Josh Niernberg, Chef and Owner of Bin707 Foodbar is a
2020 James Beard Award Semifinalist
(Grand Junction, Colo.)—February 26, 2020. Josh Niernberg, chef and owner of the renowned Bin707 Foodbar of Grand Junction, has been recognized as a 2020 James Beard Award Semifinalist, in the Best Chef: Mountain category.
A pioneering architect of New West cuisine, Niernberg has grown a reputation as a regional flag-bearer whose presence at acclaimed events such as Slow Food Nations, Food & Wine Classic Aspen, and the Great American Beer Festival, has caught the attention of wider culinary audiences over the years. A former competitive snowboarder turned self-taught culinary visionary and restaurateur, Niernberg is known for putting the less-chartered Western Colorado region and the city of Grand Junction on the food map while utilizing the wider Mountain region as his sourcing footprint.
The James Beard Foundation Awards (JBFA) are awarded each year to culinary professionals, often touted as the restaurant industry’s “Oscars”. In 2019, the JBFA announced the award categories would be redistricted, with a new Mountain region covering the states of Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming.
“To be recognized as a James Beard Award Semifinalist is such an honor, and I am so proud to help raise the profile of the Mountain region,” said Niernberg. “My goal has always been for diners to take away the story of Grand Junction and Western Colorado in a single dish. I am proud to represent my state—most especially the Western Slope— and my hometown of Grand Junction. I am also representing the community of talented Colorado farmers and producers I work with every day.”
In an effort to be closer to Colorado’s “bread-basket”, Niernberg, a fourth-generation Denverite, whose ancestors immigrated west during the mining boom of the late 19th Century, moved from Denver to Grand Junction. A place of unlimited natural resources, Grand Junction is situated along the banks of the Colorado River and framed by soaring red rock monoliths of Colorado National Monument. For centuries Grand Junction was, as it still is today, known as a crossroads – where the mountains meet the desert.
With a vision and dogged determination, in 2011 Niernberg alongside his wife and business partner Jodi, opened Bin 707 Foodbar, Grand Junction’s first elevated dining experience. Almost immediately, Bin 707 became a place where local cowboys and oilmen, alongside visiting wine tourists and mountain bikers, could gather to experience the best of New West cuisine.
With great success at Bin 707 Foodbar, in 2017 Niernberg opened two new restaurant spaces: Taco Party in downtown Grand Junction, the ultimate celebration of his regional, slow food ethos, and adjacent space, Dinner Party, an event dining concept where seasonally accurate menus rotate to showcase hyper-local ingredients. Here, Niernberg has created a think tank where he can play with his most avant-garde ideas and stretch his creativity to design multi-course food and wine pairings.
Niernberg’s mastery shines not only in the kitchen but in connections he has made with those who grow the foods he interprets. Using indigenous Ute Tribe maize for blue corn grits, he tops them with lion’s mane and oyster mushrooms grown by nearby Alpenglow Aquaponics, piling them with in-house smoked tomato and fresh radishes. He also brings that same indigenous Ute corn to an immigrant tortilla maker in Grand Junction where 10,000 tortillas a week are crafted for Taco Party. These tacos are then filled with an abundance of regionally grown produce and proteins such as Colorado Lamb, almost all ingredients exclusively sourced from the Grand Valley.
Niernberg regularly assists in planning crops to fill his menus, and farmers know their crop surpluses – whether sunchokes, beets or fava beans – are welcomed at the backdoor of Bin 707, where he may ferment their produce into miso or Koji, make puffed Colorado quinoa, preserve Slow Food Ark of Taste elephant plums Umeboshi-style. Using his own ancestor’s recipes and those of his team, Chef Niernberg has provided a framework for New West cuisine. He pairs dishes such as smoked beets with puffed elk tendon and local farm egg, with wild fermented unfiltered sparkling wines from Grand Valley AVA winemakers within the same zip code of his kitchen.
In building this structure of the New West, Niernberg has become a mentor to other young chefs looking to add to his culinary narrative. Former Bin 707 chefs have opened up smaller restaurants in the area, and are frequent collaborators during summer events that highlight New West’s own food culture.
Bin707 Media Contact: Sarah-Jane Johnson | s[email protected] | 310.854.2408
www.bin707.com | Follow on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter: @bin707foodbar, @tacopartygj, @dinnerpartygj, #thenewwest