When food and hospitality are your passion, you find a way to serve others even during a shutdown. Chef Kyle and Hannah Williams of Leawood swiveled their successful culinary creation, Savor & Swirl, into a secondary business suitable for quarantines. Instead of their usual curated cuisine such as chateaubriand, imported French truffles or fresh Maine lobsters, their new SavorToGo (STG) features weekday comfort food. Think tender, braised chicken with fresh seasonal veggies or smoky barbecue, burnt ends, slow-cooked kettle beans, creamy mac-&-cheese, and fresh-from-scratch strawberry shortcake. It’s door-delivered with an affordable bottle of wine and a suggested music playlist, and it’s all chef-inspired but designed to pair well with sweatpants.
“People have been stuck at home with restaurants closed, and we wanted to help our customers and take at least one meal off their hands,” says Kyle, a classically trained professional chef for 20 years.
Hannah adds that SavorToGo meals are “family-friendly and approachable so everyone can enjoy eating at home together.”
Whether describing SavorToGo or hinting about their upcoming fall reveals for Savor & Swirl, Kyle and Hannah bring a contagious enthusiasm to their collaboration. They’re determined to create the ultimate delectable and unforgettable experience for their guests, drawing on Chef Kyle’s drive to pair extraordinary fare with great wine and Hannah’s passion to garnish guests with hospitality over memorable settings.
“We love hosting and setting the tone for people to relax, enjoy a fun and exquisite experience, and make our guests feel honored and comfortable,” Hannah says.
These former teenage sweethearts are clearly still besties after meeting at church, marrying 14 years ago, traveling the world and then returning to their KC roots to raise their daughters, Vivienne, 8, and Coco, 6. As founders of Savor & Swirl since 2019, the creative partners love working together to execute a vision. Hannah focuses on front-of-house (décor, lighting, floor arrangements, table setups, emails/payments) while Kyle prepares menus, sources and pairs food and wines, and puts his European-honed culinary skills to local use.
The fuel beneath Chef Kyle’s rise first ignited when he was a student at Raytown High. A culinary school representative visited, and in that moment, Kyle knew he wanted to become a chef. He went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in culinary nutrition from Johnson & Wales, Providence, R.I., and earned his grill stripes and pastry stars in numerous kitchens across Italy, Hawaii, and New York City, where he studied under celebrity chefs Todd English, David Burke and Daniel Boulud. In 2014, the Williams family moved back to KC because Hannah, from Lee’s Summit, was expecting their second child, and they wanted to raise their children back home. (Although later that year, Kyle did return to NYC to compete on “Beat Bobby Flay,” preparing ricotta chorizo quail egg bruschetta.)
For the past six years, Kyle has been the chef at the Blue Cross Blue Shield café downtown, serving hundreds of employees. When offices closed for the pandemic, Kyle pitched the idea to management to partner with House of Hope KC, delivering 800 meals a week to shelters, first responders and the impoverished, totaling 14,000 meals to date. (Savor & Swirl also donates part of ticket sales to Hillcrest Transitional Housing, a local nonprofit that combats homelessness.)
“We’re not an elitist club,” he adds. “I mean, we have menus that rival some of the best dining all over the world, but it’s not to be pretentious or exclusive. It’s just that these ingredients and wines are unique, special and delicious. We like sharing things we love.”
Their current passion is to bring the Speakeasy-style pop-ups they enjoyed in NYC to a KC audience. (Think secret locations, maybe entering through a phone booth where you make a call, give a secret password and gain passage into an establishment loaded with history.)
“Kansas City has similar history, still with tunnels here, going back to Tom Pendergast (the unelected machine boss during Prohibition),” Kyle says. “We love that vintage mystique experience that’s exciting and mysterious.”
Last fall, Savor & Swirl rented a commercial rooftop overlooking the downtown Kansas City sunset skyline. They’ve also rented beautiful event spaces, adding tables, fine linens and music to evoke opening night of a restaurant you’ve never been to before and won’t ever again because it closes that night, and the next pop-up will be completely different.
All pop-ups have limited seating to promote conversation and deepen friendships. Kyle provides education about menu sources or vineyard histories—often traced to the Middle Ages—with details on cellars and chateaux, castles and vintners, soil and climate.
“People come in with people they know or sit down with people they don’t and create new relationships,” Kyle says. “Something special always happens at an actual table, and it happens all over the world with family and friends building relationships, whether it’s an engagement, a business meeting, or people reuniting after 20 years. People always meet at a restaurant, and I think there’s so much value in that. You walk in and everything is going well. The servers are ready, the manager’s there, the chefs are in the kitchen, the tables are clean, the temperature’s right, the food and wine are right, everything is ALL right. That’s what we want to put out there. That’s our heart behind Savor & Swirl.”
“Back in time, restaurants and inns were for travelers who were cold and hungry, or hot and thirsty. A fire was going in the hearth to warm them and welcome them with food and drink to nourish their bodies but also nourish their souls. When you leave our dinners, you feel uplifted—your soul feels better. With all the negativity going on, we just want to be that haven for people.” —Kyle and Hannah Williams
Instagram: @savorandswirl, #savorandswirl, #foodandwinepopupkc
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