© 2022 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Arts & Life
KCUR's Gina Kaufmann brings you personal essays about how we're all adapting to a very different world.

Kansas City Celebrity Chefs Offer Up Mother's Day Brunch Recipes Anyone Can Make

Celina Tio_The Belfry_horizontal.jpg
Celina Tio
Celina Tio is a James Beard award-winning chef who runs The Belfry in Kansas City's Crossroads district. She's also a mom who's held her own on multiple reality food shows, so a mother's day victory is guaranteed with her french toast recipe.

The Mother's Day brunch scene isn't the same this year, but the matriarchs of Kansas City's brunch institutions have advice for recreating the specialness of the occasion at home.

With some counties in the metro slowly re-opening for business and others leaving stay-at-home orders in place for restaurants and bars at least, Mother's Day brunch hangs in the balance.

Even with curbside and delivery options up and running, the experience of brunch is an in-person affair. It's about holding court at a table set with flowers to enjoy mimosa service and fancy coffee drinks over an extracurricular meal, with no prospect of dishes on the horizon.

So we asked Kansas City people with professional brunch experience, who also happen to be moms, what's most important this unprecedented Mother's Day, and they all agree: it's giving moms a break.

"So much of our mental load is consumed with everyone else's needs and wants," says Keely Edgington Williams, co-owner of Julep, a boozy brunch spot in Westport.

Her first piece of advice is actually a plea. "Let her sleep in," says Williams, who suggests waiting until the mom-of-honor wakes, bringing her an Irish coffee (recipe below) and giving her time to savor it in bed, alone.

"It's a gift to focus solely on ourselves," Williams says.

With that in mind, if you must ask a mom how to make brunch, it's best to ask these moms, so the mom in the other room can enjoy her day without planning it, too.


A special drink can set the day apart. Here's one recipe without booze and another for moms who might appreciate a celebratory buzz.

Heirloom Bakery And Hearth_Kate Meinke.jpg
Heirloom Bakery And Hearth
Kate Meinke, co-owner and cookie curator at Heirloom Bakery and Hearth, recommends giving moms a little time alone for brunch this Mother's Day, with special coffee to let her know she's loved.

Kate Meinke
Heirloom Bakery And Hearth
Cafe Au Lait With Mother's Day Simple Syrup

Heirloom Bakery and Hearth in East Brookside is typically bustling on Sunday mornings, with lines out the door for fresh baked biscuits topped with eggs, made-from-scratch pop-tarts and espresso drinks. The morning hub is closed for now, with plans to re-open, on a date to be determined, after May 15.

Co-owner Kate Meinke shares her recipe for a simple syrup infused with herbs to dress up a cafe au lait, which is coffee with steamed milk.

Save the leftovers for cocktails later in the week.


  • 12 oz herb-infused syrup


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Several sprigs of your fresh herb of choice (ground spices can also be used, 1-4 teaspoons depending on the potency of the spice)


  • Combine water and sugar in a saucepan, turning stove to medium meat. If you’re using dried and ground spices, add them in at this time. Let the water boil until the sugar is completely dissolved and the water is crystal clear. This will only take a couple of minutes.
  • When water is clear, remove from heat and add fresh herbs. There is no need to chop the herbs or take them off the stem, just throw them in, stem and all.
  • Let sit for 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Remove herbs by hand or pour them through a sieve into a storage container. If ground spices have been used, give the container a good shake before you use the syrup. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Julep_Keely Edgington Williams.jpg
Ashley Elwell, threethreephotography
Keely Edgington Williams runs Julep in Westport with her husband, Beau. The bar is a popular brunch destination for Irish Coffee and botomless mimosas on Sundays.

Keely Edgington Williams
Julep Cocktail Club
Irish Coffee and Bottomless Mimosas

As the proprietor of a bar known for whiskey drinks, Keely Edgington Williams is serious about the beverages on Mother's Day.

"Go that extra mile for her," she says. "Squeeze that juice yourself."

Ideal bubbles to top off orange juice in a mimosa, according to Williams, won't be sweet or dry. She favors Cava.

But Williams also likes a good Irish coffee. Here's her recipe.


  • 1/2 ounce rich simple syrup (see instructions above, omitting herbs and spices and increasing the sugar content)
  • 1 ounce Irish whiskey
  • About 6 ounces of coffee (about a mug full)
  • Soft whipped cream


  • Mix liquids together and top with whipped cream. That's it!


Something to snack on while food preparations are under way never hurts. This cheese board can also be the main event in a pinch, especially when the greatest gift is no pots or pans to wash.

Green Dirt Farm_Natasha Bailey.jpg
Natasha Bailey is a personal chef, caterer and health coach in addition to her gig in marketing and sales at Green Dirt Farm. She currently oversees three children's remote schooling on the side.

Natasha Bailey
Green Dirt Farm
Midwestern Mother's Day Cheese Board

Natasha Bailey is the public face for Green Dirt Farm, a supplier of artisan cheese for a lot of local restaurants.

A restaurant-style cheese plate is an indulgence most of us haven't had lately, making it a real treat this Mother's Day. Bailey has a few pointers for making yours fancy.

What to include:
Four Cheeses

  • Use a variety of milks (cow, goat, sheep, water buffalo and camel are all possibilities, and including more than one will impress your audience).
  • Use one of each of the following textures. Soft: burrata, fresh cheese, brie, Humboldt Fog. Semi-soft: gorgonzola, chevre, stilton, fontina. Semi-hard: manchego, comte, swiss. Hard: cheddar, pecorino, tomme.

One or more of each of the following:

  • Fruits (fresh or dried): berries, blood oranges, apples, pears, golden raisins, orange peels (Andre's Confisserie Suisse in Kansas City has chocolate-covered orange peels), apricots, dried figs.
  • Nuts: almonds, pecans, cashews.
  • Pickled vegetables: pickled green beans (available from KC Canning Co), olives, pickled watermelon rind, pickled okra, pickled cauliflower, pickled peppers.
  • Spreads: mustard, honey, jam.
  • Garnishes: mints, rosemary, edible flowers, microgreens.


  • Try to find a wood, marble or slate board. Leaving the selected cheeses in their wrappers, get the "lay of the land" by experimenting with different arrangements.
  • Use cheese knives, if possible, one for each cheese.
  • Arrange everything else after the cheese has been placed.
  • Once you add the last garnish, step back and pat yourself on the back.

Main Course
If you're feeling ambitious, a James Beard Award-winning chef and reality food show champion shares her signature french toast recipe, and she swears it's not that hard to make.

Celina Tio_The Belfry_french toast.jpg
Celina Tio
The Belfry
This savory-and-sweet french toast would make your at-home Mother's Day brunch a real event.

Celina Tio
Chef/Owner, The Belfry
Bananas Foster French Toast

Celina Tio has only one rule for Mother's Day brunch, and that is to indulge, because moms deserve it.

"I am a total savory eater," Tio says. "If I eat something sweet, I immediately eat something salty."

She calls her famous bananas foster French toast "a compromise."

How do you make French toast anything but sweet? By putting it on rye or rosemary bread.

If you want the glory of presenting this dish but don't have the guts to try it alone, Bananas Foster French Toast is also on the Mother's Day brunch kit menu at The Belfry. The dish is pictured above, paired with the restaurant's Spring Belle Cocktail.


  • One loaf Ibis Bakery Rosemary Polenta bread
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 each bananas
  • 4 ounces Mellow Corn Whiskey (or any bourbon)
  • 3 ounces Brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil


  • Cut loaf into inch-thick slices. You should have about 8 slices (save the heels for dinner later or breakfast tomorrow).
  • Combine the next five ingredients in a mixing bowl, and then soak the slices of bread in the mixture.
  • If you’re feeling confident, cook the soaked slices in a pan while preparing the banana-bourbon topping using the steps listed below.
  • Heat canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat until it “dances” across the pan when shaken back and forth.
  • Add the bananas and brown sugar, stirring lightly to not break up the bananas.
  • Pull the pan off the heat and away from the flame and add the whiskey. Stand back in case it flames!
  • Put it back on the heat, adding the butter, and cook until the sugar has completely dissolved and the butter has melted.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with essential news and information.
Your donation today keeps local journalism strong.