The James Beard Foundation released their list this week of the nationwide semifinalists who have been nominated for a 2017 James Beard award. In Kansas City and Lawrence combined, we scored a total of 5 nominations – four of them for national awards, where our local chefs and bartenders will go up against others from across the nation, and one was a regional nomination for best chef in the Midwest region. So, how does it feel to wake up as a James Beard semifinalist? We asked our local food and drink artisans to share their feelings about their nominations and where they were when they first found out.
Outstanding Bar Program: Manifesto
This is Manifesto’s first time being nominated for a James Beard award, and owner, Ryan Maybee, says he was completely caught off guard when he heard the news. This nomination was nowhere on his radar. “The whole nomination process for this is not something I fully understand or was lobbying for, but I do know that the Outstanding Bar Program category was added about 5 years ago, when the Beard Foundation decided to give recognition to bars and beverage professionals in addition to restaurants and chefs,” he told Feast.
He said looking back historically, this category has always gone to a top craft cocktail bar like The Violet Hour or The Aviary in Chicago, and Maybee says it is an honor to just be nominated with the best of the best. “This is a national category, so we are competing with some amazing bars across the country,” he says. “Manifesto has been open for 8 years, and it is a testament to the staff and their dedication to their craft that we are still considered by the Foundation to be operating at the top of our game, after all these years.”
Manifesto, 1924 Main St, Kansas City, MO 64108, (816) 536-1325, www.manifestokc.com
Outstanding Pastry Chef: Megan Garrelts for Rye and
Outstanding Restaurant: Colby and Megan Garrelts for Bluestem
Megan and Colby Garrelts were at home putting their schedules together for the day when the news of the James Beard nominations came through on their social media feed. Bluestem received a semifinalist nod for the eleventh year in a row for Outstanding Restaurant, and this culinary power couple gives all the credit for that honor to their staff for keeping their standards consistently high, and continuing to push themselves. For Megan, she personally received a nomination for Outstanding Pastry Chef for her work at Rye. “This is such wonderful news to be included on this list again, my prior nomination was for Outstanding Pastry at Bluestem, and I really treat both restaurants as one bake shop, so a nomination at either store is equally important to me,” she explained.
With pies at the center of her Midwestern-flavored pastry program at Rye, she says she believes that this nomination is a reflection of the James Beard Foundation looking for the best examples of regional cooking. She says she did not do this alone, and is thankful for the support of Colby, and their entire team at both Rye and Bluestem. “Both of ours are national lists this year, and it’s tough to get to the finalist list in just the region, so I’m thrilled with where we are with both nominations,” says Colby.
Bluestem, 900 Westport Road, Kansas City, Missouri, 64111, 816.561.1101, www.bluestemkc.com
Rye, 10551 Mission Road Leawood, Kansas, 66206, 913.642.5800, www.ryekc.com
Best Chef Midwest: Patrick Ryan, Port Fonda
When Patrick Ryan heard the news that he was nominated as a semifinalist he was at Port Fonda in Westport, deep cleaning the bar. It totally made him think of those "what I really do" vs. "what my friends think I do" memes. As the only Kansas City chef who made it to the semifinals for Best Chef Midwest, he and his entire team had their emotions running high with the news and ultimately they were all extremely honored. “It’s a huge deal, and means national exposure for the restaurant, and for myself, from a very well respected organization,” says Ryan. “More than anything it's a reflection of the entire staff that work so hard day in and day out to be the best we can be.” Ryan believes that this nomination is a reflection of his ability to stay true to his restaurant brand and its identity – which he believes represents an original, cool, fun concept with awesome food, drinks, service and atmosphere. He hints that a James Beard nomination is not the only thing he is excited about, as he is currently working on his next new restaurant.
Port Fonda, 4141 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, Missouri, 64111, 816.216.6462. www.portfonda.com
Outstanding Baker: Taylor Petrehn, 1900 Baker Bakery & Café
As the first person from Lawrence to be nominated for a James Beard award, Taylor Petrehn said he had shakes for about 10 minutes after receiving his first text message congratulating him on his nomination for Outstanding Baker. Using mostly local grain to make his baked goods, there is a sense of place about the bread Petrehn has become known for making in the Lawrence bakery he owns with his brother Reagan, who handles the coffee side of the business.
“I feel very honored, and I'm definitely proud to represent my homeland in this way,” he says. “I couldn't be more proud of our staff and team at 1900 Barker for helping make this possible, and I could not have done it with out them.” He especially is grateful to his brother and business partner for working with him to manifest this dream of owning this bakery and coffee shop together. He says getting nominated is both; a pat on the back, and encouragement that they’re headed is in the right direction.
“Success looks different for a lot of people, but for me, I'm surrounded by an incredible staff, in a supporting community and I am building a growing business,” he says. “I think this is just like the cherry on top.”
1900 Barker Bakery & Cafe, 1900 Barker, Lawrence, Kansas, 66046, 785.424.7609, www.1900barker.com