Town Company and Drastic Measures headline KC’s 7 Beard Award nominations

Johnny Leach exclusively uses local Missouri white oak in his hearth. Photography by Caleb Condit & Rebecca Norden

The annual Beard Awards semifinalists nominations were just released and Kansas City’s food and drink scene has something to celebrate.

The KC area has seven semifinalists by our count, including two in the Beard’s prestigious “outstanding” categories. It’s a huge come-up for KC: Last year we had just two total nominations, neither for the sought-after “outstanding” categories.

Chef Johnny Leach of The Town Company is up for outstanding chef—not just in the Midwest, but the whole country. He’s up against top destinations like Meridian in Dallas, The Walrus and the Carpenter in Seattle and Llama Inn in Brooklyn. We’re not surprised, having named Town Company our Restaurant of the Year in 2021 and putting it at number two on our list of the city’s best last month.

In something that is likely to shock those who haven’t been—but not those who have—Jay Sanders’ delightful Shawnee speakeasy Drastic Measures is up for outstanding bar. We haven’t yet done hours of research to confirm that this is the first time a Kansas bar has been a semifinalist for Outstanding Bar, but we’d bet a thousand bucks on it.

Under best chef Midwest, Michael Corvino of Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room, Pam Liberda of Waldo Thai and Nick Goellner of The Antler Room are all semi-finalists. (We obviously agree, as they’re also all in our top 10.)

Among the richly deserved nominations in other categories, Yoli Tortilleria is up for best bakery and The Restaurant at 1900 in Mission Woods is being recognized for its outstanding hospitality—we’ve had mixed experiences with the food, but the service and drink program at 1900 are both outstanding.

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