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Colorado Restaurant Association announces Spotlight award-winners

The Colorado Restaurant Association usually waits until its annual dinner celebration to announce its Industry Spotlight Awards. But this year, it's revealed more than a dozen people who'll be honored at the April 4 event at the Ritz Carlton, including the new additions to the Colorado Food Service Hall of Fame: Warren Byrne, longtime host of Warren Byrne's Restaurant Show; John Daisy, owner of Fatty's Pizza in Breckenridge; and and Rosemary Laurita, founders of Italco in Denver.

The other winners:

Signature Dish Exceptional Newcomer Award, given for extraordinary contributions in the hospitality industry: Mark DeNittis, Il Mondo Vecchio, and Jessica Doerffel, Elway's at the Ritz Carlton.

Outstanding Professional Award: Erin Pulling, Project Angel Heart, and Elise Wiggins, Panzano Restaurant.

Regional Outstanding Professional Award: Brian Nolan, 970 Group in Vail; and Liz Wahl, Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation.

Philanthropy Award: Brad and Libby Birky, SAME Café, for their outstanding civic and charitable giving (read the Westword cover story on the couple here).

Noel and Tammy Cunningham Humanitarian Award (given in honor of the late Noel Cunningham of Strings): Kevin McNicholas, K-M Concessions, Inc.

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The CRA Education Foundation's Reaching for the Stars "Knoebel" Award: Derek Figueroa, Seattle Fish Company, for his contributions on workforce and education initiatives in the foodservice and hospitality industry.

There's one more award that won't be revealed until the actual event: the Richard P. Ayers Award for Distinguished Service, the CRA's most prestigious award. And that won't be the only surprise that night -- let's see how I do as the emcee that night.

For more information and to purchase tickets, go to www.craspotlightawards.com.

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