From newsrooms to kitchens, Dave Eckert's journey through television news and culinary exploration has been nothing short of remarkable. A distinguished journalist and award-winning TV personality, Eckert's passion for all things culinary started during his time as a news journalist for KMBC-TV from 1989 to 1994, where he won two regional Emmys.
As he co-anchored the 5:00 news and reported for the 10:00 news, Eckert found a love for the local food and wine scene. His exposure to barbecue, coverage of The American Royal, and encounters with pitmasters and champions ignited a deeper appreciation for culinary craftsmanship. Key figures such as Steve Cole, Charlene Welling, Stephen Molloy, and John Martellaro became pivotal in shaping his culinary trajectory. Doug Frost, George Vessel, Ed "Gomer" Moody, Steve Thomson and others paved the way for an in-depth understanding of the flavors and varietals of wines.
In Chicago as an anchor and reporter at WGN-TV, Eckert's commitment to culinary storytelling reached new heights with "What's Cookin' Chicago." Unlike traditional restaurant reviews, his segment delved into the heart of the Chicago food and wine scene, showing viewers a glimpse into the lives and stories behind the food.
After some serious news burnout, Eckert decided to create his own show called Culinary Travels with Dave Eckert.
“I decided to combine my friendships, contacts, passion, love of food and wine, television training and background to create something that, to my knowledge, had never been done—a food, wine and travel show that took people to the source of the indigenous and delicious the world over,” says Eckert. “Culinary Travels with Dave Eckert was born! Aside from my wife of nearly 40 years and our two children, Conor and Fiona, Culinary Travels is my proudest achievement, with 275 half-hour episodes on six continents produced, directed, written, and hosted by me!
“Locally, I write articles on food and beverages for Kansas City Homes and Style Magazine, which often feature local restaurants, chefs, and cuisine. I also host a monthly dinner at a locally-owned, chef-driven restaurant called Dave’s Dine-Arounds. We keep them very affordable at $40 or $45 dollars, with $5 of each ticket going to a local charity of the restaurant’s choosing. People can learn more about those by visiting Dave’s Dine-Arounds on Facebook.”
Eckert has shaped the way we perceive and engage with cuisine, bringing flavors and cultures from around the world to our screens.
“I love great food, awesome local restaurants, and the amazing people who dedicate their lives to providing the experience they provide. I'm proud to call many area chefs and restaurateurs my friends, and proud to have come to know and feature others around the country and the world. But, I'm equally pleased to have turned the spotlight on so many other individuals and products that comprise the world’s complex and delicious food and beverage network, including winemakers in California, Oregon, Washington, Chile, Argentina, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia, and New Zealand—spirits producers in Kentucky and Scotland, pistachios and raisins from California, Idaho potatoes, mussel and salmon farmers in New Zealand, sake from Japan, street food in Thailand, and on and on!
“I've drunk wine made from the same native grapes planted in the same vineyards inside Pompeii once buried by Mount Vesuvius before being researched, replanted, and resurrected by a local winery. I've hiked up the side of a mountain in Maui to taste and film a strawberry patch, watched a local grower take a huge bite out of a raw Maui onion and emerge with a huge smile on his face, and had one of the best meals of my life at Mama's Fish House on Maui—to witness the devastation there breaks my heart.
“I've filmed and eaten in the kitchens of world-famous three-star restaurants, fished for salmon with superstar chef, Michael Mina, drunk wine with Robert Mondavi and Michel Chapoutier, and listened to Booker Noe play the jug with a band at a private party at his Kentucky home just a stone’s throw from the Jim Beam distillery. They are all memories I cherish, but no more than the meal of curry crab legs in a floating restaurant in a lagoon in Phuket, the raw mussel I ate like an oyster outside Marlborough, or the first time I tried haggis in the Scottish Highlands.
Eckert's recent venture, KC Foodie Fest, shows his dedication to celebrating artisanal food and beverage producers. A unique event uniting the metro's finest culinary creators, the festival promises a dynamic blend of tastings, live music, demonstrations, and immersive experiences.
“KC Foodie Fest is the culmination of a 30-year plus love affair with artisanal food and beverage producers. We are gathering a collection of the finest in the metro all in one location where people can sample and purchase hundreds of locally-made products. It’s not just a shopping or culinary excursion, it’s a full-on party!”
KC Foodie Fest is on October 7th at the ASPIRIA Campus in Overland Park. For more information, visit kcfoodiefest.com.