Chef Colby Garrelts is a 2013 James Beard Foundation winner of the Best Chef: Midwest award. He was named by Food & Wine Magazine as one of the Top 10 Best New Chefs in 2005 and obtained his culinary education in kitchens across the country. A native of Kansas City, Garrelts cooked at two prestigious private clubs, the famed American Restaurant, and the legendary Stolen Grill while attending culinary school. Garrelts developed a taste for big city cuisine, small business acumen and the aspiration to see what culinary experiences he could acquire in larger cities. With all of this on his mind, Garrelts moved to Chicago in 1999, where he became the senior sous chef at the five-star, five-diamond restaurant TRU, under nationally acclaimed chefs Rick Tramanto and Gale Gand. At TRU, Garrelts honed his technical skills, developed his culinary style and met his future wife/partner Megan Schultz.
Still anxious to get additional experience, Garrelts moved with Schultz to Las Vegas where he assisted Chef Jean Joho in managing his Eiffel Tower property in the Paris Hotel and later joined Schultz at Charlie Palmer’s Aureole in the Mandalay Bay Hotel. On a mission to hone their skills in a smaller kitchen, Garrelts and Schultz moved to Los Angeles where Chef Colby Garrelts secured the chef de cuisine position at Röckenwagner Restaurant in Santa Monica, California. After 2 years in Los Angeles Garrelts was eager to open his own restaurant where he could take the skills and experiences accumulated from the talented chefs he had worked for and blend them into his own distinctive cuisine.
Colby and Megan Garrelts, now married, moved to Kansas City, Missouri in 2003. The couple located a building in the heart of Westport, Kansas City’s entertainment district, and opened bluestem on March 15th 2004. In 2006 they expanded bluestem and opened a lounge next door to the dining room. The restaurant showcases chef Colby Garrelts’ Progressive American Cuisine and pastry chef Megan Garrelts’ New Varieties of American Desserts. A highlight of dining at bluestem is savoring the three, five or 10-course tasting menus and the decadent dessert tasting menu. The restaurant has received rave reviews including; 2007 Santé Magazine Restaurant of the Year, a 4-star rating from Kansas City Magazine, and Wine Spectator’s prestigious Award of Excellence. Insisting on “his way,” chef Colby Garrelts has successfully shown that this can result in an exceptional restaurant and award-winning cuisine! The Garrelts’ are very excited about their first cookbook, bluestem, the cookbook, which was released in fall 2011 and showcases the cuisine featured at the restaurant.
In December of 2012, Colby and Megan opened rye restaurant which celebrates the Midwestern foods they grew up eating. These chefs are proud to be from the Midwest and rye gives them the opportunity to showcase dishes that they have enjoyed with several generations of their families. Their cuisine takes traditional dishes and gives them a chef’s point of view, while preserving the important heritage of the dish. The chefs use fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and products including produce from their family farm. The beverages also have a local focus with a selection of wines, spirits and beers from Missouri and Kansas.