Here Are The Finalists For The 2016 Foodist Awards

Kai at The Sheraton Wild Horse Pass has been nominated as a finalist in the "Innovative Restaurant Concept" category of the awards.
Kai at The Sheraton Wild Horse Pass has been nominated as a finalist in the "Innovative Restaurant Concept" category of the awards.

Every year, the Arizona Restaurant Association recognizes some of the Valley's top culinary talent with the Foodist Awards. This year, the association named three finalists in 13 categories that range from Top Chef to Premier Beer Program, with finalists running the gamut from a longstanding local steakhouse to the kitchen manager of one of Gilbert's most popular restaurants. 

According to a press release, the list of finalists was "narrowed down from publicly submitted applications by a panel of food and beverage industry experts." The winners will be announced at an event on Thursday, April 21, at the Showcase room at The Yard at Farmer Arts District in Tempe. 

The finalists for the 2016 Foodist Awards include:

Uniquely Arizona – Home to some of the oldest documented food traditions, Arizona has a rich culinary past steeped in tradition. We are searching statewide for the restaurants that embrace not only the local food but are staples of the state.

· Joe’s Real BBQ
· Lon’s at the Hermosa
· The Stockyards

Food Pioneer – Honors a lifetime of outstanding culinary excellence that continues to educate, inspire, entertain, and foster a deeper understanding of the culinary culture in Arizona.

· Joe Johnston (Liberty Market, Joe's Real BBQ, Joe's Farm Grill)
· Kevin Binkley (Binkley's, Bink's Midtown, Bink's Kitchen + Bar, Cafe Bink)
· Sam Fox (Fox Restaurant Concepts)

Top Chef – Pays tribute to outstanding culinary excellence, breaking new ground with an innovative menu while enhancing the dining experience.

· Cullen Campbell (Crudo/Okra)
· Kevin Binkley (Binkley's, Bink's Midtown, Bink's Kitchen + Bar, Cafe Bink)
· Mel Mencias (Talavera)

Innovative Restaurant Concept – Recognizes a restaurateur or restaurant group who demonstrates that they don’t follow trends; they define them, setting the bar in restaurant operations and the overall customer dining experience.

· Clever Koi
· Kai
· Ocotillo

Outstanding Multiple Location Restaurant – Honors a culinary concept with multiple locations, demonstrating exceptional achievement and commitment to excellence in marketing, menu design, and customer service.

· Nook Kitchen
· Pita Jungle
· Postino

Emerging Restaurant of the Year – Honors promising up-and-comers that demonstrate exemplary talent, showcase innovation, and have already distinguished themselves as pacesetters in food, beverage, and service.

· Craft 64 Pizza
· Flourish Restaurant
· Ocotillo

Restaurant Employee – Recognizes the front- or back-of-house employee that has set the gold standard for exemplary customer service and enhancing the overall dining experience.

· Darryl Jansen, Kitchen Manager (Joe’s Real BBQ)
· Kevin Michael Lewis, Sommelier & Beverage Director (Kai)
· Laura Baldassarre, Employee (Wildflower Bread Company)

Premier Cocktail Program – Recognizes an outstanding restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence and innovation in their cocktail program.

· Bitter & Twisted
· Counter Intuitive
· Market Street Kitchen

Premier Beer Program – Recognizes an outstanding restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence and innovation in their beer program.

· Culinary Dropout
· Four Peaks Brewing Company
· Two Brothers Tap House & Brewery

Premier Wine Program – Recognizes an outstanding restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence and innovation in their wine program.

· Lon’s at the Hermosa
· Ocotillo
· Southern Rail

Good Neighbor – Recognizes the outstanding community leadership and exceptional devotion to making a difference in our neighborhoods and community at large.

· Joy Bus
· Local First
· Salut Kitchen Bar

Outstanding Food Truck – Recognizes outstanding achievement in mobile nourishment, operations, and community development.

· Chef Wade’s Bistro on Wheels
· Frites Street
· The Rocket

Best Dish “Dessert” – Honors the restaurant that quite simply does it best.

· Butter Cake (Mastro’s)
· Orange Sky (All desserts)
· Sumo Maya (Tres Leches)

For more information, visit the Foodist Awards website


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