When she was eight years old, Nichole Conard?s grandparents gave her the gift of a camera. Since that day, she?s seen the world through the eye of her camera lens. She worked for other photography companies, earning promotions and publication, before she finally realized her dream of opening her own studio, RedRock Photography. When the business grew too big for Nichole to handle alone, she turned to her sister-in-law, Jennifer Baldwin. A passionate shutterbug and photojournalist, Jennifer joined the company as a co-owner and photographer. Today, Nichole focuses on the studio's Wichita branch while Jennifer maintains the Emporia branch.
Today, the sisters-in-law are busy shooting all types of portraits. Nichole has amassed more than 20 years of professional portrait experience, and Jennifer?s been shooting professionally for six years, allowing them to draw from a wealth of experience as they capture family photos, maternity shots, and one-person portraits, as well as their specialty: children?s photography. Sessions at their studio are private and unrushed, and outdoor shoots capture images in a single natural background. During Cruise sessions, the photographer and subject travel around, stopping to take photographs with unique locations, striking landscapes, or curiously grinning cats.
Ray Lamar hasn't spent decades perfecting his donuts. In fact, his namesake shops still use the same recipes that Ray developed in 1933—at the age of 17—when he got his first job working a donut fryer. World War II and a postwar career as a stockbroker interrupted Ray's donut-making pursuits, although he returned to his roots in 1960 when he founded the first LaMar's Donuts.
The shop went on to become a Kansas City icon, with crowds arriving well before 6 a.m. to line up outside the doors and taunt the roosters for sleeping in. Ray and his wife, Shannon, eventually decided to expand their business into a regional empire, and LaMar's Donuts currently boasts 27 franchised stores spread across six states.
Even with all of this growth, decades-old traditions still dictate how things are done. The workers prepare more than 75 different kinds of donuts, hand-making fresh batches of perennial favorites as well as recent inventions each and every morning. In addition to the original glazed creation that dates back to 1933, the menus can feature a variety of cake donuts with flavors such as red velvet, apple spice, and maple.
Since donuts and coffee go together as naturally as paper shredders and subpar report cards, the stores also prepare cappuccinos, mochas, and other coffee drinks. These are all made with handpicked beans that slowly roast inside Italian brick ovens.
After a trip to South America, restaurateur Sam Silvio was smitten with the desire to open his own churrascaria and began drawing up plans to that end with fellow restaurateur and brother Nick Silvio. Em Chamas sprang from this endeavor and now stands ready to dazzle diners with a continuous procession of meats grilled and skewered gaucho style. For a churrascaria experience at home, the restaurant packs and ships many of its authentic meats to doorsteps throughout the country. Family grill masters can dress up backyard barbecues with the gourmet flavors of Certified Angus Beef Pichana steaks and signature Brazilian linguica, while family sword masters can play passadore with something other than a prized teddy bear, for a change.
At the restaurant, two-course excursions begin with a trip to the gourmet buffet bar, where visitors sift through more than 30 culinary presentations including Brazilian and American fare, seafood dishes, and salads. Once guests flip their table's coin to the "bring it" side, passadores begin dancing out with various cuts of wood-fired meat?including top sirloin stuffed with provolone, bacon-wrapped chicken, Brazilian pork sausage, and caramelized pit ham?which they hand carve according to each eater's specified knife angle. To indicate satiation, diners simply flip the coin over or rip their napkin into the shape of a stop sign.
The pit masters at Boss Hawg’s Barbeque & Catering Co, voted as having the Best Barbecue by Kansas Best 150 and continually proclaimed as having the Best Barbecue in Topeka by the Topeka Capital-Journal, have slowly smoked succulent meats over native hardwoods and charcoal for more than 15 years. Beginning as a one-woman catering business in the owner’s home kitchen, the eatery has grown into a 50-employee operation that serves more than 150,000 meals each year in a town of just 120,000 residents and only 100 forks. Each day, the cooks prepare picnic-style sides from scratch, boiling fresh potatoes before transforming them into salads and steak fries. To lock in moisture and flavor, the meat in the owner's preferred dish—the Elizabeth’s Favorite barbecued-chicken dinner—is served with its skin on, next to a cool scoop of coleslaw. The American Royal combo, a quarter-rack of ribs and quarter-pound of shredded meat or smoked sausage, comes with corn bread slathered in fresh honey butter and the imperial authority to declare Canada a fiefdom. When not dropping into the dining room for a casual dinner, barbecue lovers can place catering orders or book banquet meals in a private room that accommodates up to 100 guests.
The professional pilots at Timberview Helicopters ferry passengers high into the clouds aboard a sky-scraping whirlybird during flight tours through Destin, Kansas City, and Key West. Having chartered flights for National Geographic and the Travel Channel, these pilots expertly navigate planes toward sweeping, picturesque views, allowing sightseers to steal glances of Fort Walton Beach, downtown Kansas City, and Key West's ocean views from a perspective normally reserved for birds and astronauts with binoculars. Additionally, their high-definition videos grant guests a lasting commemoration of their in-flight experience. When they're not chartering tours, they teach budding pilots the gravity-defying tricks of their trade through pilot training and lug precious shipments from port to port with their cargo-lifting services.
Even as they sliced fish ceviche and sizzled taquitos at La Parrilla, their popular Mexican restaurant, Alejandro Lule and Subarna Bhattachan often dreamed of opening a noodle house. Subarna longed for the plump momo dumplings and egg-noodle soups of his native Nepal, whereas Alejandro craved the Thai curries and Vietnamese pho he remembered from his years working in San Francisco. Combining their extensive culinary experience and shared ambition, the duo spearheaded Zen Zero, setting up shop directly across the street from La Parrilla.
Deep within Zen Zero’s kitchen, chefs fold fresh ingredients and spices into critically acclaimed dishes from countries across Asia and the Pacific Rim—from Thailand to Nepal and China. Their seafood, meat, and vegetable curries simmer, and pots of thai glass noodles, japanese udon, and vietnamese vermicelli bubble on stovetops. When discussing their cooking techniques with reporters from the Lawrence Journal-World, Subarna reported, “we use a lot of spice seeds: cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, cardamom pods.” These seeds add a distinctive concentrated flavor to their dishes, which servers carry with glasses of specialty cocktails and chilled sake through the dining room. Around them blown-glass lamps, wooden tables, and an absence of giant foam shrimp costumes create an elegant atmosphere.