Category Archives: Award

Foodie Mag Honors MBA’s Seafood Watch Program

Bon Appétit magazine recognizes aquarium’s pioneering sustainability evaluation of seafood

Ever since I first heard about Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program, I’ve been a fan. The aquarium helps chefs, home cooks and diners select seafoods with regard to their viability and sustainability. From the days when the public was made aware that dolphins and porpoises were being killed as “bycatch” of tuna fishing practices, and that halibut, once a dominant Atlantic Ocean fish, had all but disappeared, many of us have been concerned that in enjoying the seafoods we love, we were destroying them and the oceans that nurtured them. For nearly a decade, Seafood Watch has helped us put those concerns into everyday action.

It evaluates both wild-caught and farm-raised seafoods and assigns each type to a list of whether it is a fish or shellfish that is a “Best Choice,” a “Good Alternative” or one to “Avoid.” The list is handy because the choices are not always self-evident. For instance, farmed Atlantic salmon is a fish to “Avoid,” but farmed catfish is a “Best Choice.” Imported caviar is the type to “Avoid,” while farmed caviar from sturgeon is a “Best Choice.” All imported shrimp, whgether farmed or wild-caught are to be “Avoided,” while domestic farmed shrimp is the “Best Choice.” Seafood Watch also includes health alerts and suggests better alternatives for endangered or threatened seafood species that home cooks can use.

I cheered Bon Appétit magazine’s selection of the Monterey Bay Aquarium for its 2008 Tastemaker of the Year honors in recognition of “the aquarium’s Seafood Watch program for its influential role in transforming seafood buying habits across the United States….Bon Appétit magazine selected the aquarium for its work in communicating the message of sustainable seafood at a time when many commercial fisheries are collapsing or in decline around the world.” The honor will be presented at the 11th annual Bon Appétit Awards ceremony in New York City on September 15, and the October issue will feature more details about the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s accomplishments in promoting sustainable seafood.

Seafood Watch began in 1997 as an informal set of recommendations intended for the aquarium’s own food service and animal food room operations. It has grown to a research team that produces and updates six regional pocket guides (above right) highlighting seafood items available in different parts of the United States, a national pocket guide, three Spanish-language pocket guides and a mobile version available instantly on Internet-enabled phones and PDAs. Since 1999, the aquarium has distributed more than 24 million consumer pocket guides nationwide to help individuals make seafood choices that protect the long-term health of ocean ecosystems.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium, a leader in this area, is now also working with two other conservation organizations, the Blue Ocean Institute and Environmental Defense Fund, to release new consumer guides to sustainable sushi. Sushi pocket guides and new online content will be available in mid-October. Seafood Watch is a model for consumer pocket guides produced by other institutions, including the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. Here in Colorado, Denver’s Downtown Aquarium, which is owned by Landry’s Restaurants, belongs to or partners with Earth Share, the National Marine Fisheries Service, The Nature Conservancy, the Ocean Project and other conservation organizations.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has also partnered with North America’s two largest food service companies, Compass Group and ARAMARK, which have both “made commitments to shift their purchases of millions of pounds of seafood annually to sustainable sources.” Its outreach and major buyers teams have developed partnerships with leading food service companies and restaurants, as well as more than 175 aquariums, zoos and other organizations that follow Seafood Watch guidelines and distribute pocket guides in their regions. Nationwide, more than 2,500 people have signed up as Seafood Watch Advocates, promoting sustainable seafood activities in their communities.

Bon Appétit’s recognition of Seafood Watch’s role in helping protect the health of the world’s ocean is a richly deserved honor.

Non-Existent Restaurant Wins Wine Spectator Award

Virtual restaurant reportedly wins real honor

Just yesterday, one of my recent posts received a comment from “Anonymous” taking me to task for not doing all of my own original research but rather using other media sources for some of my posts. I suspect that Anonymous does not understand how media works, and I took some time to try to explain that publications in general and individual writers rely on press releases and other sources as the foundation for some of their own work — particuarly when it is something to which the writer would have no immediate direct access.

A case in point is a post called “Fictitious Restaurant Wines Wine Spectator Award of Excellence” on a wine site called Dr. Vino. This exposé never would have fallen into my lap, but I believe it is of enlightening for anyone who dines out and admires the plaques on the walls of restaurant foyers. If wine or restaurants or the shady side of awards interests you, I urge you to read the entire post and follow the links. Here’s how it starts:

“If you decided to get a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for you
restaurant wine list, what would you need? The answer according to Robin
Goldstein is $250 and Microsoft Word. Restaurant not actually required.

“Goldstein, the author of The Wine Trials, has a posting up on a new web site
describing how he invented a restaurant name, Osteria l’Intrepido [di Milano], a riff on ‘fearless.’ Then he typed up a menu (‘a fun amalgamation of somewhat bumbling
nouvelle-Italian recipes’) and then put together a wine list, and submitted both
to Wine Spectator–along with the $250 fee. The list was approved and given an
Award of Excellence (see screenshot). “

I searched the Wine Spectator website for “Osteria L’Intrepido” or just “Intrepido,” and there are no matches on the site — nor did I see any prominent correction or acknowledgment. Dr. Vino provides a link to Goldstein’s blog about unearthing the scam, and so do I. If it were April Fools Day, I’d suspect that the outing of the scam was itself cyber-prank, but Dr. Vino has wine road cred. Written by Tyler Coleman (the Dr. referring to his Ph.D.), it won the 2007 Best Wine Blog and Best Wine Blog Writing Awards and was nominated that same year for a James Beard Award in the category of Best Website Focusing on Food, Beverage or Nutrition. I think those awards are legit.

Frasca Chef Wins Beard Award

Mackinnon-Patterson adds James Beard honors to his trophy case

The latest of many honors showered up Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, chef/partner in Boulder’s Frasca Food and Wine, is being named Best Chef in the Southwest by the James Beard Foundation. He had previously been nominated as one of the country’s best rising chefs. Like the Oscars, the Tonys or the Emmys, a nomination alone is an honor. Winning multiplies the honor. In the land of Beard, the Southwest comprises Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

Sommelier/partner Bobby Stuckey was one of five nominees in the Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional category. Both men and their restaurant have been recognized, honored, awarded and lauded — including Mackinnon-Patterson being named one of Food & Wine’s Rising Staf Chefs in 2005, and Stuckey previously won a Beard award for wine service when he was a sommelier at the Aspen’s Little Nell Hotel. Coincidentally, one of Mackinnon-Patterson’s fellow nominees for the Southwest chef award was Ryan Hardy of Montagna the Little Nell.

Last year, when I was writing a Boulder restaurant feature, I asked Stuckey how they maintain their edge and keep all these accolades from going to their heads. He replied that the high standards they must now live up to keep them on their toes. Seemingly, the Beard Foundation’s fussy judges believe they have.

It’s good that Boulderites and visitors can expect to have Frasca around for years to come. Bobby Stuckey recently told Westword‘s Jason Sheehan that the restaurant is looking to buy a suitable building of its own. Stuckey said to Sheehan, We’re looking all over the place for a building we can own so we can have a home for Frasca that we can pass down to the next generation.”

F&W’s 10 Best Chefs Revealed

Food & Wine magazine’s 10 best new chefs are celebrated at the Food & Wine Classic at Aspen every June, but the names of the class of 2008 are out. This is the 20th year that this award has been given. The latest honorees:

Jim Burke of James on 8th, Philadephia
Gerard Craft of Niche Restaurant, St. Louis
Tim Cushman of O Ya Restaurant, Boston
Jeremy Fox of Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio, Napa, CA
Koren Grieveson of Avec, Chicago
Michael Psilakis of Anthos, New York City
Ethan Stowell of Union, Seattle
Guiseppe Tentori of Boka, Chicago
Eric Warnstedt of Hen of the Wood, Waterbury, VT
Sue Zemanick of Gautreau’s, New Orleans

The coast-to-coast variety is commendable, and I’m happy that along with Anthos in the highest of midtown Manhattan’s high-rent districts with appetizers approaching $20 and $28-$38, entrees, the editors selected Vermont’s Hen of the Wood, located in an old gristmill, with $20 chalkboard specials. And I’m tickled by Ubuntu whose website features a photo of Nelson Mandela and which combines a vegetarian restaurant with a yoga studio.

Of course, I’m sorry no Colorado chef made the cut this year. Of the 200 chefs honored so far, four have been from Colorado, which puts us way behind New York, Illinois, California and other states but light-years ahead of so many others that have never had even one chef on F&W’s top ten list. Past Colorado winners are Charles Dale of Renaissance, Aspen (now closed); James Mazzio, then of Boulder’s 15 Degrees (now closed) and currently consulting for several Denver restaurants; Bryan Moscatello of Denver’s Adega (now closed) and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson of Boulder’s Frasca Food & Wine.

Colorado’s Three James Beard Nominees

Two chefs and one reviewer in line for prestigious honors, plus two new master sommeliers

New York’s James Beard Foundation has announced nominees for its 2008 awards. In the best chefs of the Southwest category, Coloradans are Lachand Mackinnon-Patterson of Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder and Ryan Hardy of Montagna in Aspen’s Little Nell Hotel. Jason Sheehan of Westword has been nominated for restaurant reviews. The awards will be presented on June 8 at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. You don’t want to know how much the tickets cost, should you want to attend to cheer on a Colorado favorite.

Speaking of Frasca, the restaurants Jesse Becker recently passed the grueling master sommelier exam — a three-parter that includes an oral exam about wine, spirits and cigars (cigars!!!); tasting, describing and correctly identifying six wines within 25 minutes; and a practical exam in which they carry out sommelier duties at multiple tables of wine professionals pretending to be demanding restaurant customers. With Becker’s achievement, Frasca is one of just three restaurants in the country with two master sommeliers. Co-owner Bobby Stuckey is, of course, the first. Nate Ready, another master sommelier, was with Frasca when he passed the exam, but he left the restaurant business for the retail business and now is at the Boulder Wine Merchant, the only store in the country with three master sommeliers (co-owners Wayne Belding and Sally Mohr being the others). In addition to Becker, Sean Razee of the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Beaver Creek achieved master sommelier status.

Make that “Colorado’s Four James Beard Nominees”

As visitor “John” commented, Frasca’s Bobby Stuckey was also nominated for thr 2008 Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional Award, which I hastily scrolled past when I was composing the post above. Thanks, John. And wouldn’t it be fabulous if Frasca’s partners brought a pair of Beards back to Boulder?

Accolade from blogged.com

In the words of the song from “Peter Pan,” I gotta crow! I received the following message from the managing editor of blogged.com:

“Our editors recently reviewed your blog and have given it an 8.6 score out
of (10). Your blog is currently in the top ten in the Shopping/Restaurants
category of Blogged.com. This is quite an achievement!

We evaluated your blog based on the following criteria: Frequency of Updates,
Relevance of Content, Site Design, and Writing Style.

After carefully reviewing each of these criteria, your site was given its
8.6 score. Please accept my congratulations on a blog well-done!!”

Of course, I checked on the other blogs cited. The top 20 list scores ranged from 8.0 to 9.4. Four were rated 9.0, but no blog achieved a perfect 10. That puts CulinaryColorado in fhe middle of the top 20 of 126 blogs in the food/restaurant category in terms of points. It just squeaked into the top 10. Click on the link above and check it out yourself.

AAA Five Diamonds to Penrose Room


The elegant Penrose Room at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs has become the state’s first and only restaurant to be awarded Five Diamonds from AAA. This is a very big honor. Only 57 restaurants in all of North America and Bermuda were on the previous Five Diamond list; the Penrose Room’s announcement (and celebratory lunch) took place just yesteday, and the full updated list has not been published yet — or at least I have not seen it. However, I don’t imagine there will be many more retaurants on this year’s roster than on the last one.

The AAA Five Diamond criteria are rigid, and the anonymous evaluators are merciless. They are not inclined to overlook even the smallest flaws in the culinary, hospitality or service aspects of a fine dining restaurant — the things that elevate a restaurant (or hotel) from a very commendable Four Stars to a rarifed fifth. In addition to the established objective criteria, seamlessness and consistency are taken into account in evaluating a restaurant for such a high honor. It is said that the leap from Four to Five diamonds is one of the most difficult for a restaurant to achieve

Bertrand Bouquin (right), executive chef both of the Penrose Room and Summit restaurant, has been there before. He came to The Broadmoor from the Masionette in Cincinnati, which held AAA’s Five Diamond award for a record 41 years until it closed in 2005. I fully expect the Penrose Room to reach such longevity as one of AAA’s top-shelf restaurants. After all, in the hotel category, The Broadmoor has earned Five Diamonds from AAA for 31 years, Five Stars from Mobil for 48 years and top honors from other organizations and magazines that publish annual lists of “bests” and “favorites.”

In addition to being a tribute to Bouquin, the Five Diamond Award, by extension, honored Broadmoor president and CEO Stephen J. Bartolin, food and beverage manager Craig Reed, Broadmoor executive chef Siegfried Eichenberger (below, far right), and the Broadmoor wine director Tim Baldwin. Specifically for the Penrose Room, Bouquin’s culinary and service teammates are headed by executive restaurant pastry chef Rèmy Frünfrock (near right), general manager/maitre d’ Duane Thompson and sommeliers Wendi Walk and Evan Faber. The whole team — from top toques to busboys — came out after lunch for a well-deserved ovation.

The Penrose Room was totally remodeled less than two years ago, and like other Broadmoor makeovers, it was done so perfectly that one would think it has looked just that way since the hotel opened in 1918 (90th anniversary coming right up!). In fact, today’s interpretation of early 20th-century style is much more opulent and elegant the the original, and in another fact, the Penrose Room opened “recently” — in 1961. It crowns the South Tower, with stunning westward views toward Cheyenne Mountain and eastward overlooking Colorado Springs and the Plains beyond.

During yesterday’s celebratory luncheon, the kitchen and wait staffs demonstrated why the Penrose Room earned its fifth diamond. Perfect, discreet service. Perfect attention to detail. Exquisite presentation. After drinks and beautiful passed hors d’oeuvres in the lounge, the following lunch was served in the Penrose Room:

Amuse Bouche

Black Truffle Gnocchi and Wild Mushroom Fricassée

A Tasting of Penrose Room Appetizers

Foie Gras Ballotine with Caramelized Apple Butter
American Kobe Beef Tartare with Harissa Relish
Golden Beets Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios
Dungeness Crab Bisque
Ahi Tuna Carpaccio and Crispy Sweet Bread “Virtello Tannato”

Wine: C. von Schubert, Maximum Grünhäuser Herrenberg Riesling, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany, 2005

Entrée

Halibut Slowly Cooked in Black Olive Oil and Roasted Maine Lobster
Baby Root Vegetables with Lovage

Wine: Ghislaine Berthod, 1er Cru Les Véroilles Chambolle-Musigny, Burgundy, France, 2004

Dessert

Venezuelan Chocolate Parfait with Cocoa Nougatine
Salted Caramels
Pear William Ice Cream
Wine: Royal Tokaji, Aszú 5 Puttonyos, Hungary, 2003

Coffee, Tea and Chocolates and Mignardises

While the lunch was swank and swell, the welcome was warm and genuine — which is another element that AAA’s full-time evaluators consider. What an honor for the Penrose Room. What an honor for The Broadmoor. What an honor for Colorado. What an honor for me to have been among the guests who celebrated this award.