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Three Colorado Chefs, One Restaurant Nominated for 2017 James Beard Awards

Chefs, including Jennifer Jasinski (a previous James Beard Award winner) and Eric Skokan (far right), prep for a James Beard dinner last fall.EXPAND
Chefs, including Jennifer Jasinski (a previous James Beard Award winner) and Eric Skokan (far right), prep for a James Beard dinner last fall.
Mark Antonation
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The annual James Beard Awards wouldn't be complete without a nomination for Frasca Food & Wine. The Boulder eatery regularly receives accolades for its wine program, its service and its chef, Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson (who is also co-owner). Since opening more than a decade ago, Frasca has earned seven nominations and two wins: a 2013 award for Best Wine Program and a 2008 award for Best Chef: Southwest. This year, the James Beard Foundation has nominated the Italian restaurant for the Outstanding Restaurant award; it shares the category with nineteen other establishments around the country.

But that's not the end of the good news for Colorado restaurants. The Best Chef: Southwest category includes three Denver and Boulder chefs this year: Eric Skokan of Black Cat Bistro, Steven Redzikowski of Acorn and Alex Seidel of Mercantile Dining & Provision. Redzikowksi and Seidel were also nominated in this category last year, along with Work & Class chef/partner Dana Rodriguez.

This is the first James Beard nomination for Skokan, who also runs Bramble & Hare in Boulder. "I'm elated and stunned," he said this morning after learning the news — and after a busy few days preparing for last night's Valentine's Day dinner service. "I was kind of in a haze this morning when texts just starting pouring in."

Skokan says that the nomination is an honor for his entire team. "I'm proud for the whole staff — our whole restaurant has been working so hard over the last year," he notes, adding that Redzikowski and Mackinnon-Patterson have both brought national attention to Boulder with Oak at Fourteenth and Frasca, respectively: "Talk about a statement about a community and our level of commitment to food."

Seidel, whose work at both Mercantile and Fruition have earned him respect here and across the country, was on a plane when the nominations were announced, but upon his arrival in New York texted, "I just landed in NYC, news to me!"

Colorado was ignored in other categories that have won nominations for the state in the past, including Rising Star Chef of the Year; Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional; Outstanding Restaurateur; and Outstanding Pastry Chef. With so much great food in Denver and the surrounding area, it's only a matter of time before the state joins other regional powerhouses like Texas, which usually dominates the Southwest region.

It's just too bad that the James Beard judges didn't think that time was now.

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