This year, though, the JBF looked beyond the big names to give some love to a few outstanding representatives of the food industry in and around Denver. Andy Clark, founder of Moxie Bread Company in Louisville, was tagged in the Outstanding Baker category, along with nineteen other bakers around the country. In the Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional category, Todd Leopold of Leopold Bros. earned a spot in a field with only four other distilleries represented on the list of twenty semi-finalists.
Annette, which just opened a year ago in Stanley Marketplace, earned two semi-finalist slots: one for Best New Restaurant and one for Best Chef: Southwest, for chef/owner Caroline Glover. That's pretty impressive, considering this is Glover's first gig as an executive chef and Annette is actually in Aurora, which doesn't exactly draw national attention for its high-end restaurant scene.
Also getting Best Chef: Southwest nods are Dana Rodriguez for Work & Class and Alex Seidel for Mercantile Dining & Provision (he was previously nominated for his first restaurant, Fruition). Out west, the Little Nell in Aspen received a nomination for Outstanding Wine Program.
But the big prizes have proven elusive. Outside of the kitchen and bar, then-Westword restaurant critic Jason Sheehan won a first-place Journalism award for Newspaper Restaurant Review or Critique, and another Westword writer, Jared Jacang Maher, won an award for his feature "A Hunger to Help," about Denver's SAME Cafe. And, of course, in 2014, Adrian Miller took a top prize in the James Beard books competition for Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine One Plate at a Time.
We'll keep our fingers crossed for some big wins this year, but in the meantime, we celebrate this city's culinary scene every day by consuming good food and booze that the rest of the country has yet to discover. And you can make your opinion count, too: We're coming up on our annual Best of Denver issue (slated for March 29), so be sure to vote for your favorites in our Best of Denver Readers' Poll.