There’s more great news today for the Centennial State dining scene: We proudly announce that StarChefs, a nationally recognized industry platform and quarterly magazine, is bringing its Rising Star Awards to Colorado for the first time. After months of eating, drinking, and talking to chefs, artisans, sommeliers, and bartenders in Denver, Boulder, Vail, Aspen, and beyond, the StarChefs team has chosen 29 up-and-coming members of our very talented local scene as the 2017 Colorado Rising Stars.

The Rising Stars tasting gala and awards ceremony will take place on Tuesday, April 25 at City Hall, where the winners will be honored and also cook for Denver diners; each winner will serve a signature dish or drink (listed below).

Please join us in celebrating the Rising Stars’ accomplishments by buying your tickets here (general admission is $85 and VIP tickets, which include a private cava and caviar reception before the ceremony, are $125.)

Max McKissock, Bar Dough
Featured dish: Carrots, farro, chickpeas, cumin vinaigrette
Alex Figura & Spencer White, Dio Mio
Featured dish: Squid ink spaghetti, kimchi, pork belly
Jorel Pierce, Euclid Hall
Featured dish: Chips and dip with smoked duck and lemon goat cheese
Matthew Vawter, Mercantile Dining & Provision
Featured dish: Arancini, cauliflower, hazelnut vinaigrette
Cindhura Reddy, Spuntino
Featured dish: Saffron cavatelli with braised lamb
Sam Charles & Marcus Eng, the Way Back
Featured dish: New York strip, Yorkshire pudding, parsnip

Community Winner
Kelly Whitaker, Basta
Featured dish: Piada bread, burrata, allium butter
Pastry Chefs
Alberto Hernandez, Frasca Food and Wine, Pizzeria Locale
Featured dish: Buffalo yogurt panna cotta, citrus, quince, juniper
Gonzo Jimenez & David Lewis, Miette et Chocolat
Featured dish: Passionfruit-jasmine crémeux, royal basmati rice-coconut Rocher cookie, and basmati-chocolate gelée; assorted bonbons

Nate Singer, Blackbelly Market
Featured dish: Charcuterie board featuring venison salami
Spencer Bowie, Aldo Ramirez Carrasco, and Sienna Trapp-Bowie, Fortuna Chocolate
Featured dish: Huehuetan Estate chocolate
Kevin Nealon, Huckleberry Roasters
Featured drink: Kenya Karatina coffee
Patrick Kerzetski, Pizzeria Locale
Featured dish: Pizza margherita
Zach Coleman, Trve Brewing Company
Featured beer: Burning Off Impurities amber ale
Josh Gertzen and Gerry Kim, Frozen Matter
Featured dish: Strooper Dooper ice cream sandwich

Carlin Karr, Frasca Food and Wine
Chris Dunaway, the Little Nell

Austin Carson, Mizuna
Featured drink: Ghostwriter 2.0: tequila, beet, curaçao, lime, yogurt, aquafaba
Nicole Laurita, Williams & Graham
Featured drink: Vulcan Nerve Pinch: green chile vodka, lime, rosemary, bell pepper

Bryan Dayton & Steven Redzikowski, Acorn, Brider, Oak on Fourteenth
Featured dish/drink: Wagyu French dip sandwich & martini

Host Chef
Chris Starkus, Urban Farmer Denver
Featured dish: Hibiscus tea-marinated lamb, peas, sprouted grains, beet gastrique, morel dust

Knife & Shaker Award
Elliot Strathmann, Spuntino
Featured drink: ‘Tail of Two Toms: Bombay Sapphire, saffron liqueur, lemon, lime, soda, basil, Varnelli Amaro Sibilla

Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen is 5280’s former food editor. She oversaw all of 5280’s food-related coverage from October 2016 to March 2021.