The James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards announced its return Wednesday with a list of semifinalists for the 2022 awards following a controversial year-plus hiatus.
Colorado made a considerable showing with 13 nominations for what’s widely regarded as top honors in the hospitality industry, including in categories such as “outstanding restaurateur,” “outstanding chef” and “best new restaurant.” Seven of the 20 chefs nominated as the best in the Mountain Region — which includes Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming — are from the Centennial State.
The last time James Beard announced award finalists was in 2020, when Colorado boasted six nominations. However, the awards were canceled that year — and subsequently in 2021 — due to the pandemic.
“Considering anyone to have won or lost within the current tumultuous hospitality ecosystem does not in fact feel like the right thing to do,” CEO Clare Reichenbach said at the time.
The New York Times later reported that questions about nominees’ behavior and a lack of diversity among the winners marred the awards and likely played into the cancellation. During its hiatus, the awards underwent an audit of its policies and procedures in an effort to remove systemic bias, increase diversity among those who vote on winners, and make the awards process more transparent and accessible, among other goals.