Colby and Megan Garrelts, the husband-and-wife team behind acclaimed Kansas City restaurant Bluestem are opening a second restaurant in nearby Leawood, Kansas: Rye, a restaurant inspired by the couple's Midwestern background. Colby Garrelts tells the Kansas City Star the restaurant will be "Midwestern but not hokey...Gingham and leather, not cowboys and wagon wheels."
Bonjwing Lee, Eater contributor and photographer for the Bluestem cookbook tells Eater, "For far too long and for completely understandable but short-sighted reasons, chefs in our region have been running away from these [traditional Midwestern] foods, abandoning them as uninteresting and trading them out for perceived sophistication from the coasts and beyond." He compares the Garreltses' potential contribution to Midwestern cuisine to that of Alice Waters on the West Coast and Sean Brock in the South, saying, "I am thrilled that Colby and Megan want to revisit square one, to celebrate our Midwestern heritage, and do it right. We've needed this for far too long."
But what will the food be like? The Kansas City Star mentions "smoked pork chops, fried chicken, aged steaks, baby back ribs, Parker House rolls, seasonal pies and fruit cobblers, and icebox cakes." Lee adds chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, biscuits, and pie to that list, but mentions "I think you'd be missing the point if you are expecting Rye to simply be an encyclopedia of Midwestern food...[the Garreltses] want to be standard bearers for them in quality."
Colby Garrelts was one of Food & Wine's best new chefs of 2005 and has been nominated for a James Beard Award multiple times. Rye will open in mid-October.