Meet the Missouri chefs and restaurants up for James Beard awards

Several Missouri restaurants and chefs are among the semifinalists for the James Beard Foundation’s 2017 Restaurant and Chef Awards, which were announced Wednesday. The awards, dubbed by some as the “Oscars of Food,” cover a wide range of categories, from restaurateurs and chefs to food journalists and restaurant designers, among other food and beverage professionals.

In the Outstanding Restaurant category, bluestem in Kansas City was one of 20 semifinalists nationwide. Bluestem, which serves “progressive American cuisine,” along with a variety of desserts and drinks, was previously a semifinalist for the same award in 2015. The chef-owners of the restaurant are Colby and Megan Garrelts, who also own rye in Leawood, Kansas.

Megan Garrelts is also one of 20 semifinalists in the country for the award of Outstanding Pastry Chef. Colby Garrelts previously won Best Chef for the Midwest region in 2013.

Ashley Shelton of Pastaria in Clayton is one of 27 semifinalists for the Rising Star Chef of the Year award. Shelton previously won the “Young Guns” award given by Eater, an online food publication. Pastaria serves Italian cuisine and has been the subject of rave reviews from the St. Louis community.

St. Louis area chefs made a big splash in the Midwest category for Best Chef. Jesse Mendica of Olive + Oak, Mike Randolph of Público, Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street Cafe and Kevin Willmann of Farmhaus were nominated as semifinalists among a total of 20 chefs from across the region. Patrick Ryan of Port Fonda in Kansas City was the other chef representing Missouri on the list.

The James Beard Awards Gala, during which awards for chefs, restaurants and design will be given out, will be held May 1 at the Lyric Opera in Chicago. 

The annual awards were established in 1990 and are administered by the James Beard Foundation, a nonprofit based in New York City.

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