The first time Kasim Hardaway considered opening a restaurant was about a year and a half ago, named Food for Joyce in honor of his grandmother.
“I naively did not realize how much went into creating a restaurant, from operations to the development of the menu to the marketing to the accounting,” he says. “I soon realized that I could not do that restaurant concept how I wanted it to be at the level of quality I wanted it to be at that time.”
Then, earlier this year, he was approached by the Goebel family (who also own and operate Kansas City’s Pie Fives) to collaborate on an idea for a new restaurant—now known as Cultivare.
“I was approached with a unique opportunity to join this concept at its first step,” Hardaway says. “There wasn’t a name, there wasn’t anything to it. They just had this vision for a fast, casual grain bowls and salad concept.”
His love of food can be traced to some of his earliest memories in the kitchen, making pies and different dishes with his grandmother for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but it didn’t become part of his career until about four years ago when he started a recipe-based food blog.
“I like to label myself ‘food-preneur,’” Hardaway says. “This person that’s involved with all these food things, whether it be recipe development or marketing. But it definitely wasn’t my intention to become this. I think it was just something where I was really passionate about food, and I was able to find a way to build that into my professional career.”
He describes Cultivare’s menu as health forward, but not health focused.
“Whenever I was creating the menu, I didn’t want to be restrictive and say, ‘No, we’re not doing that because it’s not healthy or that’s too fattening,’” he says. “I really wanted to create menu items that were really well-balanced but also really flavorful and use fresh, locally grown produce where we can.”
He acknowledges that while a salad and grain bowl concept is certainly not new to Kansas City, Cultivare’s food offerings are adventurous.
“I think that it’ll be a very cool spot to go to for a really different salad, that’s not different to the point that it’s like, ‘Oh my god, this is so exotic, I don’t know what it is,’” he says, “but reimagining flavors that already exist and putting those into salad form or putting those into grain bowl form.”
One of his favorite menu items is the everything bagel salad, which was inspired by a recipe from food blogger Molly Yeh. He wanted to create a lighter version to fit Cultivare’s aesthetic which includes house-made everything bagel seasoning, cream cheese and dill dressing topped with Meshuggah bagels transformed into croutons. In addition to the set menu items, they plan to work with local chefs to create limited-time offerings, like a dressing or salad.
When asked what he loves about food, Hardaway says it’s something that surpasses language, culture and connects people where other things can’t. “I just love the idea of curating a menu, curating a theme, curating a space and then inviting people into that environment—having them see the space, eat the food, get all the vibes and creating an experience.”
1/2 cup dried culinary lavender flowers
1/2 cup agave
1 cup lemon juice
Bring two cups of water to a boil and pour over lavender flowers, allow to steep for 20-25 minutes.
Strain liquid to remove lavender flowers. Pour liquid into a sauce pan and warm over low to medium heat.
Add in agave and stir. Allow to sit for 3-5 minutes until agave has completely dissolved. Cool for 20-25 minutes.
Pour liquid into pitcher along with lemon juice, then add 5 cups of water.
Modify flavor by adding more of the lavender/agave mixture to increase sweetness or more water to decrease sweetness.
Serve in glass with ice.
For extra pizazz, garnish with flowering lavender.
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons agave
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
Add all ingredients to food processor or blender, excluding evoo.
As the added ingredients are processed slowly, add in evoo.
(If you don’t have a food processor or blender, finely chop the shallot and whisk all other ingredients, excluding olive oil, by hand. Slowly add the olive oil and whisk vigorously.)
2 pounds red tomatoes, cut into small wedges
5 cups of ciabatta*, cubed
½ cup mozzarella pearls
½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup roasted red pepper, sliced into strips
1 tablespoon drained capers
extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
*ciabatta can be substituted with french bread or any hard crust bread
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, drizzle bread with ⅓ to ¼ cup of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss well, ensuring all pieces are well oiled and coated.
Place bread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 5 to 7 minutes. Allow to cool.
While bread is cooling, place tomatoes, red onion, roasted red pepper, capers and mozzarella pearls in a large bowl. Drizzle in desired amount of champagne vinaigrette and toss. Add in bread, then toss again.
Transfer to a serving dish, then garnish with microgreens* and finish with a teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper.
If you don’t have access to microgreens, fresh parsley or basil is a great substitution. Slice selected herb into ribbons then sprinkle over salad.