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Kansas City chef Michael Smith realized 'there was a bigger world' through food

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Exterior shot looking down the side of building.  Street level is all large glass panes, above are several courses of dark grey brick with the words Ristorante and Oyster Bar applied and above that is the remainder of the building which is red brick.  On the sidewalk are three tables spaced out along its length, each with place settings for four diners.
Farina with permission
The Farina restaurant is the latest in dining spots run by chef Michael Smith who was inspired by a trip to Italy.

Michael Smith's path from a childhood in Texas to award-winning Kansas City chef and restauranteur had stops in France, Italy and cities across America.

Michael Smith discovered he liked to cook at an early age while growing up in Texas with his mother and sister.

"We just didn't always have a lot to eat around the house. And so I wanted to be in the restaurant business in a way because I wanted to always have food," he recalled.

Combine that with a willingness to try unfamiliar dishes and a future James Beard award-winning chef was in the making. But completing that process would take time.

Smith recalled the years after college that saw him go from restaurants in Colorado to moving his family to France for two years to work with his mentor in exchange for room and board.

Then it was back to America for a few years in Chicago before becoming executive chef at The American Restaurant in Kansas City in 1994.

The rest is restaurant history in this town. Chef Smith would eventually transition from French to Italian cooking with his most current restaurant, Farina, and has called Kansas City home for almost 30 years. Over time he noted, "It became a really, really, truly special place to live."

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