Chow Town

Kansas City area has three James Beard semifinalists: Bluestem, Patrick Ryan and Jonathan Justus

Inside Bluestem after a major renovation in 2014
Inside Bluestem after a major renovation in 2014

One restaurant and two area chefs have been named semifinalists in the 2016 James Beard Awards.

Known as the Oscars of the food world, the awards cover all aspects of the industry: chefs and restaurateurs, cookbook authors and food journalists, restaurant designers and architects, and more.

The James Beard Foundation will announce its final nominees on March 15 in San Francisco and the awards will be presented at a May 2 gala in Chicago.

Outstanding Restaurant: Westport’s Bluestem. “Outstanding restaurants” are restaurants that serve as a national standard-bearer of consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere and service. The restaurants must have been in operation for 10 or more consecutive years.

Bluestem owners Colby and Megan Garrelts gave their restaurant a dramatic renovation in 2014 that resulted in a prairie chic vibe. Colby Garrelts was named the James Beard Best Chef of the Midwest in 2013.

Best Chef: Midwest

▪ Jonathan Justus of Smithville’s Justus Drugstore. Justus refers to himself as a “sustainable ominvore.” In June, Justus entertained Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods” host Andrew Zimmern and the two roasted a woodchuck together.

▪ Patrick Ryan of Port Fonda in Westport and Lawrence. What Ryan started in a trailer has turned into a hip and beloved Westport destination. Last year, it opened a second location in Lawrence.

Joyce Smith: 816-234-4692, @JoyceKC