|Tio was tops in 2009|
For over a decade we've honored, in the pages of the "Best of Kansas City" issue, the men and women who really make a restaurant work: the chefs, bartenders, waiters and waitresses. Last year's nod for "Chef of the Year" went to Celina Tio, who had just opened her Brookside bistro, Julian.
Other award-winning chefs over the last decade have included three other restaurant chef-owners, including Bluestem's Colby Garrelts in 2005. The following year the "Best Chef" award went to the iconoclastic Ray "Pete" Peterman of the very good but now nearly forgotten Northland bistro the Sour Octopus -- and, later, SORedux in Columbus Park. B the way, where is he now? Jasper Mirabile Jr., of Jasper's Restaurant, was the winner in 2003.
Last year's "Best Server," Richard Strong, is still a fixture at Cafe Trio. Our winning "Best Waiter" candidate in 2001, Robert Guiterrez, is still at The American; that year's "Best Waitress," veteran server Audrey Anderson, is still at RC's Restaurant and Lounge in Martin City.
But many of the professional servers picked by The Pitch in the "Best Server" category over the years have moved on to different dining rooms. Good servers tend to move around a lot (traditionally to newer venues, where the opportunity for more rewarding tips is better), so many of those past winners are employed at different restaurants. There is, for one, waitress-astrologer Brenda G. Smith (now at Avenues Bistro), the "Best Waitress" of 2004. And there's our 2003 winner, Scott Henze, who says he's now "semi-retired," but still works several shifts at the M&S Grill.
Other past serving staff winners include Kevin Fosland in 2000 (he was at the long-defunct Hannah Bistro on 39th Street), Bruce Owens of the Peppercorn Duck Club (in 2002) and Darren Manson (2005) of the now-closed City Tavern.