Carl Thorne-Thomsen

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Chef Carl Thorne-Thomsen grew up in Connecticut and graduated from Cornell University with a degree in English Literature. He lived on the east coast until the mid-nineties, when he moved to Wichita, Kansas, to attend the Masters of Fine Arts program in creative writing at Wichita State University. Ultimately his desire to write was replaced by a passion for food. He taught himself enough about cooking to land a kitchen job at a small gourmet food store/cafe/espresso bar. There he met his future wife Susan, one of the owners. After three years, the couple moved to Kansas City and started a family. Thorne-Thomsen worked as a line cook at the popular Leawood restaurant, 40 Sardines. In 2007, when Chef Michael Smith opened Michael Smith Restaurant in the Crossroads, Smith hired Thorne-Thomsen to be chef de cuisine. When Smith opened his second restaurant, Extra Virgin, he again made Thorne-Thomsen chef de cuisine. He held both positions simultaneously for two years. Thorne-Thomsen started actively working on the concept for Story in December of 2009. In August of 2010, Susan found the Prairie Village location, and the time came to turn this “story” into a reality. The restaurant opened in May 2011, in The Village Shops at 3931 W. 69th Terrace in Prairie Village, KS.
There is, of course, a story behind the name “Story”. It revolves around three themes that are a part of Thorne-Thomsen’s beliefs. “The name story is meant to signify that I’m a chef inspired and motivated by ingredients. I try to source ingredients carefully, locally when I can, but whether local or not, I always try to find the best, freshest, most interesting. Inevitably, the more time I spend looking for and learning about ingredients, the more I wind up knowing about them — where they are grown, pastured, fished, etc. Frequently my imagination goes to work on those details and projects or produces a landscape or seascape, people at work in it — a “story” of sorts about or behind a particular ingredient begins to shape itself in my mind. The name also refers to the “story” behind any given dish on the menu, why certain items are paired or not, where the idea came from or how it evolved. Lastly “story” refers to the meal itself, the diner’s experience. Is it a special occasion, an anniversary or birthday for instance; is that the “story”? Is it friends in town, a first date etc. Sometimes, if the food, service and atmosphere are good, then the experience itself is the story.”
Story opened in May 2011 and is Wine Spectator “Best of Award of Excellence” recipient and was named to OpenTable’s list of top 100 American fare restaurants in the United States. Carl Thorne-Thomsen is a 2013 James Beard semifinalist nominee for Best Chef Midwest and FOOD & WINE magazine’s 2013 winner for The People’s Best New Chef: Midwest and FOOD & WINE magazine’s 2014 winner for the People’s Best New Chef: National.

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