Just outside Chicago in Naperville, Illinois, Megan Schultz began her culinary education at age 15. At an early age, Schultz met her first professional chef and soon after was learning the basics of restaurant and kitchen operations while working in several area restaurants. While working in restaurant pastry kitchens, she decided to focus her career in baking and pastry and enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, in 1998. While at the CIA, Schultz fulfilled her externship at the Park Avenue Café in New York City under Pastry Chef Richard Leach, who was a recipient of the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Pastry Chef Award.
After graduating from the CIA in 2000, Schultz moved back home where she worked with Pastry Chef Gale Gand, another recipient of the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Pastry Chef Award at TRU in Chicago. TRU raised Megan’s level of professional standards and helped formulate her personal vision of fine pastries. Chef Gand gave her pastry staff the freedom to develop menu items and this let Schultz create pastries in her own style. While working at TRU, she met her future husband, Colby Garrelts.
From Chicago, Schultz moved to Las Vegas with Colby, where she was pastry sous chef of Charlie Palmer’s Aureole in the Mandalay Bay Hotel. She worked alongside pastry chef Megan Romano, developing new menus and managing a high volume kitchen. However, she and Colby soon longed to be in a smaller restaurant, where they could refine their style. They moved to Los Angeles where Schultz was the executive pastry chef for the Getty Center Restaurant. In January 2003, the Los Angeles Times food critic favorably reviewed her work. She also developed recipes and menu items while consulting for Chef Hans Rockenwagner’s two restaurants in Santa Monica, California.
After two years in California, Colby and Megan decided it was time to return to the Midwest and realize their dream of owning a small fine dining restaurant. Colby and Megan Garrelts, now married, returned 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 the Garrelts expanded bluestem and opened their lounge next door to the dining room. The restaurant showcases Chef Colby Garrelts’ Progressive American cuisine and Chef Megan Garrelts’ new varieties of American desserts. A highlight of dining at bluestem is savoring the five or 10-course tasting menus and the decadent dessert tasting menu. The restaurant has received rave reviews including the 2007 Santé Magazine Restaurant of the Year, a 4-star rating from Kansas City Magazine, and Wine Spectator’s prestigious Award of Excellence. With bluestem, the Garrelts’ offer a flavorful toast to fine dining and a marriage of outstanding culinary skills. They 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.