In The Loop

Parisi Barista Is Cream Of The Crop

Pete Licata has earned the title of 2013 U.S. National Barista Champion from the world’s coffee authority and largest coffee trade association, Specialty Coffee Association of America. He went on to compete for the World Barista Champion title in Australia in May.

Pete Licata

The 34-year-old longtime coffee aficionado returned to his hometown of Kansas City by way of Hawaii last year to work for Parisi Artisan Coffee as quality assurance manager. In this short time with Parisi, he’s fallen in love with Parisi’s coffees and dedicated himself to training for his last competition for the world title.

“I love competing, but I think I’m ready to retire from the competition side of things, especially after I have a world title under my belt,” Licata says. “I hope to focus on my second love and that’s mentoring up-and-coming baristas. I have a passion for educating others about coffee. More than just how to make a good cup of coffee but rather the art of the technique.”

With 40 competitors vying for the barista title in April, Licata came out on top with uncomplicated recipes using an award-winning, single origin Colombian coffee. He impressed the judges with his cool demeanor, homemade syrups and attention to detail. The standard competition consists of a 15-minute performance that features the preparation of four espressos, four cappuccinos and four original signature drinks.

Licata’s signature drink featured a chilled palm sugar simple syrup combined with an espresso shot over ice and a dropper full of non-alcoholic bitters with orange peel and lemongrass.

Licata previously won the U.S. Barista Championship in 2011 and went on to win second place at the World Barista Competition in Bogota, Columbia, where he competed against the top baristas from 54 countries. Only one other U.S. barista has ever achieved this height. Licata began competing in 2005 and has won many top honors, including regional champion in 2005, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2013. Most notably, he has won second place in the U.S. Barista Championship three times.



Junior Iron Chef Kansas City will take place June 7 at Union Station, where youth chef teams will be challenged to prepare delicious, original, allergy-free dishes.

The chefs — students in grades six through 12 — will be competing for one of three top prizes: Best in Show, Most Creative and Best Food Allergy Recipe, each paying $1,000 to the winning teams. Each team will prepare and serve their dish to a panel of judges that includes local chefs and celebrities. The dish cannot contain peanuts, tree nuts or shellfish.

Chef Jasper Mirabile Jr. will serve as master of ceremonies of the event, which is open to the public. Demonstrations, entertainment and team preparations will be from 1 to 4 p.m. Proceeds will support the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Greater Kansas City Chapter.

Erika DeVore, executive director of the foundation, says, “It’s our goal that, through the Junior Iron Chef Kansas City competition, we can provide students with an opportunity to showcase their talent, teach them about food allergies and build the confidence needed to succeed in this industry.”

The Junior Iron Chef program provides community development and health education for youth and their families suffering from food allergies. More than 12 million Americans have food allergies, and in Kansas City, asthma and allergies are the leading cause for school absenteeism and hospitalizations. There is no cure for food allergies. Strict avoidance of food allergens and early recognition and management of allergic reactions to food are important measures to prevent serious health consequences.

For more information, visit



Christmas has arrived early this year for Kansas City Repertory Theatre. “A Christmas Story, The Musical!,” which had its world premiere at the Rep in 2009, was nominated for three Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score. The 67th Annual Tony Awards will be presented June 9 on CBS.

“As a producing partner of the Broadway production, all of
us at the Rep are elated for the success and national visibility that ‘A Christmas Story, The Musical!’ has brought us,” says the Rep’s Artistic Director Eric Rosen, who directed show’s 2009 premiere and a 2010 production in Seattle. “‘A Christmas Story’ became the largest hit in Rep history, and then went on to capture the hearts of audiences across the country before landing on Broadway in 2012 for a record-breaking run. I never would have dreamed that the Rep’s world premiere would go on to be honored with three Tony nominations.”

Since its Rep premier and a staging at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre, “A Christmas Story, The Musical!” went on a five-city holiday tour in 2011 and premiered on Broadway in 2012, where it was co-produced by Peter Billingsley (the former child actor who created the role of Ralphie Parker in the film) and was one of Broadway’s highest-grossing holiday shows ever.



Shawnee Town 1929 recently hosted a grand opening party in honor of its new Truck Farm farmstead, which includes a farmhouse, chicken coop, barn, shed, garage, root cellar and outhouse.

Located at 11501 W. 57th St., the living-history museum offers visitors a glimpse into what life was like in Shawnee’s truck-farming community during the 1920s.

Check out the new changes at Shawnee Town from June 8 and 9 at the annual Old Shawnee Days Festival. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. visitors can spy on the chicken coop, plant seeds in the garden, do laundry on a washboard, play games in the schoolhouse and design their own family tree.

Those who complete five activities will receive a free gift.

For more information, visit and



Colby Garrelts, the chef and co-owner of Bluestem and Rye restaurants, has won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Midwest. The awards ceremony took place at New York City’s Lincoln Center in May.

Colby Garrelts
photo: Bonjwing Lee

Garrelts took his wife, Megan, pastry chef and co-owner of both restaurants, to the podium with him to receive the prestigious award. James Beard awards are the highest honor to recognize outstanding professionals in the food and beverage industries.

Commenting on his award, Garrelts stated, “I am extremely honored to receive this award. It is the recognition that every chef in America strives for in their career. I need to thank my wife and partner in the restaurant, Megan, and our outstanding staffs. It is more than a chef award, it is a win for our restaurants and entire team.”

This was Garrelts’ seventh nomination, and he is the fourth Kansas City-area chef to win the honor, joining the likes of well-known chefs and restaurateurs Debbie Gold, Michael Smith and Celina Tio.

Bluestem, 900 Westport Road, in Kansas City, Mo., specializes in progressive American cuisine and new varieties of American desserts. For more information, visit

Rye, 10551 Mission Road, in Leawood, Kan., celebrates Midwestern cuisine, traditions and culture. For more information, visit



Kansas City’s fifth annual Just For Her event, presented by Lauren Wants To Know of McCarthy Auto Group, will take place June 7-9 at the Overland Park Convention Center.

The event features more than 275 booths of shopping, beauty treatments, health and wellness guidance, entertainment, and tasty treat sampling. Attendees can also enjoy $6 Sunny D Tantinis, sponsored by Celsius Tannery.

Explore the Midwest Women’s Care Game Of Life exhibit for a chance to win a new car from McCarthy Auto Group, and enter to win hundreds of prize giveaways, including thousands of dollars in shopping sprees.

On June 7, Oliver Hair Salon will sponsor Salon Cuts For A Cause — you can get a haircut, straightened or blowout style from a stylist at Oliver’s Hair Salon for a minimum $5 donation to benefit Susan G. Komen.

Tickets are $6 in advance or $10 at the door.

For more information, visit


Head For the Cure Kick-Off

Head for the Cure at the K! activities begin at noon before the Houston Astros vs. Kansas City Royals game Sunday, June 9. The $22 ticket package includes a discounted lower-level ticket to the game, an Outfield Experience Play Pass, a special Head for the Cure headband and wristband, a $5 donation to the Head for the Cure Foundation and all the Family FunDay Sunday attractions at Kauffman Stadium. For tickets, call (816) 504-4473 or visit

The event kicks off the promotion of and registration for the 11th annual Head for the Cure 5K, one of the city’s largest 5K runs with 5,000 participants. The event, which is a family-oriented activity and a sanctioned run for serious runners, takes place Aug. 25 at Corporate Woods in Overland Park. Prizes will be awarded to the top overall male and female finishers, the top masters (40-plus) male and female finishers, and to other age groups.

Donations and event proceeds benefit state-of-the-art clinical trials investigating new treatments for malignant brain tumors. Nearly $2 million has been awarded to the Brain Tumor Trials Collaborative from Head for the Cure in the last 10 years.

Discounts apply for early registration.

For more information, visit


Oklahoma joe’s gets National Nod

Forbes magazine recently released its list of 10 Great BBQ Joints Across the USA. Toping the list is Kansas City’s own Oklahoma Joe’s.

photo: Brooke Vandever

Here’s what the publication had to say about the popular eatery:

“Because Kansas City spans all style of barbecue, with beef brisket and ribs, pork in all forms, turkey, sausage and more, plus its home grown niche, ‘burnt ends,’ twice-cooked exterior cubes of brisket, the Midwestern city is perhaps the ultimate barbecue lover’s destination. And many KC residents agree that Oklahoma Joe’s, started by a former barbecue world champion in a gas station (they still serve gas) is the very best of the best. The line starts before they open for lunch, but it moves fast, the place is friendly and efficient, and the food is over-the-top good, from the creative specialty sandwiches to the exquisite brisket, but especially the superlative rack of pork ribs, as perfectly prepared as you will ever see — ribs do not get any better than these. There may be no better BBQ joint in the nation. And if the wait deters you, there is a newer, larger, full-service Oklahoma Joe’s restaurant in nearby Olathe, Kan.”

Oklahoma Joe’s also has a Leawood location across from Town Center Plaza.


Where “Scentsations” Endure

For nearly two decades, savvy fragrance-seekers have flocked to Hawthorne Plaza’s S-Scents where boutique owner and aromatherapy expert Susan Rix has delighted senses with her custom blends and unique products. Now, Rix has set her sights on a new horizon: carefree days and time with family.

The store is now in the capable hands of new owner Noel Addleman, who says, “I am thrilled to continue the 19-year-long S-Scents tradition in Kansas City.”

Parting ways with S-Scents is bittersweet for Rix, but she takes with her a wealth of treasured memories.

“S-Scents has been my passion and pride for the last 19 years,” says Rix. “To my dedicated customers, I thank you for supporting a local business. To my employees past and present, just know I love you all.”

She encourages customers old and new to stop by to meet Addleman, of whom Rix says, “She is bringing a breath of fresh air into those four walls.”

Addleman will continue providing what the boutique is revered for: exclusive lines, local products, endless perfume possibilities, and the finest in fragrance for home, body and bath.

Visit S-Scents at 119th and Roe in Overland Park or online at



The Sunset Music Fest kicks off a free concert series at 7 p.m. on Thursdays at Town Center in Leawood with the following performances:
•  The Smithereens, with hits like the classic “Girl Like You,” “Only a Memory,” “Behind the Wall of Sleep,” “Top of the Pops” and “Blues Before and After,” will perform on June 6.

•  June 13 will bring the talents of Paula Cole to the Sunset Music Fest stage. The Grammy Award-winning artist is known for the hits “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” “I Don’t Want to Wait,” “Feelin’ Love,” “Me” and “Hush, Hush, Hush.”

•  Chuck Mead, former leader of the band BR549, will bring his Grassy Knoll Boys to perform on June 20. A former Lawrence resident, Mead was inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame in March.

•  June 20 will feature the talents of Little Rachel, whose style pays homage to some of her favorite artists like Etta James and Wynona Carr. As an added bonus, her concert will also feature a vintage car and motorcycle show.

Each event, for which Town Center is partnering with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, will include kids’ activities, a beer garden, weekly giveaways and a VIP section reserved for contest winners.

For details, visit