This year's James Beard Awards semifinalists — which many consider the Oscars of the restaurant industry — are out with several nods to Denver-area nosheries.
Here are the contenders:
Best Chef Southwest: Alex Seidel, Fruition; Max MacKissock, The Squeaky Bean; and MacKissock's wife, Jennifer Jasinski, Rioja (which should make for some interesting pillow talk).
Rising Star Chef of the Year: Jorel Pierce, Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen (who works for owner Jasinski).
Outstanding Wine Program: Frasca, Boulder.
Outstanding Restaurateur: Frank Bonanno, owner of Mizuna, Luca d'Italia, Osteria Marco, Russell's Smokehouse and more.
Outstanding Bar Program: Williams & Graham.
Finalists will be announced March 18; awards ceremony (a fancy-schmancy affair in New York City) is May 6.
Ski scene seen
If you're a “Today” show watcher, you know that lead host Matt Lauer was absent from the show last week. According to my spy, Lauer and his family were spotted on a ski vacation in Vail.
Meanwhile, over at Avon, another spy reports that Academy-Award-winning actress Frances McDormand and her filmmaker-husband Joel Coen were staying at The Westin Riverfront last week.
I was told that “they are skiing and relaxing.”
Art from the heart
The Madden Museum of Art, 6363 S. Fiddlers Green Circle in Greenwood Village, is opening “Inspired by Art: The Building of a Legacy,” which showcases the artwork collected by John and Marjorie Madden during their 50 years of world travel, exploration, philanthropy and office building development, with a reception from 6-9 p.m. March 16.
The permanent installation is the sum of 50 years of collecting and is curated by Museum of Outdoor Arts executive director and co-founder Cynthia Madden Leitner. The opening celebration will feature traditional Irish fare, cocktails, refreshments and Celtic-themed entertainment.
John Madden formed the John Madden Company, a real estate development business, in the mid-1960s, which continues to operate today. The Maddens call Denver home. For more information, go to www.maddenmuseum.com.
Limelight for LoDo
The Limelight Awards, LoDo's coveted annual awards and meeting event, takes place beginning at 5:30 p.m. March 14 with a silent auction and cocktail reception at the historic McNichols Civic Center Building at 14 W. Colfax Ave. (on the corner of Colfax and Bannock).
The event recognizes LoDo's notables for their achievements in 2012. Your ticket includes Wynkoop Brewing Company suds, an assortment of fine wines, Ceren vodka cocktails, fine fare, live music and an evening of glamorous networking.
Please RSVP by March 1. Tickets can be purchased online at www.lodo.org or by contacting email@example.com or by calling 303-628-5428.
Wolff quitting Goodwill
After nearly three years as president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Denver, Jesse Wolff has announced he is resigning.
During his tenure, Wolff has made a significant impact growing the venerable nonprofit's mission, building the brand, investing in its employees and facilities and transforming the culture of the organization.
Since Wolff was hired in 2010, Goodwill's revenues have nearly doubled and community donations have increased significantly. Also under Wolff's leadership, Goodwill has created nearly 500 new jobs in Denver and northern Colorado, and the company is now among the 60 largest private employers in the state with nearly 1,400 employees.
Also over the last three years, Goodwill has opened 15 new retail stores, Outlet Worlds and donation centers — contributing millions in economic impact to the state.
“This was not an easy decision to make,” Wolff said. “In my time at Goodwill, thanks to the hard work of so many talented, hard-working employees across the company we've accomplished so much — we've increased revenues by more than 40 percent, we've increased the reach of our mission programs tremendously and we added 500 new jobs, just to name a few. The transformation of Goodwill that I envisioned has become a reality and I feel like I'm leaving Goodwill in a really good place.
“The decision of who will replace me will ultimately be made by Goodwill's Board of Directors led by Carrie Mesch. I feel we have one of the strongest boards a nonprofit could ask for, so I am confident they will find someone who will continue to lead Goodwill on its path of increased mission impact, retail growth and employee investment.”
Upon Wolff's departure, for which a date has not yet been set, David Brunick, Goodwill's vice president of human resources, will act as interim CEO.
Eat your heart out
5280, Denver's “Mile High magazine” is looking for a restaurant critic who can “build upon the success for their established food coverage.” If you think you're the ideal candidate, email a brief cover letter, resume, three clips, and a sample restaurant review to firstname.lastname@example.org. No phone calls!
Penny Parker's “Mile High Life” column gives insights into the best events, restaurants, businesses, parties and people throughout the metro area. Parker also writes for Blacktie-Colorado.com. She can be reached at email@example.com or at 303-619-5209.