Antonation's first contributions to Westword were the comments he made on our Food & Drink posts, as "Mantonation." Those were so erudite and entertaining that we urged Antonation to start contributing stories (his missions included eating at every restaurant along Federal Boulevard and profiling each one in "A Federal Case"), then hired him as our full-time Food & Drink editor three years ago.
The scope of the AFJ Awards Competition has also expanded over the years. The first awards were handed out in 1987 and, according to the organization, "in the last thirty years, hundreds of judges have reviewed thousands of entries with one common goal: to recognize and perpetuate excellence in food journalism." Among the finalists this year are media outlets that didn't exist in 1987, such as Roads & Kingdoms, as well as magazines as venerable as The Atlantic, which was founded in 1857.
Antonation is a finalist in the Food Column category, along with Jenn Hall of Spoonful Magazine, Tamar Haspel of the Washington Post and Debbie Koenig of Weight Watchers magazine. His entry included three columns:
"The Toro Pot: a Diner Dish Unique to Denver," which described the evolution of a delicious mess of a meal; "How a Denver Food Truck Owner Became His Own Beef Supplier," detailing why Mestizos owner Jose Gonzalez co-founded DenCo Meats & Custom Cuts, a meat-processing facility in Deer Trail; and "Mandeeq African Restaurant Serves Food from a Country on Trump's Banned List," a profile of a small eatery in Aurora that serves foods typical of Somalia and the Muslim regions of bordering countries (including Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya).
The winners will be announced at the AFJ's annual convention in Phoenix in September. Our partner paper in that city, Phoenix New Times, is also a finalist in the Food Essay category for Patricia Escárcega's "Mother’s Milk."
Find the complete list of finalists at afjonline.com.