From the category archives:


By Lindsay Creviston

Drive-in restaurants may arguably be one of the most enjoyable pastimes of the late 1940s and ‘50s.  In 1948, with World War II behind them, rock and roll increasing in popularity, and Truman winning what some call the biggest upset in presidential history, Orville and Elsie Bobo opened Bobo’s Drive-in at the intersection of Huntoon and Lincoln in Topeka.

It's curb service and real onion rings at 10th and MacVicar in Topeka

In 1953 their son, Bob Bobo, opened a second location at the corner of 10th and MacVicar.  This is one of the few original drive-ins still in operation in Kansas.

Unlike Sonic there are no distorted speakers to contend with; only cheerful carhops greeting guests with curb side service.  Two carhops serve 12 drive-in stalls and, during peak hours, also provide service to customers in the parking lot.

Customers are welcomed into the quaint dining area by counter-service, black and white checkered floors, large white hanging globe lights, and bright pink booths.  Spinning bar stools add to the nostalgic atmosphere.

Bobo’s has had its fair share of mishaps over the years.  Customers were forced to live without their double cheeseburgers and onion rings while the drive-in was restored to its original condition after a fire destroyed the kitchen in 2002.  This was not the last time that a renovation would be forced on this local treasure.

According to current owners, Richard and Tricia Marsh, one of the regulars accidently drove through the front door when he mistakenly thought his car was in reverse.  He is still given a hard time about his bad driving.

After two restorations the owners attribute their success to preserving the Bobo’s traditions and fighting the temptations to keep up with the latest trends.  They listen to their loyal customers and stay true to the authenticity with simple food and old-fashioned customer service.

The original recipes from Bob Bobo’s aunt and mother continue to be used for their famous double cheeseburgers, Spanish burgers, onion rings, and homemade apple pies.  Yes, homemade apple pie at a drive-in.  The cheeseburger patties are made from a special blend of ground steak and pressed thin to create a crust.

Tangy and sweet, the secret Spanish sauce is what keeps the Spanish burger in high demand.  “They taste sort of like a Sloppy Joe but not all ground up,” Guy Fieri of the Food Network said.

The drive-in uses 75 pounds of onions a day.  Breaded with flour and then with cracker meal, the onion rings are crispy, not greasy.    The apple pies made fresh daily can be purchased by the slice or as a whole pie and are served with either ice cream or satin freeze.  More than 50 pies are baked each day.

It’s not only the customers that enjoy Bobo’s but also its employees.  Some have been working at the joint for more than 25 years.

Verda Hamm began working at Bobo’s right out of high school and is now 81 years old.  Back then hamburgers cost 35 cents and a whole pie cost $2.

Betty Ramsey, originally from England, has been with the drive-in since 1975 and Joe Vida has been making the apple pie for over 25 years.  Another employee met her husband while working as a carhop and in 2009 they reserved Bobo’s to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

Bobo’s has continued to be successful in spite of all of the franchised burger joints in town due to its loyal customers.

“I can remember coming to Bobo’s with my folks since the late 1950s.  When I was in my early 20s I had all of my wisdom teeth pulled and the first solid food I craved was a Bobo’s cheeseburger.  I had to eat it with a fork, but it was the best!” Nancy Morrison Cree of Lecompton wrote in the guest book.

“The only thing wrong with Bobo’s is that there isn’t one on every corner,” another customer said.

This classic drive-in will continue to endear its customers with the simple pleasures of food fresh off the grill and memories of a time when life seemed less stressful and complicated.

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Dairyman Tim Iwig portrait by Tommy Theis

By Beth Troutt

Tim Iwig’s alarm goes off at 3:30 every morning. Hours before the sun rises, his feet hit the floor and he is off to the pasture to herd around 100 cattle up to the dairy farm. The aroma of straw and aged manure is under foot and in the air. Cows must be milked twice a day, every day. A typical cow produces about 100 glasses a milk a day. That totals around 500 gallons of milk each day for Iwig.

The dairy farm is a multi-generation family business located in Tecumseh. Iwig’s great-grandparents began the farm in 1910. His generation of milk production started in the ‘70s. “As a teenager, I milked my own 4-H cows.” Customers would come to his house to pick up the milk and leave money in the pan on the family refrigerator. “When I was a kid, I was never short on money,” the farmer remembers.

Driving down the dirt road, the retail store is the first thing visitors see. The store has an old-fashion look and feel. This is where customers can purchase milk, fresh pies, and homemade cookies.

Cows are the foundation of any milk production.

In the winter months, they are housed in large stalls and kept on concrete, creating a cleaner environment. These stalls allow the cows to eat, drink, or sleep whenever they please.  During warmer weather, cows are allowed to graze in meadows and rest under trees.

“Comfortable cows are happy, high producing cows,” Iwig says he believes. Mature milk-producing cows eat 50 pounds of food and drink 50 gallons of water every day. Without healthy cows, dairy farmers wouldn’t have a job.

Cows are creatures of habit and thrive off routine. Milking takes place at the same time every day. During milking time, the girls stand in silence, patiently waiting their turn.

The herd began with all Holstein cows. In the past few years, the herd has been crossbred with Jersey cows and Scandinavian Red Sires. This broadens the genetic base and increases longevity.

Iwig pasteurizes, bottles, and distributes its own milk. Their production only uses glass containers when bottling. When people return their bottles, the dairy farm is able to wash and reuse them. This kind of recycling is good for the environment and saves customers money.

The 1,200-pound bottle washer was set in place by a crane before the roof was on the building. Overpowering and drowning out all other sounds when operating, “it takes two people to operate and can clean up to 100 bottles per hour,” Iwig says.

Another reason why glass bottles are used is taste. According to Tim Iwig, “overtime, milk in plastic bottles takes on the taste of plastic. Chemicals in plastic diffuse into milk and change the taste.” Also, glass stays colder and allows the milk to stay fresh for a longer period of time. Customers must pay a $2 deposit for the first bottle. Most find the taste is well worth the small expense.

Tim Iwig also says milk from large plants may sit for days before being processed. This is not true at Iwig. On average, it takes only one day from when cows are milked to distribute the product to stores.

For Iwig, dairy farming is a passion and a way of giving back to his ancestors. In recent years, there has been a shift to larger dairy farm operations. These farms tend to focus on efficiency and getting the most from each cow. As farmers expand their herds, the pressure on small producers continues to increase. Iwig’s focus is quality.

Supporting local farms, like Iwig Dairy, keep people connected to the community. Local milk simply tastes better. At Iwig, you are able to shake the hand of the farmer whose milk you drink.

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By Jeanette Pryor

Old Downtown Overland Park, two quaint, store-lined streets, is becoming Kansas City’s Slow Food District, its Culinary Center and specialty shops are delectable evidence that the local branch of Slow Food International is convincing people to center their lives around the joy of home cooked meals; meals made from the resources of local farms and artisans, and shared with people who believe the table should be the heart of family and community.

Slow Food International – How the Threat of a Hamburger is Changing the World

Long before the executive chef of Kansas City’s most famous Italian restaurant brought the Slow Food Movement to the American Mid-West, the organization was an act of rebellion against the invasion of Rome by… hamburgers!  In 1986, a horrified Italian awoke to the iconoclastic news that the Golden Arches were going to become part of the Eternal City’s skyline.

Fearing the eventual effects of this viral infection of the heart of the gastronomic universe, knowing what would happen if Italian cuisine was replaced by the embodiment of modern food, an amalgamation of chemicals designed for profit, convenience, and expediency, Carlo Petrini founded Agriocola with several friends. His original intention was to unite and organize the efforts of those who held that human beings should preserve and promote the production of real food, food cultivated with care and in natural ways.  This respect for food is motivated by the place it should hold in civilizations, the central unifying locus of the deepest human bonds, family and community.

By the time the group renamed their reformation “Slow Food International,” it had honed its purpose, “Slow Food works to defend biodiversity in our food supply, spread taste education and connect producers of excellent foods with co-producers through events and initiatives.“

The 100,000 members of Slow Food International are organized into “convivia” from the Latin for “to live with.”  The “convivial” are local branches that strive to unite members of communities who share the core values espoused by Petrini and endeavor to communicate this way of life to others.  Celebrating and availing themselves of the local produce and artisanal food is the main focus of the local groups.

“I Wanted to Teach People to Make the Table the Center of Their Own Families”

In 1948, Jasper Mirabile Sr. and his wife, Josephine, opened a little restaurant on the outskirts of Kansas City.  While they were working at the family business, their youngest son, Jasper Jr., was at home with his Nona, his grandmother, begging to learn the secrets of her cooking.  Today, in 2010, the family restaurant, Jaspers, is high on Zagat’s list of America’s Top Ten Italian restaurants in the US, and Jasper Jr. is the executive chef.

“My father’s legacy, his dream and ours, is to have our customer’s feel like they are eating at our family table.  In our family, the meals bring us together and our lives literally center around the love of good food.  We talk recipes and where the best olive oil comes from and how the asparagus is this season.  I wanted to communicate this love of food and the importance of family meals to the people who eat in Jaspers,” Jasper Jr. explained when he learned of the Slow Food Movement, he recognized his own dreams echoed in Petrini’s mission.

“I started the Kansas City Slow Food chapter because it was a way to extend the philosophy of the restaurant to the whole community.  We have so many local farms and artisans, I thought that starting a local group would bring people together who could promote local products in our own communities, helping those who have a true passion for healthy, real food,” he said.

Judging from the extensive and varied membership list, Jasper’s outreach has been an enormous success.  The Slow Food table gathers these and dozens of other members, food enthusiasts who get together to enjoy cooking and sharing their creations.

  • Quality Meat Goats from Double O Ranch
  • Fervere Bread Company
  • Edible Schoolyard
  • Kansas Wines
  • Good Shepherd Farms
  • Louisburg Cider Mill
  • Shatto Milk Company
  • Travels With Taste
  • Johnny’s Selected Seeds

The members are deeply committed to employing natural or ecological techniques in the raising of animals or growing crops, whenever possible.

Law Books Or Cook Books?

While Jasper was using Slow Food to bring the Mirabile family’s love of “the shared table,” to the community, a young attorney was dreaming of trading her law books for her cook books, the courtroom for her kitchen.  Laura Laiben O’Rourke had grown up with a passion for cooking.  A brilliant student, she ended up in the less creative law library, the top of her classes, but feeling like something was missing.  Ten years ago, Laura took a giant leap and founded the Culinary Center of Kansas City.

“The center is a unique venue in the Midwest where “‘culinarians”’ of all skill levels can gather together to celebrate the culinary arts in a variety of ways.  Warm service, attention to detail and the commitment to go the extra step in everything we do are the hallmarks of our business philosophy,” she explained.

The center, located in downtown Overland Park, offers thematic cooking classes by local chefs.  Julia & Me, for example, offers the public the opportunity to learn and practice the basics of French cooking, in much the same way that the now-famous Julie Powell of movie fame, cooked her way from ignorance of the culinary arts to accomplished resident of the kitchen!  Under the Tuscan Sun is a two and a half hour class that introduces students to the joy of signature Italian cooking.

Expanding beyond its original “test kitchen,” the center now houses the Kitchenology shop that offers kitchen tools, aprons, fabulous cook-books and pots and pans designed to withstand a nuclear blast.  The center also boasts two spacious dining rooms in which the famous “Staff Lunches” are held.  Every Tuesday, the resident chefs of the center serve lunch for a modest fee.  The only rule is European seating; you have to sit by someone you don’t know!

Laiben O’Rourke’s dream was not to start a professional cooking school, but a place where anyone who wanted to learn to cook could come and “brush” up on basic skills.  The center now offers advanced classes and, in addition to the stand-alone evening thematic classes, offers class series.

It should be no surprise that Jasper Mirabile, the “human hub” of the food scene in Kansas City, should find his way to the center.  He brings his “Family Table” message, along with his mother, to the Center to teach classes every month.  Laura and her staff at the Center, are an important conduit for the Slow Food message, the enthusiasm for cooking healthy meals, for discovering new and varied ethnic foods.

“There Goes the Neighborhood!”

High on Jasper’s list of Slow Food resources are the fresh array of local Farmer’s Markets.  Addicts of the Culinary Center classes and open lunches can cross the street and fill their baskets with the fresh produce offered at Overland Park’s by local farmers, bakers, bee hive keepers and other local artisans.  While not all the vendors represent member businesses attached officially to Slow Food, they are the very reason the organization exists.  It is to these stalls and families who hauled their crops and the best their gardens had to offer that Jasper, Laura, and Slow Food are trying to direct Kansans.

In last month’s newsletter, Laiben-O’Rourke commented on the food mecca sprouting  in the once empty shops downtown Overland Park?  Penzeys Spices and the Tasteful Olive offer fresh spices and fresh, natural olive oils and vinegars.  Three new restaurants, all family owned have opened.  None are chain franchises, and   the menus offer fresh, local choices for customers.

Kansas City’s Slow Food No Longer Moving At Snail’s Pace

“The most important thing in this world is family,” Jasper summed up the work of the convivium.  “We have folks come to eat here, at the restaurant, who moved here and are far from family because of work.  Sometimes, a spouse has passed and there is no one left for them.  We try to have them feel at home when they come here, and having this spirit of sharing good food with people who care about them, that picks them up.  Some people in Slow Food focus on the ecological aspects of food, and we feel this is very important.  But, I want people to create family bonds, bonds that extend to the farmers and bakers, and people here in Kansas City, without going elsewhere.  This is the best way to bring people together, around the passion of food we have here, near our own city.  We bring folks to the table and that is the magic of food.”

People who share this passion for food will find kindred spirits in the “food district” in Overland Park.

Bringing big appetites and the week’s grocery list to local Slow Food artisans and stores is a great way to sustain Kansas and live by Petrini’s motto, “Encourage food that is healthy, fair, and delicious.”

Jeanette Pryor took the distance Food Writing course in Spring 2010. The mother of four lives near Kansas City and is a senior social sciences major.

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By Ely Behrhorst

Philly cheese steak, Maine lobster and the original Buffalo wings, just to name a few.

Dining on dogs at Nathans

“Far from Oz” compiles food stories of my spring break road trip turned travel blog of a New England eats tour in March of 2010 for the Kansas Food Journal. For one week my girlfriend and I traveled from the Mid-Atlantic north to New England and back to Kansas, tasting America where America began.

From New York City to the Green Mountains of Vermont, I certainly wasn’t in Kansas any more.

Follow my journey as I venture off the yellow brick road.

Link to Ely Behrhorst’s Blog:

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By Laura Parente

Oriental beauty oolong tea is a “popular native of Taiwan with pleasant lemon and spice accents,” according to the menu at House of Chá, an Asian style tea room in Lawrence. You can order by the pot or the cup. I  first tasted this unique Chinese tea on a day trip to Lawrence in search of a hot cup of tea. It was delicious.

I love tea. I have made it my mission to visit as many different teashops and tearooms as I possibly can. On the blog, I’ll report on my exploration of   the world of afternoon tea, tearooms, and teashops in Kansas.

We’ll experience new places, new teas, and new desserts. At Strawberry Hill Tea Room in Kansas City, I liked the fusion red and white tea. I’d never had it before. I found it to be subtly sweet and delicate.

All tea and food lovers are invited on the adventure. The blog also includes pictures and a section entitled, “the art of brewing tea.”

Link to Laura Parente’s Blog:

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By Dustin Nelson

Like a caterpillar going through metamorphosis, food can grow, shrink, change colors and become an eye-catching, desired item.  To understand the magic behind the scientific principles of foods, I went on an investigation around the Department of Food Science, Department of Human Nutrition, and a kitchen store to uncover reasons why and how food changes.

To give the evidence of how the culinary transformation process works, I created the blog mixingmolecules. The name alone gives context clues about what is contained inside. It features a handful of questions about how food works when it is prepared and cooked and then answers are shared by knowledgeable people.

From a student working on his doctorate in Human Nutrition to a homemaker with more than three decades of cooking in her repertoire that runs a kitchen store, the information given by these credible sources solves some mysteries of food.

After a scientific explanation of how food works there are selected recipes following each posting that highlights some of the principles discussed.  These recipes have been tested to ensure that they are truly delicious for the sake of those that with to venture into the scientific side of food. Go ahead and see how food and science can be fun and tasty, respectively!

Link to Dustin Nelson’s Blog:

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By Collin Hayes

Beer Conquest focuses on small, local breweries from the Midwest, specifically (but not exclusively) in Kansas. My goal with this blog is to create more awareness of local, craft brewers while hopefully gathering more supporters for each of the breweries.

With each post you should expect either a review of a specific beer(s) and/or a complete feature on a specific brewery. Also I’m going to interview some of the owner’s of the breweries to get an inside look at their operation and the craft brewing industry as a whole.

Use the blog as a reference tool for creating beer road trips with friends. I hope to create a list of the best breweries I’ve visited, along with some nearby breweries that are worth visiting at the same time. Beer road trips (or MANcations as my friends coined during our last outing) are best with friends and are always something I look forward to.

Link to Collin Hayes’s blog:

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