Denver chef Alex Seidel wins 2018 James Beard Foundation award for best in the Southwest — The Know

Server Jill Valentich inspects wine glasses in the dining room of Mercantile Dining & Provisions inside of Union Station in Denver on Wednesday, November 5, 2014. (Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)

Denver is officially home to the best chef in the Southwest — again.

On Monday night, Alex Seidel of Mercantile Dining & Provision was announced as the winner of the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Southwest category, which includes Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

The James Beard Awards, established in 1990 and doled out annually, are considered the top honor in the food industry, a.k.a. “the Oscars of the food world,” according to the foundation’s website.

It’s a bit of déjà vu for Denver, as Siedel follows in the footsteps of fellow Denverite and “Top Chef” contestant Jennifer Jasinski (of Euclid Hall, Rioja, Stoic & Genuine and others), who won the same award in 2013 and helped kickstart the Mile High City’s ongoing food renaissance.

Of course, Seidel has been doing some heavy lifting in that space with his restaurant Fruition, which has remained among the city’s top eateries since it opened in 2007 — and which has gotten nominated for a Beard award every year for the past decade.

Mercantile, which opened in Denver’s Union Station in 2015, was an aesthetic departure from Fruition when it opened, “a contemporary room that seats 75, it is sleek to the point of stark,” according to former Denver Post food critic William Porter.

In addition to thanking his wife Melissa during his acceptance speech at the awards ceremony in Chicago last night, Seidel also name-checked his restaurants’ two chefs de cuisine, Franco Ruiz and Matt Vawter, according to Eater Denver. (The latter, he said, had to leave Chicago early Monday morning and return to Denver “to go have a baby boy.”)

(L-R) Alex Seidel, Carrie Baird, Adrienne Cheatham, Joseph Flamm, Rogelio Garcia, Claudette Wilkins, Tyler Anderson, Brother Luck, Tanya Holland in “Smile and Say Mise.” (Paul Trantow, Bravo)

Check out the full list of winners:

2018 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards

Best New Restaurant

Outstanding Baker (Presented by Taylor Precision Products)
Belinda Leong and Michel Suas
B. Patisserie
San Francisco

Outstanding Bar Program (Presented by Woodford Reserve Bourbon)
New Orleans

Outstanding Chef (Presented by All-Clad Metalcrafters)
Gabrielle Hamilton

Outstanding Pastry Chef (Presented by Lavazza)
Dolester Miles
Highlands Bar & Grill
Birmingham, AL

Outstanding Restaurant (Presented by S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water)
Highlands Bar & Grill
Birmingham, AL

Outstanding Restaurateur
Caroline Styne
The Lucques Group (Lucques, a.o.c., Tavern, and others)
Los Angeles

Outstanding Service
Zuni Café
San Francisco

Outstanding Wine Program (Presented by Robert Mondavi Winery)
Charleston, SC

Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional
Miljenko Grgich
Grgich Hills Estate
Rutherford, CA

Rising Star Chef of the Year (Presented by S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water)
Camille Cogswell

Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)
Abraham Conlon
Fat Rice

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (D.C., DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)
Jeremiah Langhorne
The Dabney
Washington, D.C.

Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)
Gavin Kaysen
Spoon and Stable

Best Chef: New York City (Five Boroughs)
Missy Robbins
Brooklyn, NY

Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NY STATE, RI, VT)
Karen Akunowicz
Myers + Chang

Best Chef: Northwest (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY)
Edouardo Jordan

Best Chef: South (AL, AR, FL, LA, MS, PR)
Nina Compton
Compère Lapin
New Orleans

Best Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV)
Rodney Scott
Rodney Scott’s BBQ
Charleston, SC

Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, CO, NM, OK, TX, UT)
Alex Seidel
Mercantile Dining & Provision

Best Chef: West (CA, HI, NV)
Dominique Crenn
Atelier Crenn
San Francisco

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