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The James Beard Awards Agree—Colorado's Got Something Cookin'

Colorado has 18 James Beard Award semifinalists, its most ever, including Denver's Sunday Vinyl, up for best new restaurant
Sunday Vinyl
Colorado has 18 James Beard Award semifinalists, its most ever, including Denver's Sunday Vinyl, up for best new restaurant

The Mountain West is very well represented in this year's James Beard Awards, the semifinalists for which were announced last week.

The awards are often called the Oscars of the food world.

"They are the highest accolades that you can possibly earn, and they're extra special, I think, too, because it is pretty much recognition from your peers," said Denise Mickelsen, food editor at Denver-based 5280 magazine.

This year, Mickelsen said, a regional category shift helped spotlight the Mountain West's top restaurants and chefs.

"Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming are all in one region together, whereas before we were part of the Southwest region," she said. "And Texas is a big culinary heavy hitter, so to not have to compete against Texas chefs anymore is a big deal for chefs in the Mountain region."

As Mickelsen reported for 5280, Colorado has 18 semifinalists-its most ever.

"The floodgates are open," Denver's Kelly Whitaker, a two-time semifinalist, told Mickelsen. "Mountain says a lot about who we are, and [the new region] is an opportunity to change the perception of what it means to cook here. It's a great list and I am very humbled to be on it with these amazing chefs."

The final nominations will be announced on March 25.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center For the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Maggie Mullen, at mmullen5@uwyo.edu.


Copyright 2020 Wyoming Public Radio. To see more, visit .

Maggie Mullen is a fifth generation Wyomingite, born and raised in Casper. She is currently a Masters candidate in American Studies and will defend her thesis on female body hair in contemporary American culture this May. Before graduate school, she earned her BA in English and French from the University of Wyoming. Maggie enjoys writing, cooking, her bicycle, swimming in rivers and lakes, and most any dog.