Chelsa B, Max Wellman at Hoyt Sherman, Farmhouse Favorite
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May 11, 2021  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
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This focaccia from Bread by Chelsa B popped out to dsm contributor Karla Walsh, who says it is "glorious."


Writer: Karla Walsh

Carbs have been getting a bad rap ever since the keto diet skyrocketed to popularity (it was officially named the most popular diet of 2020)and even long before that, actually (remember Atkins?!). But I would go to battle to defend bread, pizza and cookies as a worthy and a important food group. Hey, science bears this out: Your brain needs carbohydrates to thrive!

So I was delighted to see a wide variety of cottage bakers—in other words, business owners who whip up baked goods in their own homes—pop up during the pandemic. And I rushed to order from Chelsea Smith’s Bread by Chelsa B (her name is pronounced "Chels-uh," hence the different spelling of the business) once I spotted her glorious focaccia on Instagram.

To create her signature bubbly, flaky, sea salt-adorned focaccia, fruit and herb breakfast bread, sourdough, babka-like sweet rolls and more, Smith starts with some sourdough starter, plus flour from Breadtopia in Fairfield or from Early Morning Harvest in Panora. Keeping ingredients as local as possible is a priority for Smith, and she sources nearly everything she uses—including spices, honey, eggs and herbs—from nearby farms.

Based on my taste tests, I’d guess Smith is classically trained or naturally gifted. But she says she learned her craft through research on the internet, in cookbooks and on Instagram, and her business officially launched just five months ago. It’s clearly booming, as she recently made the transition to baking full time, has signed on for several local farmers markets, and will be part of a pop-up at DreiBerge Coffee (111 E Grand Ave, #109) on May 16.

“Everything I bake is made in small batches and mixed by hand. I strive for consistency and beauty in my bread, but sometimes there are flaws,” Smith says. “I promise despite the slight outward flaws, my bread tastes good. Really, really good. I don’t bake anything that doesn’t bring me joy."

Discover more about Bread by Chelsa B on Instagram at @breadbychelsab and preorder your goodies at
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    Vocalist Max Wellman's "Back in Business" concert will feature an 18-piece big band as well as performers from around the country.


    Writer: Christine Riccelli

    Well-known vocalist Max Wellman says he feels fortunate that Noce, his downtown jazz club, has been able to stay open during the past year, even if it has been forced to operate at 30% capacity. Still, “there’s a big difference between performing for 30 people and 600 people,” he says. “It’s hard to anticipate what it will feel like to again be in front of a big crowd and onstage with 20 musicians.”

    He’ll find out soon enough when he stages “Back in Business” at Hoyt Sherman Place on July 30. The concert will star Wellman and an 18-piece big band led by composer and pianist Nate Sparks and featuring some of the region’s top jazz musicians. In addition, Wellman is bringing together some of his favorite collaborators from around the country, such as Los Angeles-based vocalist Rose Colella and New York-based bassist Hannah Marks, as well as local vocalists Tina Haase Findlay and Gina Gedler.

    The performers will focus on jazz and cabaret standards. “It will be a classic kind of big-band variety show ... mixed with Broadway," Wellman says.

    Wellman also views the concert as a way to kick off the next chapter of the local arts community as it seeks to move forward from the pandemic. “There’s just a lot of pent-up energy right now,” he says. Hence, the show’s title “Back in Business,” a song Liza Minnelli made famous in 1992 on her return to Radio City Music Hall. The title also refers to the fact Wellman originally had planned to return to Hoyt Sherman in 2020 to mark 10 years since his sold-out performance there in 2010, when he was just 19.

    The show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35 general admission or $65 VIP and are available starting today through, in person at the Hoyt Sherman box office or by phone at 800-982-2787. Capacity in the 1,200-seat theater will be limited to half, or 600. Patrons also may be required to observe other health and safety measures, such as wearing a mask.


      This new build in Ankeny’s Prairie Trail features some of the tenets of popular farmhouse style—lots of white, rustic wood accents, shiplap and black window trim. Built by Sage Homes, the six-bedroom home is appointed with special details like window seats, a vaulted ceiling, a private laundry room and a hidden pantry.

      Marvin doors in the dining and living room are fully retractable to access the covered porch for optimal outdoor living. The finished basement offers bonus entertaining space with a full bar and a built-in playhouse.

      This project was an entry to dsm’s inaugural Home Design Awards, announced March 9. See the winning projects at

      Spacious new townhomes and apartments put you in the heart of Des Moines’ iconic Beaverdale neighborhood, less than a block from locally-owned shopping, dining and services... Read more »
      A tricycle, angel wings, no clothes: There's nothing quite like "UpDown," who spent years at Merle Hay Mall and then in a private backyard on Des Moines' east side.  


      We always enjoy hearing from readers about the stories they like. For us at dsm, the response to this one stands out above all others—on a level as unusual as the notion of a naked, slack-jawed angel riding a tricycle.

      We have poured our editorial hearts into stories of more significance. We have agonized over details that should matter. We hope somebody cared. But here’s what we know: You readers loved, loved learning the fate of the peculiar figure who pedaled earnestly but motionless for decades at Merle Hay Mall. With wings. Without clothes.

      Called “UpDown,” the guy with his mouth agape was popular with most shoppers and a source of fascination for their kids—until new management booted his naked booty out 20 years ago. Renamed “Merle” by his new owner and one-shot art collector Jerri Scott, he landed in her east-side backyard, poised just a pedal or two from her driveway.

      And now he’s on the move again. The 72-year-old Scott recently told us that she has donated him to the city of Johnston. Although she says she loved meeting the countless number of people who stopped by to see Merle over the past two decades, she decided it was time to downsize and find him a new home.

      Specifically, he’ll be winging his way to the east side of Johnston’s City Hall, at the head of the new recreational trail. The whimsical work will be unveiled this Saturday during the Mayor’s Annual Bike Ride. (Appropriate, no?) The ceremony begins at 11:45 a.m.

      Scott plans to be there, of course. It’s “the perfect time to send him flying off to a new home in a new outdoor public venue, accessible to all,” she told us. “He’ll be secure for decades, gaining new admirers … while I get to play along with everyone else. All in all, I am grateful and joyful.”
        Joseph Jones, left, at Kathmandu Restaurant in Windsor Heights, which serves Nepali and Indian fare, one of his recommendations at our first-ever Inclusion virtual event last week.


        Last week, we hosted our first dsm Inclusion: Discover Diverse Des Moines virtual event, asking community leaders where they go to experience diversity in Greater Des Moines. Here are a few fun and somewhat unexpected spots they told us about.

        Give. Gifts With Intention:
        This female-owned business in West Des Moines, which started as a pop-up shop in a basement just a few years ago, sells all kinds of gifts, including jewelry, books, furniture and more. A percentage of its sales goes toward local charities. "It is one of my favorite shops," said Marta Codina, region bank president with Wells Fargo and a panelist at the event. "For me, when I was growing up, gift giving was big in my family. Not big gifts, just meaningful gifts. That's what I find when I go to Give."

        Harmony Park: If you're itching to make some music, Harmony Park in Windsor Heights is the place to be. It features instruments that anyone can play. Panelist Joseph Jones, director at Drake University's Harkin Institute and a City Council member in Windsor Heights, says the park is "an inclusive environment. We wanted our city to have something there where we could meet the developmental, emotional and social needs of children, regardless of physical ability."

        C Fresh Market: This grocery store is stocked with international foods and was named the "Best Independent Grocery Store in Iowa" by USA Today in 2019. There's also a restaurant inside, if you want to try some of the fare for yourself. Panelist Lauren Patrick, a dentist with University Dental Group, said, "I love that they have amazing produce. ... I love just going there and trying things I never have before."

        To see all the locations our panelists suggested, watch the full replay or clips from the event here.
          The Des Moines Symphony's Water Works Pops will be back in 2021, kicking off Sept. 4 at the Lauridsen Amphitheater. Photo: Des Moines Symphony


          The Des Moines Symphony has announced it will have both in-person and virtual concerts for summer and fall 2021. Here are the highlights.

          Yankee Doodle Pops: The annual Fourth of July show will be virtual this year and will be broadcast on Iowa PBS and Iowa Public Radio at 8:30 p.m. on July 2. The symphony will play some classics, like "1812 Overture" and "Stars and Stripes Forever." Broadway’s Hugh Panaro ("Phantom of the Opera") will join, singing selections from "Les Miserables," "The Music Man" and more.

          Water Works Pops: The second season of Water Works Pops takes place on Sept. 4 and Sept. 5. At 7:30 p.m. Sept. 4, Broadway star Capathia Jenkins and three-time Grammy nominee Ryan Shaw will come together to perform "Aretha: A Tribute," honoring the late Aretha Franklin.

          The symphony will take the stage again at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 5 with a celebration of film composer John Williams, performing songs from "Star Wars," "Harry Potter" and more. Both shows are free and open to the public. Detailed guidelines, including distancing, masking requirements and capacity limits, will be announced later in the summer.
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