampled 15 different meatloaves prepared by both home cooks and restaurant chefs (Tallgrass Country Club’s Ben George and the Hyatt’s Paul Freimuth among them).

The competition was at The Anchor, 1109 E. Douglas, tasters crowded both sides of the bar so thoroughly, it was difficult to move around the bar. In the end, we could not resist the meatloaf prepared by Don Lucero, who’s the chef at Via Christi hospital on Harry and also happened to win last year’s competition. (Clearly, the man knows his meatloaf.)

My tray of samples. The winning loaf has the bright yellow mango on top, near the bottom left.

Lucero, whose recipe included ground chuck, veal and buffalo, Italian sausage AND bacon, also won the People’s Choice Award. Today, he told me that he’s stepping down as a competitor in next year’s competition (gotta give someone else a chance) and join the judges’ panel instead. He generously shared his recipe for this year’s loaf, which you can find at the bottom of this post.

After I’d digested all that loaf, I headed off Saturday evening to Palette to Palate, an art and wine auction at the Drury Plaza Broadview Hotel that’s a fundraiser for KETCH. The event is only in its second year but has grown exponentially and was one of the most fun parties I’ve attended in a while.

Bid! Bid! Bid! Bid!

The giant ballroom in the Broadview was positively packed with people, all sampling wine and appetizers prepared by restaurants such as Luca Italian Kitchen, Larkspur, Harvest Kitchen/Bar, Cero’s, Bocconcini, Newport Grill, Corporate Caterers and more. When they were all nice and fed and watered, attendees bid on art, lots of wine and other fabulous packages in a live auction. (A chance to tag along on a restaurant review with me was among the silent auction items, and I spent the evening hovering around the bid sheet, bullying people into bidding MORE MORE MORE MORE.)

Thankfully, my stomach gets a vacation until March 31, when I’ll be a judge at Death By Chocolate.

Here’s Chef Lucero’s meatloaf recipe, which could feed an army. My suggestion is you divide it by one fourth to make a batch at home.

Read More »

Lots of foodie fun at this weekend’s Women’s Fair

He's not a woman, but Chef Paul Freimuth knows how to cook food women like.

I like the Women’s Fair.

I’ve been going to it for years and I’m always amazed by the sheer amount of STUFF the organizers pack into Century II. There’s good shopping, live haircuts, as-seen-on-TV demos, tons of freebies (my favorite are the shampoo samples) and tons of food-related exhibitors. In past years, my friends Carrie and Joe have always done a live cooking demonstration, and the audience members nearly riot for a chance to sample the results.

Carrie and Joe can’t make it this year, but four other foodies are scheduled for demonstrations.

Chef Tanya Tandoc, owner of Tanya’s Soup Kitchen, will demonstrate how to make chicken curry and other famous soups at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Chef Joe Parten of Carrabba’s will be making chicken Marsala at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Local cookbook author Andrea Cassell will show how to make roasted red pepper and Tex-Mex hummus from her cookbook “Nahima’s Hands” Unique Mediterranean Cuisine” at 5 p.m. Saturday.

And at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Hyatt Chef Paul Freimuth, the man behind the fabulous Harvest Kitchen/Bar, will teach fair-goers how to make tortelloni with tomato basil sauce.

Also, cookbook author “Kitchen Kimberly” will demonstrate Southwest potato corn chowder and savor cheddar and chive bread at 3:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. She’ll also do a 4 p.m. Saturday demonstration of enchilada casserole with Southwest sour cream

I won’t be demonstrating any cooking, but I’ll be at the Wichita Eagle’s booth from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday and will be happy to discuss anything restaurant- or food- related with you.

See the full Women’s Fair schedule here.

Question of the week: Is “eating local” important to you?

My friend and colleague Annie Calovich recently wrote an interesting story about the “eat local” movement, which is making its way into Wichita.

I’ve spoken to several restaurateurs lately who are either dabbling in or committed to serving locally-produced food: Old Mill Tasty Shop, The Anchor, Lotus Leaf Cafe among them. Harvest Kitchen/Bar in the Hyatt has centered its entire approach around serving local food.

My question this week: How important is eating local to you? Which restaurants in Wichita do you patronize to do that?

Answer in the comments section below.

Cajun food, Cajun tunes at tonight’s Riverfest

Food fans enjoy last year's Cajun Food Fest.

Besides the greasy goodness of the food courts, the second most popular food attraction at the Wichita River Festival each year has to be the Cajun Food Fest.

The event, which will go on from 5 to 8:30 tonight near the Tripodal sculpture outside Century II, is now in its 26th year. Chefs will serve red beans and sausage as well as other Cajun favorites. Meals are $7 apeice with a festival button.

Cajun fans can stroll with their food over the WaterWalk Pavilion, where the Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco Band will perform jambalaya-friendly music from 6 to 8:45 p.m. Over at the Pavilion, which is on the lawn south of the Hyatt, the Harvest Kitchen/Bar will be serving shrimp po’ boys and muffuletta pasta salad.

A good time, as the Cajuns would say, is gar-awn-teed.

Exciting dining addition to Riverfest

Sometimes, the Wichita River Festival wears me out. (I’ve only been covering it for 13 years, ya know.)

But one thing I always love about the festival is the food (which I’ve been reviewing for 13 years, ya know.) I’ve come to love some of the annual offerings, and each year I can’t wait for my Tad’s Bodacious Burrito or tray full of deep fried dill pickle spears (with dipping sauce.)

This year, the festival is offering a new type of food court that could be very cool. The Waterwalk Pavilion will be set up nightly on the lawn near the Hyatt fountains. Under a huge tent, a local restaurant will sell food, and nearby, a local band will perform. Adult beverages will be served, and a new rule allows partakers to walk with their drinks in hand along the river.

The festival is trying to attract a young professional crowd with the new event, and if I count as a young professional, their efforts are probably going to work on me. Following is the schedule festival president Janet Wright sent me. They’re still trying to find a few restaurants to fill in on certain nights, but I plan to be there for sure on June 9 and June 11.

Saturday, June 4

6 – 9:30 p.m. – Grateful Not to Be Dead
6 – 8 p.m. – Carlos O’Kelley’s Mexican Café
Chicken Burrito Wrap with Beans, Chips & Salsa, $10
Chili Con Queso with Chips & Salsa, $10
Carlos Nachos Supreme, $7

Sunday, June 5

6 p.m. – Rachelle Coba Band
6 – 8 p.m. – BBQ from the world-famous Wichita Wagonmasters grill
BBQ Brisket Sandwich, Cole Slaw & Baked Beans, $8
BBQ Brisket Sandwich, Brat, Cole Slaw & Baked Beans, $10

Monday, June 6

7:30-8:45 pm – Flatland String Band
Restaurant TBA

Tuesday, June 7

7:30-8:45 pm – Walnut River String Band
6 – 8 p.m. – Truffles
Choice of meatball sub or chicken parmigiana sub, pasta salad, chips, cookies, $7
Choice of pasta Caesar salad, garlic bread, roasted potatoes with vegetables, brownies $10

Wednesday, June 8

7:15-8:45 pm – Swing Daddies
6 – 8 p.m. – Caffe Moderne
Chicken Veggie Wrap with salad, chips & cookie, $10
Southwest Veggie Wrap with salad, chips & cookie, $10

Thursday, June 9

6-8:45 pm – Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco Band
6 – 8 p.m. – Hyatt Harvest Kitchen & Bar
Choice of dirty or white rice, chicken and Andouille sausage
jambalaya, crawfish & pepperjack cornbread, $8

Friday, June 10

6-9:30 pm – Mumblin’ Jones
6 – 8 p.m. – Toni D’s
Beef & pulled pork sliders, $10
Vegetarian sliders, $10
Both served with potato chips, choice of potato salad or
Italian pasta salad & homemade cookie

Saturday, June 11
4:30-6:30 pm – Smugglin’ Yo-Yos
7:00-9:45 pm – Ten Day Wish
Restaurant TBA


Pepsi Products                     $3 or 2/$5.00

Budweiser                                          $4.00

Craft Beer                                          $4.00

Wine & Specialty Drinks            $5.00

Ready to loaf

Meatloaf can be sort of a polarizing food. I love it, but many people in my life just can’t deal with it. I’m not sure why. It’s sort of like a giant meatball, and what’s not to like about that?

Good thing I’m pro-meatloaf because on Saturday, I’ll be one of three judges at the Loaf Off, a meatloaf cooking competition now in its third year.

We’ll gather at The Anchor, 1109 E. Douglas, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and sample loafs assembled by both home cooks and local chefs. Among the chefs entering this year: Paul Freimuth, the new head chef at Harvest Kitchen/Bar in the Hyatt, Carrabba’s Joe Parten and local caterer Chris Collier.

The public is invited to sample the loafs and help choose a People’s Choice category. The Anchor will be providing meatloaf friendly side-items liked mashed potatoes and gravy. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 5 to 12.

My co-judges are Tanya Tandoc of the soon-to-open Tanya’s Soup Kitchen and local Food God Joe Stumpe. The event raises money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Kansas.

Come loaf off with us?