Yesterday, the James Beard Foundation (akin to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the food world) unveiled its 2018 list of James Beard Award semifinalists. Among the 400-some chefs, sommeliers, restaurateurs, and restaurants, Colorado brought home eight nods—not as many as our food and drink pros deserve, but more than in years past.

A few of the nominees are familiar sightings on the list: Boulder’s Frasca Food and Wine, which appears for the third time in the Outstanding Restaurant category; Aspen’s the Little Nell, appearing for the third time in the Outstanding Wine Program category; and chefs Alex Seidel (Mercantile Dining & Provision, Fruition) and Dana Rodriguez (Work & Class), both of whom are prior contenders for Best Chef: Southwest.

The Foundation also recognized some Centennial State talent for the first time: Todd Leopold of Leopold Bros. is the sole Coloradan in the running for Outstanding Wine, Spirits, and Beer Professional. And Louisville’s Moxie Bread Co. (whom our critic extolls in his 2016 essay, “Ballad of a Small-Town Bakery”) is up for Outstanding Baker. How did founder Andy Clark and his crew celebrate? “We pounded beers! Then I went to Box Car [Coffee Roasters] in Boulder to cheer on my baristas in a latte art competition and was reminded of how amazing it is to be a part of such a vibrant food scene in Colorado right now. There is so much talent here!”

Caroline Glover and her year-old Stanley Marketplace eatery, Annette, are nominees in the Best Chef: Southwest and Best New Restaurant categories, respectively. She chose to celebrate the news a bit more reservedly: “Honestly, we did nothing. It doesn’t seem real! It’s crazy to see so many restaurants and chefs that I admire on a list that includes our little restaurant. I’m just starting to get over the shock!”

Glover will have plenty of time to recover, as the whittled-down list of finalists won’t be announced until March 14 and winners won’t be revealed until May 7. Until then, we should all celebrate by doing our Coloradan duty: drinking Leopold Bros. spirits, noshing on Moxie’s excellent breads and pastries, and dining at the restaurants listed above.

Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin is a writer living in Westminster, and has been covering food and sustainability in the Centennial State for more than five years.