The best, brightest and most innovative in the dining industry earn honors
The Arizona Restaurant Association’s (ARA) quest to find the culinary standard-bearers that embody the pursuit and the achievement of excellence in Arizona’s food scene resulted in the first winners of the Foodist Awards.
The official awards of the ARA showcase the restaurants, companies and talented people that are the very best in the industry. They are recognized for their superior business acumen, demonstrated leadership and community contributions that help shape the culinary landscape of Arizona.
“We feel strongly that pioneers and high achievers of Arizona’s restaurant industry deserve this unique recognition,” said Steve Chucri, president and CEO of the ARA. “It’s also a chance for the ARA to recognize local restaurateurs, purveyors and vendors who have distinguished themselves through superior business practices, demonstrated leadership and dedication to the restaurant community and hospitality industry as a whole.”
Here is a look at the winners and the finalists for the first Foodist Awards, who were honored at a reception at the Ritz Carlton on April 25.
Congratulations to the 2013 Foodist Awards finalists and winners!
Winner: Kevin Binkley, Binkley’s
Chef Kevin Binkley has a great passion for cooking, fine food and exceptional service. His life goal was to open an award winning restaurant, and his dreams came true with Binkley’s. With the opportunity to work at two out of the top 13 restaurants in the nation, his experience makes him quite successful in the industry.
Winner: Justin Beckett, Beckett’s Table
Chef Justin Beckett is dedicated to providing his customers with a fantastic dining experience and high quality service. Beckett brings in a majority of his products through local farmers and the culinary community. The effervescent menu of Beckett’s Table changes seasonally, specializing in American comfort foods paired with international wine selections.
- Jeremy Pecheco, LON’s at the Hermosa
- Chef Razz Kamnitzer, Razz’s
Winner: Rita French, Province, Westin Downtown
While working hard in her profession, Chef Rita French also makes a difference in the community. French works hard to do what’s best for the environment and single handedly changed the way food scraps were disposed in Arizona. She also has a very strong relationship with the Downtown Phoenix Farmer’s Market.
- Wildflower Bread Company
- Macayo’s Mexican Restaurants
MIX MASTER MIXOLOGIST OF THE YEAR
Winner: Aaron Defeo, Casino Del Sol
The Tucson native is a 12-year veteran in the state’s highest-volume nightclubs and restaurants as a bartender and beverage manager. He has competed in drink competitions on a local, regional, and national level. His cocktails have won numerous accolades. He was a finalist in the 2013 Bombay Sapphire Most Inspired Bartender competition in Las Vegas.
- Richie Moe, Citizen Public House
- Clint Spotelson, Mabel’s on Main
EMERGING RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
“Top Chef” finalist and “The Taste” judge Brian Malarkey’s menu features playful dishes that represent his fun personality showcasing New American Classic dishes with creative twists with serious flavor. Searsucker also features a striking, but inviting atmosphere.
- St. Francis
OUTSTANDING RESTAURANT INTERIOR DESIGN
Winner: Culinary Dropout at The Yard
Think of it as a backyard, front porch and kitchen all rolled into one. The Yard, one of Fox Restaurant Concepts’ biggest projects yet, transformed an old motorcycle shop near 7th Street and Bethany Home into the most distinct restaurant environment in Arizona.
Winner: Short Leash Hot Dogs
Owners Brad and Kat Moore grew tired of the corporate world and wanted to be creative and work for themselves. So in 2010, they launched Short Leash Hot Dogs, a food truck featuring gourmet hot dogs wrapped in a warm naan “bun” that quickly became a food truck favorite throughout the Metro Phoenix area.
- Emerson Fry Bread
- Nogales Hot Dogs
Winner: El Chorro of Paradise Valley
To honor the Arizona destination dining heritage, El Chorro’s culinary vision features classic cuisine favorites with a Southwestern-inspired influence. The menu offerings center on fresh, seasonal, organic and locally grown ingredients – including herbs and produce from the El Chorro garden.
- Elote Café
- Barrio Café
Oregano’s is a Chicago-style pizza restaurant specializing in thin crust, stuffed and pan pizzas. Apart from the great pizzas, Oregano’s has to-die-for salads, unique pasta dishes, great specialty drinks and patio seating. It truly is a great place for a whole family event or just an intimate gathering.
- America’s Taco Shop