Miami's culinary leaders gathered at Johnson & Wales University last evening for the fourth annual Zest Awards. Created in 2012, the awards celebrate achievements by Miami's local restaurateurs, chefs, and culinary innovators.
Each year, the Zests get bigger and better, with more categories added annually. This year, nine awards were presented, up from six last year. In addition, Michelle Bernstein was honored with the Community Leader Award, both for her culinary achievements at Crumb on Parchment and Seagrape, and her dedication to the charity Common Threads.
The most surprised winner was Zak Stern, who won the Baking & Pastry Chef of the Year award. He accepted along with his wife and business partner, Batsheva Wulfsohn. Stern, who gave a victory high-five when receiving his trophy, said that he couldn't believe what happened over the past year and how happy he is that Miami had embraced his breads and food.
Other winners included Broken Shaker at Freehand Miami (best bar/Lounge), Zuma (best wine program), the Pubbelly Restaurant Group (best culinary innovator), Mignonette (newcomer of the year), Drunken Dragon (best boutique restaurant), Palme d'Or at the Biltmore Hotel (best restaurant), and Miami Food Pug (best food blog).
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New Times also won in the best food reporting category, which was one of two readers' choice picks, along with best food blog. For that, we thank everyone who voted for us and we hope to continue to bring you excellent coverage of the Miami food scene. Clearly, we were very happy.