Missouri is generally written off as a “flyover state.” Has been since the death of trains as a form of mass transportation. But, Missouri is home to my home: Kansas City. Perhaps one of the most unique places to live. Kansas City is a little city and a little suburbia with a sprinkle of midwestern charm. The KC-metro area is actually spread across two states, Kansas and Missouri, and is the hometown of celebrities and public figures such as Jason Sudeikis, Paul Rudd, and Walt Disney.
I used to hate living in Kansas City, it was actually a huge motivator for me to attend college out of state. But, during my visits home, I began to realize that something was happening in KC: it was changing. The city I believed once catered only to the upper echelon (Kansas City has a rich history in dance, music, specifically jazz, and art. The usual high society trifecta), was beginning to house new restaurant concepts, mixology bars, and fun new activities like breakout rooms and music festivals. Perhaps turning 21 helped me to see my hometown differently, since it’s nightlife was finally open to me, but it’s changing landscape is what inspired me to start my blog, Keeping Up with the City.
Initially, my blog started as a project for me to literally keep up with the city, but I realized very quickly that chasing down the latest and greatest was exhausting and transitioned to focusing my blog on local finds in pursuit of living a mostly local lifestyle. In the midst of this project, I realized that shopping local had more to do with me wanting to support the local businesses I had come to know and love. It was about challenging conventional consumerism that lauds “fast and good enough” over “slow and purposeful” and often to the detriment of other human beings and other forms of life (i.e. animals, plant life, the environment). This realization inspired me to add holistic finds to my blog material line up.
Keeping up with the City is a lifestyle blog that is about more than the city I live in; it’s about living life with purpose. From the thoughts that swirl around in my head to the businesses I support, I am working to manifest the world I want to live in and by doing so, inspiring others to do the same.
A few of my favorite things:
• Music Festival: Boulevardia
• Food: Town Topic (fast food option) and Rockhill Grille (restaurant dining)
• Bar: either SoT (South of Troost) or Swordfish Tom’s
• Beer: Boulevard Hibiscus Gose
• Nightclub: Funkytown
• Local Read: The Huntsman by Whitney Terrell
• Museum: The WWI Museum
• Arts Event: Fringe Fest KC
Keep up with Kara Johnson on her social media platform @keepingupwiththecity
I have traveled to many countries in Europe and Southeast Asia and my favorites are on the other side of the world, in Asia, as it is something new to me. I currently live in Europe, and although I have traveled to many European countries, I find Asian culture very interesting, new and exciting. I like being challenged, and Asia is more challenging in every way. One being that the language is a barrier, but smiles are usually able to break it down.
What inspires me the most about traveling is the people I meet, either locals or other travelers that share the same adventurous spirit. Meeting different cultures is also very enriching. I have been to India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia. However, I will be focusing on Vietnam.
Vietnam is very different from my Western culture, so traveling is definitely an experience. I have been to places in Northern Vietnam to Southern Vietnam. Just like other countries in the world, they have their differences. Even the food in the North is different than the food in the South. In my opinion, Vietnam is home to the most delicious food in Southeast Asia. Every dish is so tasty and also quite cheap. The best sandwich in the world is Vietnamese Banh Mi and it costs about 50 cents, for example. Vietnamese people are very kind and welcoming. They smile and greet you on the street and they have no problem trying to help in case you need it. Although they are not able to speak, they are able to make gestures using their hands in ways that help us understand each other.
For many years I dreamed of travelling the world but it always seemed so out of reach. From what ifs and buts, self doubt and overall not having the courage to up and go. Anxiety and mental health challenges held me back for a long time and suddenly one day I told myself I was going to travel. I think after feeling defeated for so long and not following my heart due to self doubt, it gave me such determination to make my dreams happen. And then I did and now, I’m living my dream. I’m currently living in New Zealand which is my eleventh country to visit in the 2 years I have been travelling. To say I feel blessed would be an understatement and I’m truly grateful to be able to travel with my partner, my best friend, who is the other half behind That Wanderlust Boho.
I often get asked about the places I’ve visited and where has been my favourite so far. And, I never thought I’d say this but Australia is one of my favourite countries, although at first, I was not looking forward to visiting there. Let me explain, Australia was our last destination on our list and the place where I’d have to get a job, so I wasn’t looking forward to that. I also had not done any research and one of the only places I knew I’d like to visit was Byron Bay. After living in Australia for a whole year I can hand on heart say it is one of my favourite and most beautiful countries I’ve ever visited. Not only are there incredible beaches which are showcased a lot (and rightly so), but there are Jurassic rainforests with palm trees taller than your eyes can see. There are many adventures to be had and we spent a year ticking off as much as we could.
We landed in Brisbane, QLD and based ourselves there for one week to get ourselves set up. Once all the important bits were done we bought ourselves a van which we named Indie, and headed straight to Noosa. My partner was eager to visit as there was a surf festival so we planned to stay for two weeks. Those two weeks turned into seven wonderful months living in one of the most beautiful spots in Australia. Noosa National Park will always be a very fond memory for me as we spent most our evenings there taking a sunset dip and a cold shower. And, not to mention my partner surfed there every day there was a wave. It was definitely hard to say goodbye to Noosa.
Before our next East Coast destination, we had an epic road trip around the Sunshine Coast. We visited many beaches and found hidden caves, explored the hinterlands, swam in freshwater pools and hiked Mount Ngungun where we witnessed a magical sunset. Next stop was Byron Bay. Again, we hadn’t planned to stay long but we ended up living here for the rest of our time in Australia, which was 5 months. From watching the surfers at The Pass, dolphin spotting, sunset dips and the famous sunrise hike to the lighthouse. I especially love how laid back the lifestyle there is, walking around barefoot, the bohemian fashion. It really is special and there’s no wonder how it’s such a popular place to visit.
Although I spent a year living in Australia I didn’t get to see as much of it as I hoped. I hugely underestimated the sheer size of Australia. I may not have travelled all around but I explored so much of the East Coast and really fell in love. One of my favourite spots I was lucky to visit was Lamington National Park- it is pure magic and I’d recommend anyone who loves nature to add this to your adventure bucket list. I didn’t have high expectations for Australia but it turned out to be one of my most cherished adventures. Australia is known for its world class beaches and surf. It makes discovering the hinterlands, the history and its heart so much more magical. I’d go back in a heartbeat.
For more adventures and destinations tips, follow @thatwanderlustboho on Instagram and website @thatwanderlustboho
Albertho Appolon began his journey in the kitchen by working at a Brazilian restaurant called Beer 360. His moment of inspiration happened when he moved up from being a dishwasher to a food runner, which was more exciting. He was the final person touching the plates before they reached the customers. He loved the feeling of watching someone look at the food when it first arrived and experiencing their joy and excitement after taking the first bite. Even though he wasn’t the one cooking at that time, it still made him feel good to experience food through the consumer’s point of view. It was there in that Brazilian restaurant that Appolon fell in love with the idea of feeding people.
The kitchen is Appolon’s happy place; the place where he feels most at home. He has experience leading kitchens in Miami, Los Angeles, and Texas. He uses farmers market ingredients to create mouth watering dishes that dazzle. His scratch-made cuisine is packed with luscious flavors and a visual presentation that keeps people coming back for more. Appolon wants to continue travelling and cooking around the US and the world. He is truly passionate about the preparation process of food with all of its elements such as cooking, baking, roasting, sautéing, and frying. Most importantly, Appolon is satisfied by the joy that he is able to bring to people's lives throughout his food.
Appolon has overcome many obstacles in his culinary pursuits. The most significant struggles came from people underestimating his abilities, and dealing with being undercompensated due to his age and skin color. Nevertheless, he used these obstacles as fuel to keep pushing forward. He focuses on learning new things and practicing his skills. This amazing chef is motivated to keep cooking because it is his greatest passion to serve great food to people. He shares that cooking is what gives his life meaning. There's nothing else in the world he would rather be doing than turning his cooking into pieces of art.
When asked what Valiance means to him, Appolon replied in saying, "leadership, patience, dignity, strength, and confidence."
He works to display these qualities daily. Albertho Appolon wants to give people unforgettable culinary experiences by adding his own flavors to the culture of fine dining. He hopes to be known for his decadent French/Caribbean creations and artistic use of colors. He wants to be a role model for the next generation of chefs, with the goal of showing young chefs how to grow in their craft and expand in a professional capacity.
Check out incredible food creations by Albertho Appolon @the_upcoming.chef
Shandelyn Stewart (also known as The Food Shaq), began her journey as a personal chef from watching her mother and grandmother cook at home, especially around the holidays. This tradition started the spark of her passion for food and cooking. Stewart recalls always staying up late submerging herself in the aroma and techniques of her grandmother’s skills while preparing different kinds of food. These memories always stayed with her and she knew that being a chef was her calling. As she grew older she went to college with culinary still in her heart. She learned to cook for herself. She would have friends come over every Friday to cook for them and they thoroughly enjoyed the food, enduring themselves in every bite. After gaining the confidence she needed from her friends and family she prepared food for, it was a unanimous decision that she should attend culinary school. Stewart applied and got accepted. She attended two years of culinary school and now on the journey of being an entrepreneur.
Stewart is a Personal private chef, which means she does in-home dining services, small catering (75 people and under in order to maintain her food quality because everything is made from scratch). She also meal-preps for professional football players such as the Kansas City Chiefs and does pop-up shops in Kansas City to share her love for food with her community.
Stewart thrives on the reactions and joy she receives when people taste her food. She also believes that food brings people together.
“I’ve gotten back in touch with friends from elementary school who have requested me to cook for them. People I haven’t seen or heard from in years get in touch with me wanting to have the experience and I’m happy to provide that for them.”
Like any business, Stewart has had obstacles she’s had to overcome as far as simply having no idea where to start. Her biggest struggle was pricing her food and trying to make sure that the price of the food was fair while making a profit to invest back into her business with quality produce, in part, still trying to provide for herself. Slowly and surely Stewart was able to come up with proper pricing based on her menu and the needs of her customers. Stewart was also able to mitigate her obstacles by relying on mentors who are familiar with the culinary world and the proper avenues to take so she can be successful.
Stewart leans on her family and girlfriend to keep her going and to stay motivated when times get hard. Since the beginning, they have supported her emotionally and physically by helping her prep meals, and encouraging her through her journey.
Stewart would like to continue to cook for professional athletes, and one day cook for celebrities. Simply creating new experiences. Stewart understands that cooking for big names brings greater responsibilities, but she enjoys the great experiences.
We asked Shandelyn Stewart what Valiance means to her,
“To me, Valiance means to be heroic and have the willingness to take a chance and accept the power that comes with it.”
Check out more of Stewart’s work @the_food_shaqq
300g Chocolate (Dark and Milk)
260g Crushed Walnuts
200g All-purpose flour
120g Cake flour
1tsp Corn Starch
1tsp Baking powder
1/2tsp Baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 Eggs – room temperature
200g unsalted butter
100g white sugar
100g Dark Brown sugar
¼ tsp vanilla extract