Colby Gerrelts, James Beard Award-winning chef and Kansas City restaurateur, to deliver keynote address at annual restaurant-industry awards event, Oct. 27

Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association to unveil local restaurant awards and scholarships for area hospitality students

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Sept. 29, 2014) – The Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association is honoring area industry leadership and education at the Gilbert Robinson Leadership and Awards Dinner, Oct. 27.

The annual event is highlighted this year with a keynote address from Colby Garrelts, a James Beard Award-winning chef and co-owner of Bluestem in Kansas City and Rye in Leawood, Kansas. Garrelts’ address is titled A Definitive Definition of the Word ‘Chef.’ The event’s master of ceremonies is GKCRA treasurer David Lopez, general manager of Manny’s Mexican Restaurant in Kansas City.

“This event brings together the best of the best in the Kansas City restaurant community,” said Shannon Hickey, executive director of the Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association. “We are so excited to have Colby present some of his wisdom and experience to our current and future industry leaders.”

The event is hosted by The Venue In Leawood, a recently-opened event space managed by past Missouri Restaurant Association president and past GKCRA president, Carl Brandt. Catering for the event is provided by Bluestem with the assistance of local students through ProStart programs. ProStart, a national career-building program for high school students interested in the culinary arts and foodservice management, is sponsored by the GKCRA at nearly a dozen area schools.

Industry Leader Awards

Leaders in the Kansas City restaurant industry are nominated each year by employers and peers and awarded recognition at the Gilbert Robinson Dinner. Winners in the 14 categories represent the highest honors in the Kansas City restaurant community. Winners are chosen and nominated from the following categories:

  • Heart of the House Employee of the Year
  • Steward of the Year
  • Media Person of the Year
  • Allied Employee of the Year
  • Maitre’D of the Year
  • Chef Apprentice of the Year
  • Up-and-Coming Chef of the Year
  • Server of the Year
  • Bartender of the Year
  • Manager of the Year
  • Hospitalitarian of the Year
  • Chef of the Year
  • Corporate Director of the Year
  • Industry Icon, Lifetime Achievement Award
Scholarship Awards
Each year, the Gilbert Robinson Dinner honors the future of the restaurant industry with the presentation of eight scholarships to area students pursuing careers in the hospitality industry. The scholarships range in amounts from $500-$2,000 and are hand-picked each year by members of the GKRCA board through essays and interviews.

Student and Table Sponsorships

For the first time, event attendees can purchase sponsorships for tables as well as student scholarship winners and their educators. Levels of sponsorship are:

  • $500 Table Sponsor: includes eight seats, sponsorship of two educators or students and recognition in event signage, program and GKCRA promotional media
  • $350 Reception Sponsor: includes two seats and recognition in event signage, program and GKCRA promotional media
  • $200 Student Sponsor: includes sponsorship of four students and recognition in event signage
  • $100 Student Sponsor: includes sponsorship of two students and recognition in event signage
Individual tickets are available for $50 each.

About Colby Gerrelts

Chef Colby Garrelts is a 2013 James Beard Foundation winner of the Best Chef: Midwest award was listed by Food and Wine Magazine as one of its 2005 Top 10 Best New Chefs. While in culinary school, Garrelts worked in the famed American Restaurant and the legendary Stolen Grill, developing a taste for big city cuisine and small-business acumen. After completing stints in some of the finest restaurants in Chicago, Los Angeles and Las Vegas between 1999 and 2003, Garrelts returned to Kansas City to open Bluestem which has since received high praise from national sources including, Santé Magazine and Wine Spectator. In 2012, Garrelts, drawing inspiration from the Midwestern foods he and his wife grew up eating, opened Rye in Leawood to similar acclaim.

About David Lopez

David Lopez has grown up in the Kansas City restaurant community. Since his father opened Manny’s Mexican Restaurant in Kansas City in 1980, Lopez has served in a variety of roles in the restaurant from front of house manager to executive chef now as general manger of the still family-owned-and-operated establishment. In addition to his duties at the restaurant, Lopez serves on the board of directors for Visit KC and the GKCRA.  

About Gilbert-Robinson

The Gilbert Robinson Dinner celebrates a standard of excellence set by former Kansas City restaurant firm, Gilbert-Robinson. Founded in 1961, the Kansas City-based restaurant company became a national leader in the industry with distinguished innovations in menu, decor and service. The group created several legendary concepts in the Kansas City market including Houlihan's, Bristol Seafood Grill, Fedora Café and Bar, Plaza III and Fred P. Ott's. 

About Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association

The Greater Kansas City Restaurant Association (GKCRA) is a trade association with more than 600 members consisting of restaurants, caterers, hospitals, schools, institutions, clubs and in-plant cafeterias as well as vendors serving the local restaurant industry. Members work together to represent, educate and promote the restaurant and hospitality industries in the Missouri counties of Cass, Clay, Jackson, and Platte and Kansas counties of Johnson, Leavenworth and Wyandotte. For more information on the GKCRA, “like” GKCRA on Facebook at or follow GKCRA on Twitter @GKCRA.