Restaurant owner Annette, Caroline Glover, left, talks to Linda McMahon, the Small Business Association's administrator, inside her restaurant at the Stanley Marketplace in Aurora on September 28, 2017 (Andy Cross, The Denver Post)
Although Coloradans already know it (thanks to their taste buds), there are some upscale restaurants here, but the state got a little more credit in the street on Wednesday: eight food and beverage providers Colorado included the James Beard Award semi-finalists for the restaurant and chef.
For the uninitiated, the James Beard Awards are the Oscars of the world of food. Winning one (or even the list of semi-finalists or finalists) is a huge honor that can not be overestimated. These awards recognize top chefs, restaurants, pastry chefs, bakers and others from across the country.
Colorado restaurants, bakeries, distilleries and chefs who qualified for the semifinals of 2019 (many of them have been re-appointed from previous years) have a chance to qualify for the finals. nominees before the 29th Annual James Beard Awards Gala in Chicago. The list of finalists will be announced on March 27th.
Caroline Glover, one of Colorado's semifinalists, is named best chef in the country's southwest. Glover, 32, founded Annette at Aurora's Stanley Marketplace in 2016 after working as a deputy chef at Denver's Acorn and The Spotted Pig in New York.
Glover says she woke up Wednesday with a handful of congratulatory text messages that alerted her to the announcement of this year's semi-finalists. (Last year, she listed Southwest's Best New Restaurant and Best Chef.)
READ MORE: Alex Seidel's James Beard Foundation's 2018 Award for the Denver Restaurant Scene
"For me, seeing my name is really amazing, but seeing Annette and Aurora, Colorado, on this list – that's telling the world," she said. "We have a very good team and I love the community in which we are."
Annette, Glover's first restaurant, has the philosophy of simplicity: let the ingredients and high-quality products shine through and be unique. Glover says she wakes up each day excitedly to get to work.
"I like to cook everyday, make decisions every day and work for myself, as well as the customers who walk through the door," she said. "We have a really amazing audience that supports us and it's fun to know that your day will involve cooking and interacting with people you really enjoy."
Wolf's Tailor, in the Sunnyside district of Denver, has been congratulated by the James Beard Foundation: Kelly Whitaker is semi-finalist for Best Chef Southwest and Jeb Breakell is named Outstanding Pastry Chef. The two men shared a moment of joy on the phone after learning that they had both been on the list, Whitaker said.
The kitchen staff of The Wolf's Tailor is unique: they do not have a French brigade title as "chef de cuisine" or "sous-chef". They are all equal members of the same culinary team. The menu of the restaurant, which changes daily, is hard to label (do not call it "fusion cuisine," said Whitaker), but is inspired by Italy and Asia.
The restaurant is also very new, having opened in the autumn. For Whitaker, who is also chef and owner of Basta in Boulder and co-founder of the Noble Grain Alliance, the nominations confirm that his team's latest experience is paying off.
"Getting a head nod so early is huge," said 42-year-old Whitaker. "And that's why we are all in the game. You have to go every day and say, "That's not how we saw the restaurants run. This is not the way restaurants are supposed to act. We are not supposed to do that. "
Q House, the modern Chinese restaurant that opened in Denver's Bluebirds district in May 2018, is also a semi-finalist in the Best New Restaurant category. Chris Lin, executive chef and restaurant partner, has almost become a programmer – but fortunately for Denver's gourmets, he ended up becoming a chef.
MORE: Read our review on Q House restaurant.
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Lin worked at Tabla and Momofuku in New York, then at Old Major in Denver.
"We are obviously very honored and a little surprised to have received some recognition at the national level," said Lin, 36. "We are very happy to be noticed."
Lin added that he hoped the restaurant would help people reinvent Chinese cuisine and dispel some of their preconceived ideas about it. Eggplant fries, for example, may not have been seen at first, but Lin said they were happy to have tried something new after tasting the dish.
"Many people have a very limited experience of eggplant, but they see the sauce of General Tso, they order and are pleasantly surprised by the different textures that eggplant can invoke," he said.
Here are the Colorado semi-finalists for the 2019 James Beard Awards:
Best new restaurant
Q House, Denver
Best Southwestern Chef
Caroline Glover, AnnetteAurora
Kelly Whitaker, The Wolf Tailor, Denver
Andy Clark, Moxie bread, Louisville
Outstanding Pastry Chef
Jeb Breakell, The Wolf Tailor, Denver
Frasca food and wine, Boulder
Outstanding wine service
Element 47 the Little Nell, Aspen
Exceptional producer of wine, spirits or beer
Todd Leopold and Scott Leopold, Leopold Bros., Denver
This story will be updated as more and more information becomes available.
UPDATE February 27 at 12:05 pm: This online file has been updated to reflect Glover's spelling.