The James Beard Foundation Awards are among us and to no surprise, 13 Colorado-based chefs and restaurateurs are in the mix of semifinalists. Founded over 30 years ago, this nonprofit foundation is at the forefront of America’s food revolution. After a two-year break during the COVID-19 pandemic to focus on providing support for the independent chefs of our generation, these individuals deserve some much-needed recognition.
According to the James Beard Foundation, these prestigious awards are designated to “celebrate, support and elevate the people behind America’s food culture and champion a standard of good food anchored in talent, equity and sustainability.” By carefully determining the individuals who are honored, the restaurant industry is positively supported and the desrire to thrive only increases. Colorado foodies can now confirm their suspicions — we house some of the best chefs and restaurateurs in the industry.
Colorado is highlighted within many categories on the list, but old and new faces shine in the Best Chef, Mountain lineup. Cody Cheetham of Tavernetta is recognized for his work with Frasca Hospitality Group and Italian eats. Dana Rodriquez, the mastermind behind the resurrection of Casa Bonita, is featured alongside many other Centennial State residents.
These semifinalists were chosen after a reflection of policy and procedures. The new objections, according to the 2022 James Beard Awards, recognize the need to remove any systemic bias, increase diversity in voting, ensure that knowledge of the awards is widely known, increase transparency and closely align the awards with the foundation’s mission and values. The James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony will take place on June 13 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Here’s the full list of Colorado chefs and restaurateurs featured as 2022 James Beard Awards Semifinalists:
Edwin Zoe, Zoe Ma Ma and Chimera Ramen, Boulder and Denver
Josh Niernberg, Bin 707 Foodbar, Grand Junction
Manuel “Manny” Barella, Bellota, Denver
Best New Restaurant
Casian Seafood, Lafayette
Outstanding Wine Program
The Little Nell, Aspen
Best Chef: Mountain (CO, ID, MT, UT, WY)
Jose Avila, El Borrego Negro, Denver
Cody Cheetham, Tavernetta, Denver
Caroline Glover, Annette, Aurora
Mawa McQueen, Mawa’s Kitchen, Aspen
Dana Rodriguez, Work & Class, Denver
Eric Skokan, Black Cat Farm Table Bistro, Boulder
Luis Young, Penrose Room, Colorado Springs