This year's James Beard awards were finalized on Monday, and while most of it is bad for us here in the Flyover States, there are plenty of parties going on elsewhere.
Colorado got completely skunked in the journalism awards, with most of the medals going to the usual suspects: Alan Richman, Ruth Reichl, Gourmet, Alan Richman, the Big City dailies, Alan Richman, New York Magazine and Alan Richman. One bright spot: my comrade-in-arms Kristen Hinman from Westword's sister paper, the Riverfront Times in St. Louis, took home her second medal on Monday night: this time for her piece called "The Pope of Pork." You can check out the details, the piece itself, and a lovely picture of Hinman holding up her Uncle Fester medallion (while standing in front of a desk that looks to be almost as cluttered and hard-used as mine) by following the above link. Give it a click, kids. It's worth your time.
As far as the chef and restaurant awards go? Nearly as bad. Though Korn Design did take home the gold (in the Outstanding Restaurant Graphics category) for their work on bringing the Corner Office to life in Denver (and doing, it should be noted, a killer job in carrying a whole bang-the-secretary, Mad Men vibe to downtown before most people had even heard of that show), everyone else got shut out. Ryan Hardy (of the Little Nell in Aspen) got beat by Paul Bartolotto from Vegas, and he was the only Colorado name on the entire list of chefs and restaurateurs. Again, a couple small consolations? Aldo Sohm from Le Bernardin won for Outstanding Wine Service, and he is the only sommelier in the country (other than Bobby Stuckey from Frasca, who wasn't nominated this year) who I keep track of at all. And in the Best New Restaurant category, the Uncle Fester went to David Chang from Momofuku Ko in NYC, and I like him just because he's foul-mouthed and obsessive and crazy and blisteringly successful -- all the things a serious young chef is supposed to be.
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So, while it might not have been a great year for us or our troops, congrats to everyone who took home the big prize this year -- and double extra-special congrats to Kristen and the crew from Korn. Only three hundred and sixty-something days until next year's awards are announced. And I, for one, can hardly wait.