Not every chef can step out the back door of their restaurant kitchen to pick the freshest produce for meal service each day, but in her new position as head chef of The Sundry, Kara Anderson can – and does – do just that.

Owner Ryan Wing proudly announced Anderson as the new head chef of his farm-fresh kitchen and market in August. He says Anderson will be in charge of “the concept’s menu development, ingredient crafting, preservation, and local agricultural partnership efforts.”

The Sundry has always prided itself on being a farm-to-table restaurant. Its recent move from the middle of the urban core in the Crossroads to the Westport Plexpod complex off 39th Street literally brought the farm to the table. Cultivate Kansas City is responsible for planting and managing the farm and came on board as part of the entrepreneurial masterplan for the entire building when the Plexpod opened in the spring of last year.

Anderson is perfectly suited to run a farm-to-table restaurant located next door to a large urban farm. A classically trained chef with a degree in the culinary arts, she also has a second degree in agriculture education. Growing up on a farm near Columbia, Missouri, after college, Anderson then moved to Portland, Oregon, and worked for three years as a sous chef before returning home. Here, she landed jobs on the line at The Rieger under chef-owner Howard Hanna and at The Restaurant at 1900 under executive chef Linda Duerr.

“Chef Kara will use her diverse skill-set to oversee programs that emphasize The Sundry’s apt self-description of 'Butcher, Baker, Farmer, Maker,'” says Wing. “Examples include charcuterie made with Berkshire pork from Of The Earth Farm, rotating fresh pastries and breads, harvesting crops directly from Cultivate Kansas City’s on-site Westport Commons farm, and crafting The Sundry’s signature, all-natural fountain sodas such as Basil Mint Ginger Ale.”

“I get excited about food, perhaps more than farming, but the two definitely go hand in hand,” Anderson adds. “With both degrees, I am in the unique position of understanding how weather and rainfall impacts why I can or cannot get certain ingredients in my kitchen. It helps me to anticipate the growing cycle, to get ahead of it with my cooking.” 

With a new butcher hired to assist her in breaking down whole animals at The Sundry, Anderson is now working on a pickling and preserving program to keep her in produce through the winter months.

“I love starting my day in the garden next door,” she says. “Right now, I am picking okra, sunflowers, zucchini, mung beans, and I am looking forward to participating in what they will be planting for next season, as I am hoping to help shape what they are growing to things we use, or would like to use, in the restaurant.”

Chef Kara has been tweaking the existing menu and has already added a crispy chicken sandwich and a roasted eggplant tartine to the lunch and dinner menu. She's also added a fresh corn polenta and sorghum pecan sticky buns to the weekend brunch menu. The Sundry's happy hour charcuterie board features Berkshire pork from Of The Earth Farm, in addition to seasonally rotating from-scratch pastries and breads.

Next up, Anderson is planning a full seasonal menu change for late September, which will also include new weekly family-style dinner menus. Keep an eye on The Sundry's social media pages for details and updates.

The Sundry, 300 E. 39th St., Kansas City, Missouri, 816.844.7878, thesundry.com

Jenny is Feast's contributing editor for Kansas City. She brakes for chef's coats.

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