Open Belly Podcast
In just two months during the summer of 2018, the world lost arguably the two greatest culinary storytellers: TV host Anthony Bourdain and famed Los Angeles critic Jonathan Gold.
In response, Danielle Lehman wanted to do…something.
Lehman is a native of Hutchinson, Kansas, northwest of Wichita. Before coming to Kansas City in 2013, she lived in LA for a decade and developed a passion for worldly foods. She decided to launch a podcast informed by the open-minded spirit of exploration championed by Bourdain and Gold.
Thus, Open Belly was born, focusing on Kansas City immigrant-run restaurants like Fannie’s, a West African restaurant on Troost, and KC Pinoy, a Filipino restaurant in the Stockyards District. In each episode, Lehman dives deep into the culture and history of the cuisine of her guests, allowing them to take listeners around the world.
“I had no idea if anyone would even tune in except for my mom and husband,” she says. “Thankfully many people have, and the best part of the experience is hearing people brag about how many Open Belly restaurants they’ve visited and how many new cuisines they’ve tried. It feels like I’m making a difference in the community, even in a very small way.”
Lehman is now getting a bigger stage, as her sponsor has asked her to go to New York City for a second season, which will premiere in September.
“New York just made sense because so many immigrant journeys started there,” she says.
Although she’s going to the Big Apple to record, she’s also hoping to be a good ambassador for Kansas City food on the coasts.
“Kansas City is still so under the radar, and it doesn’t get the credit it deserves from the larger coastal cities,” she says. “We’re not just barbecue and meat and potatoes — we have a culturally rich and vibrant city with phenomenal restaurants.”