It’s been two COVID-cautious years since the Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association hosted its Stars of The Industry awards banquet, but on Monday night the event returned — and several Wichita restaurants, chefs and culinary professionals were recognized.
The awards ceremony returned to the Kansas Star Casino, and attendees enjoyed food from local restaurants and watched awards being presented in categories such as Restaurateur of the Year, Chef of the Year and Hot New Concept.
In most categories, restaurants had to be members of KRHA to win. One category – Hot New Concept – is also open to non-members.
Below is a list of the winners and some of the nominees:
restaurateur of the year
This award is given to a restaurateur who is committed to the community and/or KRHA:
Winner: Alex Harb, Meddys – Five Wichita Locations: Harb, who opened his fifth Wichita Meddys in seven years in December 2021, is also known for hosting fundraisers for victims of crime and natural disasters.
Janez Lomshek, Talk of the Town, Overland Park
Jay IvesBlind Tiger, Topeka
Mike ThalerAustin’s Bar & Grill, Independence
Hot new concept
This award recognizes a restaurant concept that is a “future-focused brand at the forefront of gastronomy and poised for growth.”
Winner: First Mile Kitchen, 2141 N. Bradley Fair Parkway: Nick Korbee and Amanda Luginbill opened this upscale Bradley Fair restaurant in January and added a sister restaurant, First Mile Cantine, in June.
Urban Eggoverland park
Buck Tui BBQoverland park
chef of the year
This award recognizes a working chef who has “set new or enduring standards of excellence in the Kansas food scene.”
Winner: Carl Thorne-Thomsen, Story Restaurant, Prairie Village: The chef/owner of this popular Kansas City area restaurant has also been a finalist for James Beard on more than one occasion
Carlos SanchezRolling Hills Country Club, Wichita
Jeremy WadeNaples, Wichita
Patrick ShibleyDoo-Dah Diner, Wichita
Peter MorettiMarriott, Wichita
heart of the industry
This award recognizes “an employee who works hard to ensure the smooth running of the restaurant or hotel and exemplifies reliability, teamwork and dedication to the industry.”
Winner: Devin Slane, operations manager at local Doc Green’s restaurants, and Gale Cowan, a longtime waiter at the Old Mill Tasty Shop in Wichita:
David ThompsonTeacher’s Pizza, Wichita
Dwaine HoodBull Creek Distillery, Spring Hill
hall of fame
Winner: Bill Rowe, Blue Moon Caterers: Rowe is a longtime Wichita restaurateur who founded Willie C’s in 1985 and eventually bought Red Bean’s Bayou Grill. He has been running Blue Moon Caterers since 2002.
Hotelier of the Year
Winner: Bill Michaud, Sleep Inn and Holiday Inn Express and Suites, Fort Scott and Atchison
Prostart Mentor of the Year
These nominees are people who help train aspiring school cooks in Kansas through a program called ProStart.
Winner: Patrick Shibley, Doo-Dah Diner, Wichita
Other candidate: Ben George, Intrust Bank Arena
Prostart Teacher of the Year
This award honors a teacher at a Kansas public school who offers classes to aspiring chefs.
Winner: Bill Loudermilk, Wichita East High School