Friday, June 19, 2009

8 Wonders of Kansas Cuisine Announced

The result of 7 1/2 weeks of voting and 13,861 votes has determined the 8 Wonders of Kansas Cuisine! In alphabetical order, they are:

Bobo's Drive In, Topeka: The hamburgers, homemade onion rings, and apple pie have made this place famous since 1953.

Brookville Hotel, Abilene: Moved from the historic hotel in Brookville to Abilene in 2000, the famous family-style chicken menu has been served since 1915.

Cozy Inn, Salina: Since 1922 this 6-stool diner has been serving their famous sliders.

Crawford County Fried Chicken: Chicken Annie's, Chicken Mary's, Chicken Annie's Pichler's, Gebhardt's Chicken and Dinners, Barto's Idle Hour and Chicken Annie's Girard have made Crawford County legendary for fried chicken.

Free State Brewing Company, Lawrence. The state's first legal brewery after the days of prohibition also serves a variety of ethnic recipes.

Guy & Mae's Tavern, Williamsburg. Family-owned since 1973, tender ribs are served in foil and newspapers.

Hays House 1857 Restaurant & Tavern, Council Grove. Located on the Santa Fe Trail, this is the oldest continuously operating restaurant west of the Mississippi River.

Wheatfield's Bakery Cafe, Lawrence. This nationally-ranked bakery serves healthy meals featuring artisan breads.

Congratulations to the 8!

But that's just the "list" part of it.

If you really get to know the finalist by either reading their story or, better yet, going to each of the 24 finalists, you'll learn about our state's history, people, customs, architecture, and more. Go and ask questions and explore the town of the finalist and you'll get much more than a meal.

Here are a few facts to help you look beyond the "list." There's much more to notice.


Smallest city with a finalist was Simpson, pop. 101, with Trapper's Bar and Grill.

Cities under 1,500 with a finalist were Arlington, Leoti, Cottonwood Falls, Williamsburg, Scammon, Altoona, and Simpson.

Six finalists were located west of Salina and Wichita -- Anchor Inn, Hutchinson; Carolyn’s Essenhaus, Arlington; Charlie’s Mexican Restaurant, Leoti; Crazy R’s, Goodland; Pho Hoa, Garden City; and Trapper's Bar & Grill, Simpson.

Two were located in old residential neighborhoods in big cities: C.W. Porubsky's is in the "Little Russia" area of Topeka. The original Fritz's is in an old Kansas City, Kansas neighborhood.

The origins of six finalists date back prior to 1934 (Hays House, 1857; Brookville, 1915; Cozy Inn, 1922; Nuway, 1930; Homer's, 1931; Chicken Annie's, 1934).

Paolucci’s Restaurant opened in 1983 in Atchison but the recipes came to America with Grandma Paolucci in 1894. Josie's in Scammon uses recipes that date back to 1904 when Grandma Josie immigrated from Italy.

Types of food featured:
Ethnic (Italian - 2; Vietnamese - 1; Mexican - 2; Amish Mennonite - 1; Cajun/creole - 1; Russia - 1;
Mediterranean - 1).
Chicken - 2
Fine dining - 2
Barbecue - 1
Steak - 3
Americana burger - 4
Artisan bakery - 1
Mountain oysters - 1
Microbrewery - 1

From a list to facts -- but we need stories.


The Hibachi Hut, located within the confines of Aggieville in Manhattan, actually started out in 1953 cooking on a hibachi!

Chicken Annie's and Chicken Mary's both started out because their miner husbands had injuries that prevented them from going back to the mines. The women did what they knew best to provide income for the family and that was cook. They both started serving customers in their homes and the Crawford County fried chicken legacy was born.

Each place has a story about the place, the owner, the change in ownership, or the food. Many stories are found by clicking on the pictures.

One of my favorite stories in the whole contest was what happened to Pho Hoa in Garden City. In a way, it has changed how the family sees itself even to the extent that the comment was made, "Now we belong." It's a beautiful immigrant story, as Andy Mahoney says, and the impact of how this contest boosted their business and esteem is without a doubt, the biggest contest achievement of all. They have been continually busy since the contest started. To read their whole amazing immigrant story, click here.

To call this whole effort merely a contest trivializes the impact that educating Kansans about their own state can make. It's really a launching pad for each person's own journey in learning about Kansas.

Take that journey and it'll help you
"Get Kansas!"

Kansas Explorer #2 Marci Penner

Click here to get a "Guide to the 8 Wonders of Kansas Cuisine 24 Finalists"

1 comment:

Get Rooks County said...

That is a great comment Marci about it not just being a contest. It is about "education" and I guess that is our mission now, isn't it?--to help people "Get It."