Finalists Announced for James Beard Awards; Seidel, Frasca Make the Cut

This award could be returning to Denver in May.
This award could be returning to Denver in May.
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The James Beard Foundation will hold its annual awards ceremony on May 7, 2018, and a couple of Denver and Boulder chefs and restaurants are among the finalists who could potentially take the stage in Chicago that night. Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder is up for Outstanding Restaurant, and chef Alex Seidel is up for Best Chef: Southwest for Mercantile Dining & Provision.

To be eligible for the Outstanding Restaurant award, an eatery must have been in business for at least ten years, a milestone Frasca passed four years ago. Since opening in 2004, the restaurant has won two James Beard Awards: Best Chef: Southwest for chef/owner Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson in 2008, and Outstanding Wine Program in 2013. Mackinnon-Patterson and fellow owner Bobby Stuckey have hauled in six other nominantions over the years, making Frasca a clear favorite of the James Beard Foundation judges.

Seidel's name has also appeared in previous years; he has been nominated for Best Chef: Southwest several other times, including last year for Mercantile and in previous years for his first restaurant, Fruition.

In other Colorado nominations, the Little Nell in Aspen is up for Outstanding Wine Program, and design firm Shears Adkins Rockmore Architects is up for an Outstanding Restaurant Design award, but for the Preacher’s Son in Bentonville, Arkansas, not for a Colorado restaurant.

Those who didn't get past the initial nomination round earlier this year were Todd Leopold of Leopold Bros. (Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional), Andy Clark of Moxie Bread Company (Outstanding Baker), chef Dana Rodriguez of Work & Class (Best Chef: Southwest) and chef Caroline Glover of Annette (Best New Restaurant and Best Chef: Southwest) — all worthy choices.

Colorado has had its ups and downs with James Beard judges over the years, but Frasca and the Little Nell have remained favorites, making it clear that if nothing else, judges are stopping in Boulder on their way from Denver International Airport to Aspen Food & Wine every summer. We hope that there are more reasons for them to hit Denver more frequently these days — perhaps a visit during Slow Food Nations, which returns for its second year July 13 to 15.

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