“It’s a little bit wild,” Caroline Glover says of the past few days. On Monday, June 13, the chef/co-owner of Aurora’s Annette was in Chicago, where she took home a James Beard Award—considered the top honor in the restaurant world—for best chef in the Mountain region (which includes Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming). Another Coloradan, Adrian Miller, took home his second James Beard Media Award in the reference, history, and scholarship category for Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue.
The next night, Glover was back in Annette’s kitchen, cooking up the roasted chicken and tahini grilled carrots that earned her the award. She’s also been graciously responding to congratulatory messages, texts, and calls, not to mention fielding media requests for interviews (like this one).
“It was a very emotional day,” Glover says of the James Beard Awards. “By the time I got to the awards ceremony, I had talked myself out of any chance; I’d already lost in my mind. When they called my name, I don’t even think it registered. My husband [co-owner Nelson Harvey] was like, ‘It’s you!’ We were shocked. There are a lot of great people in our category who’ve been doing this for a really long time. I thought it was a great, diverse group, and anybody’s game.”
Besides being a big win for Glover, the James Beard Award is also a big win for Aurora, which doesn’t tend to get a lot of national attention. “The biggest thing for me is bringing this home for Aurora,” Glover says. “Aurora has had so much going on in the past 20 years in the news, and this feels really important for the community and the city, and I could not be more excited to represent Aurora in this.”
We snagged a few minutes with Glover to talk women in the kitchen, her favorite (and not so favorite) things to eat, and how Chili’s Bar & Grill changed her life. Here, five things you probably didn’t know about James Beard Award–winning chef Caroline Glover.
Her favorite Denver restaurant is Stowaway Kitchen
“My favorite, if I want something that I know I’m going to love, is Stowaway down in RiNo. The daytime cafe is perfect because I can’t get out for dinner that often. It’s nice to have a breakfast or lunch spot that’s the same high quality as a dinner in town. I always start with the fruit toast. Actually, at our wedding, they brought a bunch of fruit toasts for our breakfast!”
Why her kitchen will always be filled with women
“I really love working with women in the kitchen. The communication is easier, and I think our palates are a little bit more in tune. When I was at the Spotted Pig in New York City, it was all men at one point, and then we had an all women kitchen at one point, and it was the best kitchen I’d ever worked in. We’re on the same page a lot of the time. [Filling Annette’s kitchen with women] was definitely intentional. Every time I got a resume from a woman I was like, ‘Yes, let’s get her in there!’ There was a time when men were obviously favored in kitchens. It’s important to give women the chance to get into a professional kitchen. At the beginning, Annette’s kitchen was 95 percent women. Jake, [the current sous chef], was the only male. Now we’re at about 70 percent women.”
Here’s what she thinks you should order at Annette
“I usually eat one of our salads. Right now, it’s the carrot and radish escabeche salad that’s my favorite. And then the beef tongue. I rarely eat it in its entirety—a bite with the toast and the pickles and everything—and every time I do, I love it so much.”
But don’t make her eat chili
“Red chili is my most hated food. Unless it’s layered with tons of Fritos and cheddar cheese, I cannot do chili. And I hate chili with beans; I will not eat it.”
Speaking of chili…
“My very first job in a restaurant was at the Chili’s to-go window in Texas. That’s what made me want to be in the industry. I wasn’t cooking—I was kind of terrified of the kitchen; most young front of the house people are. It was just the energy, there was this energy and freedom. I just thought this was different than any job I’d ever had, and I want to be involved in this in some capacity.”