The Pitch Questionnaire with VisitKC's Derek Klaus

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Name: Derek Klaus

Occupation: Senior communications manager for @VisitKC, helping earn national publicity for KC from the likes of the Today show, The New York Times, X Factor and Travel + Leisure.

Hometown:
Wichita, Kansas

Current neighborhood: Merriam

Who or what is your sidekick? It's a close tie between iced coffee and Swedish Fish.

What career would you choose in an alternate reality? Press secretary for the White House. Chalk it up to Aaron Sorkin and C.J. Cregg if you want, but I've always found that position to be incredibly fascinating.

What was the last local restaurant you patronized? Gram & Dun. The sweet-tea pork shoulder is one of my new favorite entrées in the city.

Where do you drink? Beer Kitchen and Manifesto are two of my favorites to start a night out. But sometimes life calls for a good dive bar - the Keyhole in Mission and Red Balloon never disappoint in that arena.

What's your favorite charity? Locally, I'm fond of Children's Mercy. I was lucky enough to volunteer there for a while, and they do amazing work.

Favorite place to spend your paycheck: A good sushi joint. Domo in Brookside is very good, but I also like Sakura in Shawnee for its legendary sushi train.

Where do you like to take out-of-town guests? City Market, the National World War I Museum and Succotash are three personal staples. I like my breakfast with a side of people-watching, and Succotash is always good for that. Plus, the food is outstanding no matter what time of day you go. Personally, I like the Monte Cristo and the peach pancakes.

Finish this sentence: "Other than the Kauffman Center, Kansas City got it right when …" We landed the All-Star Game and extended the Big 12 contract through 2016.

"Kansas City screwed up when it …" Didn't pass the rolling-roof bond issue for Arrowhead Stadium. I still have trouble swallowing the fact that we missed out on a Super Bowl.

"Kansas City needs …" More locals in its corner. We live in a vibrant, cosmopolitan city, and it's time we start telling the world about it. Adopting a Texas-style braggadocio will go a long way in correcting misconceptions about our fair city.

"People might be surprised to know that I …" Don't care for chocolate. This fact tends to upset or perplex people. Invite peanut butter to the party or I'm not coming.

"On my day off, I like to …" Travel. I'm lucky that my job takes me to some pretty cool places. But few compare with what we have here. The buzz and energy KC is putting off right now is quite incredible.

"In five years, I'll be …" A better cook, hopefully. I'm tired of cooking (and eating) like a bachelor. Luckily, our restaurant scene never leaves me hungry.

What TV show do you make sure you watch? The West Wing and Lost ("Walt!") are both on regular rotation at my house. But if we're talking new shows, I try to never miss The Walking Dead and Homeland.

____ take up a lot of space in my iTunes: Ray LaMontagne, Journey, the Head and the Heart, Coldplay and Amos Lee

What movie do you watch at least once a year? Young Frankenstein. Mel Brooks is a genius - it's surprising to me how many people still haven't seen it yet. Pure masterpiece. ("There, wolf. There, castle.")

What local tradition do you take part in every year? KC Restaurant Week. It's a good opportunity to revisit places I love but can't afford regularly.

Celebrity you'd like to ride the Mamba with at Worlds of Fun: Tina Fey

Favorite person or thing to follow on Twitter: I check in with #KC once a day for a quick lowdown of what's going on the city. @kcwineguy is a wealth of information, too.

Person or thing you find really irritating at this moment: Lindsay Lohan

What subscription - print, digital, etc. - do you value most? Another one from Twitter: @artofmanliness. They're always putting out useful stuff, like how to tie a bow tie or how much to tip your tow-truck guy.

Last book you read: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I read everything Dave Eggers writes, but this is by far my favorite. It's moving, tragic and hilarious in one fell swoop. I recommend it to anyone who likes David Sedaris.

Favorite day trip: Lawrence, Kansas. Rock Chalk!

What is your most embarrassing dating moment? Hmm … where to start? I was once on a blind date with a girl who stole knives from our dinner table … those giant ones they have at steakhouses. She didn't laugh; she didn't say a word. She just took my knife and hers, carefully put them in her purse and went back to eating like nothing had happened. Needless to say, there was not a second date.

Describe a recent triumph: My favorite part of my job is surprising first-time visitors. Last year, we hosted one of the editors from Saveur, a very popular foodie magazine. He was astounded by what he found here … that we were so much beyond barbecue. Nine months later, Saveur went on the Today show to announce KC as "America's next culinary destination."

Follow Derek Klaus on Twitter @TheRealKlaus.
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