The 13 Colorado Chefs and Restaurants Named 2023 James Beard Award Semifinalists

On January 25, the long-awaited list dropped, and sure enough, Colorado is well represented. The James Beard Foundation, established in 1990, supports the talented people behind the ever-changing food scene of America. Talent, equity and sustainability are the necessary tenets of this award, and we are confident that these semifinalists uphold each one.

Both old and new names shined this year. Denver culinary mastermind, Dana Rodriquez, seized a semifinalist spot in the category of Outstanding Chef for her second location following Work + Class, Super Mega Bien – a spot focused on approachable Latin American cuisine. This naming is a much-needed distraction as we await Rodriquez’s plans for Casa Bonita, which is anticipated to reopen in May. John Niernberg of Bin 707 Foodbar in Grand Junction stands alongside Rodriquez in this division.

READ: Super Mega Bien Launches New Menu
Super Mega Bien. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Olsen.

Acclaimed “shef” and owner of popular food truck Yuan Wonton, Penelope Wong, nailed a nomination for Best Chef: Mountain in company with four other food geniuses. Jose Avila for his traditional Mexican experience, La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal; Michael Diaz de Leon of BRUTØ; C. Barclay Dodge, for his innovative flavors found at Aspen’s Bosq; and Cindhura Reddy, co-owner of Spuntino all represent Colorado against Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

Photo courtesy of Sunday Vinyl via Facebook.

Sunday Vinyl, an intimate wine bar and restaurant produced by the Frasca Hospitality Group, beams in the Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program category. Kelly Whitaker of Id Est Hospitality Group snagged a nomination for Outstanding Restaurateur for his work with Basta, The Wolf’s Tailor and BRUTØ.

Nominees will be announced on Wednesday, March 29, but the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Award winners will be celebrated on Monday, June 5, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Photo courtesy of Wolf’s Tailor via Facebook.
Here’s the full list of Colorado semifinalists:

Outstanding Restaurateur

Kelly Whitaker, Id Est Hospitality Group (Basta, The Wolf’s Tailor, and BRUTØ), Boulder

Outstanding Chef

Josh Niernberg, Bin 707 Foodbar, Grand Junction

Dana Rodriguez, Super Mega Bien, Denver

Emerging Chef

Bo Porytko, Misfit SnackBar, Denver

Best New Restaurant

The Friar’s Fork, Alamosa

Outstanding Pastry Chef or Baker

Ismael de Sousa, Reunion Bread Co, Denver

Outstanding Hospitality

Pêche., Palisade

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program

Sunday Vinyl, Denver

Best Chef: Mountain (CO, ID, MT, UT, WY)

Jose Avila, La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal, Denver

Michael Diaz de Leon, BRUTØ, Denver

Barclay Dodge, Bosq, Aspen

Cindhura Reddy, Spuntino, Denver

Penelope Wong, Yuan Wonton, Denver

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