The school created the awards in 2012 to recognize leaders in the local culinary industry, many of whom are JWU graduates.
The Zests, hosted by Veritage Miami's Lyn Farmer, were presented in nine categories (Best Bar/Lounge, Best Wine Program, Baking & Pastry Chef of the Year, Chef of the Year, Best New Restaurant, Best Boutique Restaurant, Best Restaurant, Readers' Choice — Food & Drink Influencer, and Readers' Choice — Food Reporting).
In addition, JWU North Miami Campus president Larry Rice presented a special community leader award to Alison Burgos and Michelle Gaber of Seed Food & Wine Festival. The cofounders were recognized for their commitment to "elevating the conversation around plant-based foods, sustainability, conscious living, vegan living, and the welfare of animals."
The big winner of the evening was Brad Kilgore, who received Zests for both Chef of the Year for his culinary innovations and Best Boutique Restaurant for Alter.
Other winners were Repour Bar (Best Bar/Lounge), Coya (Best Wine Program), Simon Bregardis of the Fontainebleau (Baking & Pastry Chef of the Year), Glass & Vine (Best New Restaurant), Palme d'Or at the Biltmore (Best Restaurant); and the Hungry Post (Readers' Choice — Food & Drink Influencer).
In addition, Miami New Times was presented with the award for Readers' Choice — Food Reporting.