Colorado Restaurant Association Recognizes Outstanding Industry Professionals

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Awards season has hit for the Colorado Restaurant Association, which every year honors hospitality and food- service professionals across the state with a number of distinctions. This week, the CRA hosted its Lifetime Achievement Awards ceremony and dinner at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

The event "celebrates individuals who are devoted to the idea of hospitality and practice it in their daily lives," according to the CRA. As part of the annual awards program, the association pays tribute to Noel and Tammy Cunningham — whose restaurant Strings was a standout during its tenure from 1986 to 2013 — with an award for outstanding humanitarians. Although Noel passed away in 2011, he and Tammy are still known as much for their good works as their good food. This year, the Noel & Tammy Cunningham Humanitarian Award went to Larry and Jill DiPasquale, founders of the Epicurean Group, a catering company that devotes considerable time and money to food security, civil rights and sustainability issues.

Inductees into the Food Service Hall of Fame this year were Villis Berzins of the Little Pub Company, who has designed some 2,000 restaurants during his career; Joan Brewster, executive director of the American Culinary Federation's Colorado Chefs Association; Rob Haimson of Magnum Properties; and Thom Parker of TMP Management & Consulting and Meadow Gold Dairies, Inc. Steve Kanatzar of The Airplane Restaurant in Colorado Springs won this year's Distinguished Service Award.

Last month, the CRA held its Industry Spotlight Awards ceremony at the Colorado Convention Center during its annual Colorado Restaurant Show. The association gave out Signature Dish awards (actual glass dishes made by the Blake Street Glass Studio) and Stars of the Industry awards. Among those recognized was Westword food and drink editor Mark Antonation, named the CRA's Outstanding Media Professional. (Westword editor Patricia Calhoun won the inaugural award in that category).

Here's the complete list of winners:

Signature Dish Awards
Philanthropist: Lauren O'Brien of the Palm, and Sean McNicholas and Shannon Fitzgerald of the McNicholas Family.
Exceptional Newcomer: Chef Christopher Martinez of Ad Hominem
Outstanding Professional: Chef Brother Luck of Four by Brother Luck
Regional Outstanding Professional: Brian Seifried of Wing Shack
Outstanding Media Professional: Mark Antonation of Westword
Outstanding Allied Partner: Rich Schneider of Raquelitas Tortillas

Stars of the Industry Awards
Manager of the Year: Mark Stanford of Truffle Pig Restaurant
Front of House Employee of the Year: Thania Arroyo of 'Bout Time! Pub & Grub
Bartender of the Year: Michael Howk of The Palm
Chef of the Year: Linda Hampsten Fox of The Bindery
Legacy Emplyees: Milton Guevara of Illegal Pete's, Rose Votta of Frasca Food and Wine, Julie Ludwig of
Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant, and JJ Johnson of the Laundry Kitchen & Cocktails
Pinnacol Assurance Safety Award : Edible Beats (Root Down, Linger, Ophelia's, Vital Root, El Five)

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