DENVER — Six Colorado restaurants received nods as semifinalists for national James Beard Awards on Wednesday, while seven other chefs scored nominations as best chef in the five-state Mountain region.
The nominees represent, in many ways, a new generation of Denver eateries and chefs, with many of them scoring first-time semifinalist honors and traditionally picked Denver restaurateurs like Jen Jasinski, Frank Bonanno and Alex Seidel being left out of the mix this year.
> Video above: Restaurant group hires therapist to provide support for employees.
The slate of nominations comes after the highly regarded foundation came under criticism for a lack of diversity among its nominees in 2020 and then canceled its awards — considered the Oscars of the restaurant industry — for the past two years. The foundation will announce its winners on June 13.
Edwin Zoe — owner of Asian eateries Zoe Ma Ma, which has locations in Denver and Boulder, and Chimera Ramen in Boulder — is one of 20 semifinalists for the prestigious Restaurateur of the Year award. In addition to serving up classing northern Chinese noodle dishes, Zoe has been an outspoken workers-rights activist, having been a leader in the push to establish a soon-to-launch paid family and medical leave insurance program for all private-sector workers and having abolished tipping at his eateries in favor of higher wages and a service fee.
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