Last night, the Colorado Restaurant Association presented its annual Spotlight Awards at the Exdo Event Center, honoring the state's restaurant hospitality stars. The theme of this year's awards ceremony was Women Who Rock, and the ticketed event was highlighted by cooking demonstrations from five of Denver's best female chefs.
The top award — and the only one not announced in advance — was the Richard P. Ayers Award for Distinguished Service, which went to Derek Figueroa, chief operating officer of the Seattle Fish Co., which has been bringing fresh seafood to Denver since 1918.
Here's a list of the other recipients:
Outstanding Media Professional Signature Dish Award: Amanda Faison of 5280 magazine.
Noel & Tammy Cunningham Humanitarian Award: Walter and Christie Isenberg of Sage Hospitality.
Colorado Homes & Lifestyles Best Restaurant Design Award: Black Eye Coffee.
Pinnacol Assurance Safety Award: The Tavern Hospitality Group.
Reaching for the Stars Knoebel Award: The Weil Family Foundation.
Regional Outstanding Professional Signature Dish Awards: Mark Havens of Cafe Vino (Fort Collins) and Greg Howard of McCabe's Tavern (Colorado Springs).
Colorado Foodservice Hall of Fame Inductees:
Penny Parker (accepted posthumously by Devany McNeill and Patricia Calhoun); Craig Reed of the Broadmoor Hotel; Lee Goodfriend, David Racine and Dixon Staples (posthumously) of Racines, Goodfriends and Dixons; and Tom Walls of the Castle Cafe, Next Door and Trinity Grille.
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While "Signature Dish" recipients received blown-glass awards, guests of the event were treated to rounds of dishes created by chefs Jenna Johansen of Epicurean Catering, Sheila Lucero of the Jax Fish House group, Liz Farrall of Sarto's, Andrea Knight of the Noshery and Serena Romeo of Comida.
Handmade art-glass awards are given to recipients.