Seemingly always in motion at Bluestem, Chef Colby Garrelts might have trouble sitting still for four hours next month in New York City, waiting for the announcement as to whether he has won a James Beard Award. Just like last year, he's a finalist for the Best Chef: Midwest award.
Actually, it's the fourth year in a row that Garrelts has been
"After the nomination there's a sense of relief," he says, "and then I get excited and nervous again right before the awards show."
He has a plan for how this year's ceremony might be different. He's bringing his wife and pastry chef Megan Garrelts, Bluestem general manager Jason Lamb and chef de cuisine Bill Espiricueta to New York City for the awards dinner on May 3.
"The first part of my career I was focused on individual recognition.
Now, it's more about the place and the people -- that the restaurant is
being recognized," says Garrelts.
Bluestem opened in Westport six years ago, and Garrelts is comfortable that its
identity is firmly established in Kansas City. Although he admits that
a win would help put him at ease when he visits New York.
"I want to get this award so I don't have to worry about it. I've always had to work when I was going to New York City. There's never been a chance to just kick back."
When he returns, Garrelts will have plenty of work at Bluestem. The restaurant is hosting a Saturday tea on May 8, a Mother's Day brunch and a May 29 dinner at Green Dirt Farm in Weston.
Until then, he's enjoying the nomination. "It's a huge honor and no matter what happens," Garrelts says. "I'm happy right now."