Dishing Colorado kudos

More inclusive foodie Oscars honor state’s hot culinary community

Susan France

There may have been a time when Colorado wasn’t a blip on the national culinary radar — certainly not Boulder or Aurora — but no longer. The state’s food attractions are popping up nationally for major awards and on foodie TV shows like the current Colorado-centric season of Top Chef.

Congratulations go to the local folks honored on the just-announced semi-finalists’ list for the 2018 James Beard Awards, the national Oscars of dining. Whether they make it onto the list of five finalists in March (or win the category in May), the nod acknowledges significant culinary achievement.

Andy Clark, owner of Louisville’s Moxie Bread Co., is nominated in the Outstanding Baker category. It is the bakery’s first Beard appearance and a huge accolade for a tiny place baking buttery pastries and crusty loaves.

“I hope we were nominated for our belief in local heirloom grains and being a community-oriented bakery. The staff pours its heart and soul into it. Honestly, I’m living my dream every day here. Everything else is gravy,” Clark said.

Perennial nominee Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder is nominated for the third time in the Outstanding Restaurant category. Last year Frasca ended up as a finalist.

“We are super excited to be nominated, but what is even more exciting is to see all the great Colorado peers on the ballot,” said Bobby Stuckey, master sommelier and co-owner of Frasca. American Airlines recently hired Stuckey to oversee its entire wine program.

The Beard semi-finalist roster includes Annette. The eatery in Aurora’s new Stanley Marketplace food hall is nominated among 27 others for Best New Restaurant. Annette’s chef, Caroline Glover, is listed in the Best Chef: Southwest category along with Dana Rodriguez (Work & Class, Denver) and Alex Seidel (Fruition, Mercantile Dining & Provision, Denver). Both Rodriguez and Seidel have been nominated before.

Finally, The Little Nell in Aspen is nominated for the Outstanding Wine Program award, and Todd Leopold of the Denver craft distillery, Leopold Bros., gets the nod in the Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional category.

This year’s semi-finalist list includes 40 percent women, up from 27 percent in 2017. The James Beard Foundation asked its voters for the first time to look at “the values of respect, transparency, diversity, sustainability and equality” in the nominees before deciding. It’s about time.

The #MeToo movement has had an impact. Before the nomination process started, the James Beard Foundation had a recommendation: “If you have concerns about a chef, restaurateur or beverage professional, or about the culture around a restaurant or restaurant group, leave the person or business out of your nominations.”

One well-deserved award has already been announced. Beard’s 2018 Humanitarian of the Year award goes to chef José Andrés for his World Central Kitchen, which has served over 3 million meals so far in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria and shines a spotlight on still-deplorable conditions there.

Meanwhile, Denver’s Il Porcellino was named the 2018 Charcuterie Master Grand Champion in New York last week over the best creators of sausages, patés, hams and salumi in the U.S. “I’m just humbled beyond words. It’s nice to be recognized nationally for what we’re doing,” said Bill Miner, founder of Il Porcellino.

Colorado also has 19 restaurants with four-diamond ratings in AAA’s just-announced 2018 listings including Frasca and the Flagstaff House in Boulder, Mizuna and Rioja in Denver, and Mirabelle at Beaver Creek.

Culinary correspondence

Several Nibbles readers offered comments on my Feb. 22 column on the boom in fast food and fast-casual vegan food options. I asked for additions to my list:

The reuben challenge

“You missed the best Boulder option of all, the 100-percent vegan Native Foods in 29th St. Mall. My favorite item is the Reuben sandwich. I challenge any carni-phile to taste the difference between it and a beef reuben.”

‘Food-not food’

“I still enjoy Falafel King. Thank goodness for Illegal Pete’s (veggie burrito bowl), Wahoo’s Fish Tacos (cheese enchiladas, veggie bowl), and Noodles & Co. Panera provides vegetarian options, but not vegan. (I always wind up getting cheese.) We’re lucky for the salad and food bars at Whole Foods, Alfalfa’s and Sprouts. Another fun find is the veggie food at A Cup of Peace. … I’ve come to call what you can get at (in)convenience stores and fast-food joints as ‘Food-Not Food.’ It’s something to consume but it’s not genuine food.”

‘Carnivore Snark’

“Yes, you missed plenty … as you have done before, you can’t seem to resist slipping in carnivore snark — ‘yummy animal proteins.’ I guess you want to make sure you are viewed as ‘manly’ — which, by the way, is not related to eating meat.”

More suggestions?

Forty years of thank you notes

For most of the past 40 years I’ve been a volunteer at KGNU, Boulder’s community radio station. My original food program, the Generic Gourmet Show, was followed by Radio Nibbles, which has been on the air for 20 years. Several generations of Boulder County food businesses have been there for KGNU during good times and years when we weren’t sure the station would survive. Local restaurants, coffee roasters, breweries and bakeries have donated food, provided underwriting, fed hundreds of volunteers and provided thank-you gifts during our necessary membership drives. We’ve delivered chocolate mousse and apple pie to homes and gathered folks for grand buffets and wine dinners at Arugula.

As KGNU celebrates 40 years on the air, I just wanted to say thank you to all of them for feeding the station and the community.

Words to chew on

“Like the theater, offering food and hospitality to people is a matter of showmanship, and no matter how simple the performance, unless you do it well, with love and originality, you have a flop on your hands.” – James Beard

John Lehndorff hosts Radio Nibbles at 8:25 a.m. Thursdays on KGNU (88.5 FM, 1390 AM, Podcasts: