Carl Thorne-Thomsen, Chef/Owner
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.
Jeff Thrall, General Manager
Jeff was born and raised in the Kansas City area and other than his college years in Springfield, Missouri studying Psychology at Missouri State University has always called Kansas City home. Jeff has been in the restaurant business for 20 years and joined the team at Story in April of 2012 as General Manager and Sommelier. He achieved his first level accreditation from the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2008.
Jeff was honored by the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association as Manager of the Year for 2015.
THOMAS PELKEY, SOUS CHEF
Thomas, born and raised in Minnesota, came to Kansas City to attend the culinary program at the Art Institutes International. While still in school he began working at Story as a line cook. After graduating, he moved to New York City where he gained experience while working in such restaurants as Marea, Nomad, and Le Bernardin. Upon returning to Kansas City in 2013, he accepted the Sous Chef position at Story.
Thomas was honored by the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association as BOH Workhorse of the Year for 2016.
ELIZABETH PARADISE, PASTRY CHEF
Elizabeth was born and raised in the Kansas City area. She briefly studied both architecture and social work before her interest in baking led her to the French Pastry School in Chicago. Upon completion of the L’Art de la Pâtisserie program, she traveled to New York City, working at Del Posto and Colicchio & Sons before joining the opening team at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen. She continued to grow her career at Momofuku Milk Bar, The Meatball Shop, Marlow & Sons and Diner.
Elizabeth returned home to Kansas City in 2013, and is thrilled to be the pastry chef at Story. She was a participant in CCVI’s Food Fight VI in 2015, where she won the evening’s “quickfire” culinary competition: decorating a cake… while blindfolded.