Chow Town

Three KC chefs and a restaurant are chosen as James Beard semifinalists

Bluestem owners Megan and Colby Garrelts at their renovated Westport restaurant.
Bluestem owners Megan and Colby Garrelts at their renovated Westport restaurant. The Kansas City Star

Three Kansas City chefs and one restaurant have been named semifinalists in the 2015 James Beard awards.

The award — the equivalent of a culinary Oscar — will be presented in May at a 25th anniversary celebration in Chicago. Finalists will be announced March 24.

Kansas City semifinalists include:

Outstanding Restaurant: Bluestem

Chef Colby Garrelts won the Best Chef: Midwest in 2013, the same year he and his wife, Megan Garrelts, opened Rye, a more casual family-style restaurant in Leawood. Then the Garreltses turned around last year and renovated their Westport-based fine-dining gem Bluestem.

Outstanding Pastry Chef: Nick Wesemann, The American Restaurant

The talented Wesemann has been featured in numerous feature articles, including one about up-and-coming pastry chefs in 2010, as well as in a four-star 2014 review. Executive chef Michael Corvino, who took over in 2013, is not yet eligible for consideration. Chefs may be considered for the Best Chef category after spending at least three of the most recent years in the region.

Best Chef: Midwest

▪ Howard Hanna, The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange

Hanna has been an important creative force on the Kansas City dining scene since he opened his Crossroads restaurant in 2010. He is also a partner in CaVa, the city’s first champagne bar.

He has been featured in The Star’s award-winning Thanksgiving section as well as profiled as one of the forces behind the Crossroads Social Club, a late-night incubator for artists, chefs and those who work in the hospitality industry.

▪ Patrick Ryan, Port Fonda

Ryan debuted his 36-foot Airstream eatery Port Fonda in The Star’s parking lot during an early Food Truck Friday event. He went on to open Port Fonda, a brick-and-mortar space in Westport reviewed in 2013.

Star business reporter Joyce Smith reported on Chow Town last week that Ryan will open another Port Fonda in Lawrence.

Past Kansas City chefs who have received the award for Best Chef: Midwest include Michael Smith of Michael Smith and Extra Virgin (1999); chef/consultant Debbie Gold (1999); Celina Tio of Julian, Collection and Belfry (2007); and Colby Garrelts of Bluestem and Rye (2013).

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