Archive for the ‘Who’s Who at CCKC’ Category


Welcome our Newest CCKC Instructor…

March 23, 2017

One really great task we look forward to at The Culinary Center of Kansas City is attending New Instructor Demos.  When we’re talking with folks who are potential instructors here, one step in the process is to invite them in to ‘show us their stuff.’  They do a shortened version of a cooking class that they’d like to offer at CCKC. We stand in as the class members, asking questions and taking notes like students in our real classes do.  This is a chance for the instructor to feel out our kitchens, and it gives us the opportunity to see if they’re a good fit and ready to take on some classes in our schedule.

Today, we had the pleasure of watching a New Instructor Demo by a chef who we all agreed is definitely CCKC material. In fact, we put two classes on the schedule immediately!  A seasoned chef and natural teacher at heart, Jason Bowers brings a wealth of talent and knowledge to the table. After graduating at the famed Johnson and Wales Culinary School, Bowers stayed the next few years on the East Coast before returning with his wife and family to his native Midwest. He went on to work as Executive Chef at Dean and DeLuca in Leawood before opening Café Trocadero in midtown Kansas City in 1999. He has also served as Executive Chef at Cerner Corporation and Hotel Phillips here in the KC area.  (Folks, this guy is the real deal and you’ll love learning from him. It’s like you get to peer behind the curtain of how a chef thinks and feels as he cooks.)

Register today for seats in one of Jason’s upcoming classes at The Culinary Center of Kansas City.  (Click on the class title below for more information or to sign up.)

The Chef’s Table – Spring Treasures
Friday, April 14  |  6:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Limited Hands-On, Dinner included
Join Chef Bowers as he highlights the intense and nascent flavors of spring in a sophisticated menu which includes dishes such as Freshly Harvested Greens with a Hot Bacon Vinaigrette, Rice Noodles with Spinach, Mushrooms and Asparagus, a delicate seared fish with a Red Wine Cherry Glaze, marinated and grilled steak with Avocado and Ramp Salsa and as the finale, an Orange Chocolate Crème Brûlée. 

A Tribute to Escoffier
Friday, May 5  |  6:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Limited Hands-On, Dinner included
Georges Auguste Escoffier, known as the “king of chef and the chef of kings” was a French chef and restaurateur who almost single-handedly revolutionized his profession and the public’s palate nearly 100 years ago. His impact on the world of cooking still resonates to this day. Let’s explore traditional French Escoffier-inspired cooking methods this evening with an experienced local chef as he walks you through a stylish menu.  You’ll learn how to break down a whole fish as well as how to prepare two beautiful sauces to pair with your tender fish – a Vin Blanc and a Beurre Blanc.  Master the art of seasoning and this menu’s flavor profiles as you learn to cook with fresh herbs and explore the various types of salts that chefs use to achieve their spectacular results. We will learn as he prepares Roasted Lemon Sole with Smoked Shrimp and Feta Stuffing and Fresh Fruit Salsas and Chutneys, among other beautiful courses.

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Meet Chef Sergio…

February 6, 2017

We have some fabulous folks working with us as part of our team here at The Culinary Center of Kansas City, and we love to introduce them to you. So, we profile some of these extraordinary employees in our Kitchen Talk blog. Now, we’d like you to get to know our Executive Chef Sergio Lara, who is the focus of this Employee Spotlight.

Sergio LaraSergio Lara was raised in ‘la cocina’… and has been working in professional kitchens for more than 20 years – from senior living communities and country clubs to hotels and fine dining restaurants.

Chef Sergio started out as Sous Chef Sergio at The Culinary Center of Kansas City™. He eventually became a class instructor and now serves as our Executive Chef. We’re darn glad to have him with us full time now.

Chef Sergio brings a gift for understanding great cooking technique, and a true passion for culinary creativity.

Vicky & SergioYou might have met his twin sister, Vicky Lara, here at The Culinary Center too. She has been our ‘Chicana in Charge’ for 10 years now, and runs our operations as well as facilitating classes and events. The Lara family talents also include sister Susy, who teaches classes here also and Sergio’s daughter Alexis, who is one of our wonderful Wizards (that’s the fancy title for “behind the scenes employee making certain we are clean and organized”).

Check out one of Sergio’s upcoming cooking classes:


Proud To Be Selected…

October 6, 2016

Wow! Thanks! Sure, it’s an honor to be nominated, but we have to be honest… it feels even better to win.

Laura LaibenWe are proud to announce that The Culinary Center of Kansas City has been named Kansas Woman-Owned Business of the the Year Service Industry Firm by the Kansas Department of Commerce, Office of Minority & Women Business Development.

Laura Laiben, CCKC founder, owner and ‘Main Dish’, will be honored at an awards luncheon in Topeka next week, and we couldn’t be prouder. This little idea that she created 20 years ago has grown and become a culinary fixture in the Kansas City community.

Just had to share…


BBQ ‘n Booze w/Bruce Campbell

September 5, 2016

Our very own Midwest BBQ Institute instructor Bruce Campbell has been immortalized in print! He’s featured this month in Mission Magazine in an article about Mission’s upcoming 12th Annual ‘Battle of the Brisket‘ on Sept. 16 & 17. (Look for the article on pages 8-9.)

Bruce Campbell article in Mission Magazine

Mission Magazine, Aug/Sept 2016

Bruce has been instructing barbecue/grilling and beverage classes at The Culinary Center of Kansas City for years. Some of his most popular classes include our Girls’ Night Out classes – or in Bruce’s case, his class is ‘Grills Night Out’ class. It’s a fun evening to learn a thing or two about grilling while enjoying a beverage with your girlfriends. The classes generally sell out – because who doesn’t love a great reason for a GNO?!

In his free time, when he’s not teaching cooking class at The Culinary Center, Bruce puts his BBQ knowledge and experience from 30+ years in the restaurant industry to good use with RibStars, the BBQ team with whom he’s been competing since 1999.

Sign up for Bruce’s next class, BBQ ‘n Booze this coming Friday night, Sept. 9!




Meet Our New Dean of Deliciousness… Rachel White

August 18, 2016

Rachel WhiteHelp us welcome the newest member to our Culinary Center of Kansas City team. Rachel White is now our Culinary Curriculum Manager (better known in our world as the Dean of Deliciousness – or Dean of Delish, for short).

We’re excited to have her as part of our team and when you meet her, you’ll soon know why we say that.  She has a passion for the culinary world that equals her passion for working with people.

After graduating in 2011 from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York with a Culinary Arts degree, she returned to the Kansas City area worked for 3 years at Dean and Deluca as their Catering Manager, working directly with chefs to plan menus and execute successful events. In 2015, she became the Food and Beverage Manager at Indian Hills Country Club, responsible for the overall operation of their restaurants and details of their special events.  Included on her impressive resumé is time she spent dancing professionally with Tokyo Disney, Wabi Dance Co. and various other commercial and company dance work.

Rachel enjoys volunteering in the community as well, and has served as a Kemper Gala committee member and First Downs for Down Syndrome coordinator.

As Dean of Deliciousness at CCKC, Rachel will manage all of our cooking classes and recruit new instructors. She’s always open to new ideas for classes or the chance to speak with folks who think they would make a great addition to our teaching team. You can email her at


Job Posting: Are You The Perfect Culinary Ambassador?

July 19, 2016

If you think you’d make an awesome
Retail Store Manager / Culinary Ambassador
for The Kitchen Shop
at The Culinary Center of Kansas City
we want to hear from you!

As part of the management team of a successful culinary arts center, this person would be essential to the overall operation and success of its Kitchen Shop.  It could be a part time (25+ hrs/week) or full-time position (40 hrs/wk) for the right candidate.

The Kitchen Shop @ The Culinary CenterOur Kitchen Shop functions not only as a culinary retail store specializing in the sale of basic kitchen tools, equipment and local artisanal food products, but also as a marketing and information portal for all other activities of The Culinary Center.  The team members working in this area are responsible for forming our customers’ first impression of The Culinary Center of Kansas City and must fully understand the importance of “value added” customer experience. It carries significant responsibility including the establishment and maintenance of excellent customer service relationships with existing and potential customers as well as cross-selling to other services we offer to the public such as cooking classes, private events, teambuilding and catering.  The schedule will be flexible, covering weekdays and weekends. Hourly pay starts at $13/hour, but the right candidate with retail and customer service experience and the passion to take command of this important position could demand a higher hourly rate upon hire or shortly after.   Opportunity for regular increase in hourly rate based on performance.

This position is perfect for someone with retail experience as well as a love for cooking and for helping customers and wants to play a key part in making this part of our business successful. This person would handle merchandise sale but also explain, promote and sell our Dinners on Demand freezer cuisine; answer questions about cooking classes, our weekly “Tuesday Lunch” and private events; greet students and people attending private events; assist customers in the store and on the phone with signing up for classes and purchasing gift certificates; and enjoy organizing, ‘fluffing & tickling’ and styling our merchandise displays; and be able to source and order inventory. Plus, happily handle various random things that come up in any retail establishment.

A qualified applicant must be customer focused, be capable of making excellent customer service judgments, be results driven and organized, have proficient verbal/written communication skills, be able to interact with the public, work well within a well-honed team, have a good working knowledge of cooking and the culinary arts, and enjoy working with those passionate about cooking and food.  Maturity and a sense of humor are important.  No divas, babies or whiners please.

Please send (1) resume and (2) a cover letter explaining why you believe you would be perfect for this position to  Sorry but no ‘walk-in’ resumes or phone inquiries will be accepted at this time.

The Culinary Center of Kansas City is located in historic, vibrant and growing (!) Downtown Overland Park (7920 Santa Fe, Overland Park, KS 66204) and is a full-service culinary arts center offering cooking classes, special events, teambuilding experiences, catering, offices and a Kitchen Shop, all in a beautiful 6,500 square foot historic building.  Our mission is to consistently exceed client expectations and enrich our community by providing education, cultivation and appreciation for the culinary arts through a variety of experiences including cooking classes, interactive culinary experiences and creative catered events, all of which are brilliantly conceived, precisely and joyously executed in an immaculate and comfortable environment. We were also honored as one of The Best Paces To Work in Kansas City by the KC Business Journal.

Help Wanted


Do You Know How To Count Beans?

May 30, 2016

If you do, then you might be a perfect addition to our team!
We have a job opening for
“CCKC Bean Counter” (a/k/a Bookkeeper)
at The Culinary Center of Kansas City!
Read through the job description below.
If you are the perfect candidate then let us know!
bean counterThe Culinary Center of Kansas City, a successful culinary arts center located in Downtown Overland Park, Kansas, would like to hire a part-time or full-time bookkeeper (a/k/a “Culinary Bean Counter”). The right person for this position would walk in and take ownership of this important role and love working with a smart and creative team of people.  Primary responsibilities would be day-to-day financial transactions particular to a culinary arts center, such as maintenance of bank accounts, manage accounts receivable and payable, calculations of instructor fees and sales transactions, preparation and analysis of reports, and other similar duties.  Included within this position would be some limited human resources tasks as well as general office duties, such as sales transactions, gift certificate preparation, etc.    The right person for this position would also have the skills to work alongside the owner to analyze general financial position, predict upcoming cash needs, troubleshoot unusual accounting issues and be able to advise owner as to such on a regular basis.

Company Culture:   We are a 20-year-old company that believes in and practices a work/life balance.  The mission of The Culinary Center of Kansas City is to consistently exceed client expectations and enrich our community by providing education, cultivation and appreciation for the culinary arts through a variety of experiences including cooking classes, interactive culinary experiences and creative catered events, all of which are brilliantly conceived, precisely and joyously executed in an immaculate and visually approachable environment.  We are proud of the fact that we were named as “One Of The Best Places To Work in Kansas City.”   We don’t fool around with the idea that work should be a place that you actually enjoy.

Requirements:  Quickbooks & Excel proficient; B.S. in accounting, business administration or related field is preferred and/or equivalent work experience.  The person for this position must be trustworthy, organized, mature, professional, self-motivated, able to work with a dynamic team, understand confidentiality, be able to work alongside the business owner in a trusted capacity, have the ability to multi-task and work quickly and with accuracy.   A sense of humor is welcome as well.  No divas, babies or whiners please. J  This position would likely be a perfect fit for someone who has spent some years in a traditional corporate setting but who desires to move to a position with flexibility in a progressive and creative small business where they can apply what they have learned to make a difference and grow within that company.

Schedule can be flexible and will average 30-35 hours per week, with a significant number of the hours performed, at least initially, during normal business hours in order to understand the business and its operations.  However, once mastered, more flexibility is possible. For the right person, this position could be full-time if desired.  Hourly rate is negotiable depending on experience and skill-level, but would likely be in the range of $15-$20/hour.  This position is available immediately.

If you are interested in this position, please send your resume and a cover letter outlining why you feel you would be a good fit to

General Duties:

Daily Banking:  Print out and reconcile merchant account charges and bank statement from previous day; makes deposits as required (including depositing the daily credit card receivables into the appropriate bank account).

Tracking Sales and Payments:  Enter credit card sales and refunds; create invoices and receive and process payments for private events and teambuilding events; maintain Gift Certificate and Class Credit records; input class and gift certificate sales from online reservation system each day.

Prepare Cost Analysis of Classes and Special Events:  Gather information and fill out prepared cost analysis form for each type of event for review by owner; once approved, then pay instructor, etc.

Payroll:  Prepare information to be forwarded to payroll company twice per month; enter information into Quickbooks – salary, allocation of labor to types of events; track current pay rates for staff; prepare contractor checks; prepare 1099’s for contract employees at year-end.

Weekly/Monthly/Annual Reports Prepare financial reports at the direction of owner, including the filing of all monthly sales tax reports and any month end adjustments in Quickbooks relating to deferred class fees; run specialized reports relating to monthly event and class sales as needed.

Miscellaneous:  Review and pay all bills, prepare applicable license renewals and other specialized documentation with the assistance of owner .

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