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Arizona Restaurant Association Announces the Finalists for the Inaugural Foodist Awards

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2013 has already seen the birth of one new food and beverage industry awards. This time, it's the Arizona Restaurant Association's turn to give props to "industry players embody the pursuit -- the achievement -- of excellence."

See also: - Chef Kevin Binkley a Finalist for James Beard Award - New Ripe Awards Rotten for Some Foodies

They're calling them the Foodist Awards and they've already announced the finalists for the nine categories of awards.

Not sure what a "foodist" is? Well, they're defining it as "a collective of like-minded food worshipers. A Foodist breathes and sleeps in order to eat and drink. They are bona fide food fans -- those who immerse themselves in the artistry of the food industry."

And the categories the awards are as follows:

Food Pioneer...given for dedication and leadership that has helped transform Arizona's restaurant scene into today's vibrant restaurant industry.

Top Chef ...given to an Executive Chef or Chef de Cuisine who demonstrates consistent standards of excellence and continues to break new ground while enhancing the dining experience.

Good Neighbor...given to an individual or restaurant who demonstrates exceptional community service and charitable involvement.

Master Mixologist...given to the bartender/mixologist that consistently strives to "raise the bar" for their restaurant or beverage program.

Emerging Restaurant...for an "up and coming" restaurant that demonstrates exemplary talent, shows innovation and distinguishes itself as a pacesetter.

Restaurant Concept...given to the "crème de la crème" of restaurant concepts.

Outstanding Food Truck...given to the Food Truck who demonstrates consistent standards of excellence and continues to break new ground while enhancing the mobile dining experience.

Uniquely Arizona...recognizes the restaurant that has helped shaped Arizona's culinary landscape. Restaurant must be unique to Arizona.

Multiple Location Restaurant...given to a restaurant concept with multiple locations who demonstrates consistent standards of excellence and continues to break new ground while enhancing the dining experience.

The finalists are:

(in alphabetical order)

Louis Basile, Wildflower Bread Company Justin Beckett, Beckett's Table Kevin Binkley, Binkley's America Corrales-Brotin, America's Taco Shop Cullen Campbell, Crudo Erin Defeo, Casino del Sol Craig DeMarco, Postino Wine Café El Charro Loren Emerson, Emerson Fry Bread Silvana Salcido Esparza, Barrio Cafe Rita French, Province Sam Fox, The Yard Sharisse Johnson, Macayo's Mexican Restaurants Razz Kamnitzer, Razz's Brian Malarkey, Searsucker Scottsdale Brad and Kat Moore, Short Leash Hot Dogs Richie Moe, Citizen Public House Oregano's Jeremy Pacheco, Lon's at the Hermosa Inn Pablo Perez, Nogales Hot Dogs Playground Jeff Smestad, Elote Café Clint Spotleson, Mabel's on Main St. Francis

The winner of the Food Pioneer award also has to agree to allow the Arizona Restaurant Association and industry peers "to roast them in good taste to demonstrate lifetime contributions to the industry."

The association is not disclosing the categories in which each person or restaurant has been nominated until the ceremony, which will take place on April 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Ritz Carlton. There will be a gala and four-course meal. Tickets cost $125 a person or $1,250 for a table of 10.

For more information or to purchase tickets visit the Arizona Restaurant Association website.

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