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
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.
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.
Here’s the full list of Colorado semifinalists:
Kelly Whitaker, Id Est Hospitality Group (Basta, The Wolf’s Tailor, and BRUTØ), Boulder
Josh Niernberg, Bin 707 Foodbar, Grand Junction
Dana Rodriguez, Super Mega Bien, Denver
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 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