The James Beard Foundation on Monday announced its 2020 Awards finalists, even as nominated restaurants across the country remained closed for business.
Considered the Oscars of the food world, the James Beard Awards honor chefs, restaurants, bar and wine programs, beer and spirits producers and more players on the national food scene.
Back in February, Colorado received 18 semifinalist nods, and six of those nominees advanced to the finals this week.
Of Colorado’s six 2020 finalists, two were nominated for national-level awards: Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder is up for Outstanding Restaurant; while Todd Leopold and Scott Leopold of Leopold Bros. in Denver are in the running for Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Producer.
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Frasca last year won the national James Beard Award for Outstanding Hospitality, and it has been nominated in the past for Outstanding Restaurant.
In addition to those national awards, four Colorado chefs were nominated for the regional Best Chef: Mountain award, which encompasses Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.
Carrie Baird is nominated for her work at Bar Dough in Denver; Caroline Glover is up for her restaurant Annette in Aurora; Dana Rodriguez is a nominee for Super Mega Bien in Denver; and Kelly Whitaker is in the running for The Wolf’s Tailor in Denver.
MORE: Colorado has a whopping 18 semifinalists in the 2020 James Beard Awards
Before the coronavirus shutdown, the winners of the 2020 James Beard Awards were expected to be announced on Monday. But the national nonprofit shifted its focus to restaurant aid and awareness over the last two months.
The organization helped found the Independent Restaurant Coalition, which has been lobbying for federal aid for affected businesses. And it created the James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund, which has distributed $4 million in emergency grants to restaurants.
In a blog post on Friday, the Foundation said it wanted to continue these efforts while still honoring restaurants for their hard work before the national shutdown.
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“It was clear that those whose work in 2019 led them to be selected as a semifinalist — and perhaps ultimately a nominee or a winner — deserved the recognition they earned,” the foundation wrote. “Those (restaurateurs and chefs) we consulted felt the Awards could also offer a glimmer of hope to an industry looking for light in a very dark time.”
Winners for the 2020 James Beard Foundation Awards will be announced in Chicago on Sept. 25.
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