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Zest 2018 winners, presenters, and judges
Zest 2018 winners, presenters, and judges
Courtesy Laine Doss

Eighth-Annual JWU Zest Award Nominees Announced: Vote for New Times

In 2012, Johnson & Wales University's North Miami Campus initiated the JWU Zest Awards as a way of recognizing excellence in Miami's culinary community.

Now in their eighth year, the Zest Awards have become a respected part of the local food and beverage landscape. Many chefs and restaurateurs see the Zests as the hometown version of the nationally acclaimed James Beard Awards.

Last year's winners included Sweet Liberty (Best Bar/Lounge), Stubborn Seed (Best New Restaurant), and Macchialina (Best Boutique Restaurant). In addition, Ralph Pagano received a special Courage Award in recognition of his excellence in the culinary field, his dynamic personality, and his extreme act of courage when he pushed an employee out of harm's way when a violent explosion occurred at Resorts World Bimini.

This year, the Zests return with eight juried categories: Best Restaurant, Best Boutique Restaurant, Best New Restaurant, Best Bar & Lounge, Best Wine Program, Mixologist of the Year, Chef of the Year, and Baking & Pastry Chef of the Year.

In addition, there are two categories for readers' choice awards: Food & Drink Reporting in Traditional Media and Food & Drink Influencers. The winners are chosen by the public's vote at jwu.edu/zest. New Times has been nominated for a Zest in Traditional Media Reporting.

The winners will be announced April 17 at an awards reception and ceremony at the Rusty Pelican.

Here's the full list of the Zest 2019 nominees:

Best Restaurant (open for at least 18 months)

  • Bazaar Mar
  • Edge Steak & Bar
  • Kyu
  • La Mar by Gaston Acurio
  • La Petite Maison
  • Lightkeepers at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne
  • Palme d'Or


Best Boutique Restaurant (open for at least 18 months; 75 seats or fewer)

  • Alter
  • Bombay Darbar
  • Casa Tua
  • Ghee Indian Kitchen
  • Mignonette
  • Pubbelly Sushi at Brickell City Centre
  • Stubborn Seed


Best New Restaurant (open since January 2018 to December 2018)

  • Fiola Restaurant & Bar
  • Kaido
  • Katsuya Brickell
  • Ovation by William Levy
  • Swan
  • Three

Best Bar/Lounge

  • The Anderson
  • Bar Bevy
  • Broken Shaker
  • Mama Tried
  • MO Bar + Lounge
  • Repour Bar
  • Watr at the 1 Hotel Rooftop


Best Wine Program

  • Bourbon Steak
  • Casa Tua
  • Hakkasan Miami
  • Jaya at the Setai Miami Beach
  • Red the Steakhouse
  • StripSteak
  • Zuma


Mixologist of the Year

  • Hector Acevedo, Cocktail Cartel Company
  • Dan Binkiewicz, Mama Tried
  • Nico DeSoto, Kaido
  • Courtney Lane, Broken Shaker
  • Steven Minor, Watr at the 1 Hotel Rooftop
  • Ben Potts, Beaker & Gray
  • Derek Stillman, Beaker & Gray


Chef of the Year

  • Jeremy Ford, Stubborn Seed
  • Santiago Gomez, Cantina La Veinte and Tacology
  • Brad Kilgore, Alter, Kaido, Brava by Brad Kilgore
  • Jose Mendin, Pubbelly Group, La Placita
  • Justin Sherrer, Doce Provisions
  • Andrew Zaraosa, Yuzu Miami at St. Roch Market

Baking & Pastry Chef of the Year

  • Lazlo Bollok, Four Seasons Miami
  • Brielle Fratellone, Fontainebleau Miami Beach
  • Jamon Harper, Mandarin Oriental
  • Soraya Kilgore, MadLab Creamery
  • Sylvain Marrari, La Centrale
  • Carolina Molea, L'Artisane Creative Bakery
  • Anabella Pru, Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne
  • Dallas Wynne, Stubborn Seed


Readers' Choice: Best Food Reporting in Traditional Media

  • Check, Please! South Florida
  • Dining Out Miami
  • Eat This, Drink That, Go, With Jimmy Cefalo and Brenda Bassett
  • Eater Miami
  • Edible South Florida
  • Indulge
  • MIA Bites
  • Miami.com
  • The Miami Herald
  • Miami Modern Luxury Magazine
  • Miami New Times
  • The Naughty Fork
  • Ocean Drive Magazine


Readers' Choice: Food & Drink Influencers

  • Burger Beast
  • ChatChow
  • Fat Girl Hedonist
  • The Food-E
  • Food for Thought
  • The Hungry Post
  • Hungry Black Man
  • Miami Food Porn
  • Miami Food Pug
  • Mitch and Mel Take Miami
  • Mr. & Mrs. Eats
  • Succulent Bite


In addition, the Wynwood Yard will be presented with the 2019 Community Leader Award. To vote for the two readers' choice awards, visit jwu.edu/zest.

Disclosure: As editor of New Times' food coverage, I am part of the Zest Awards' judging process for juried categories but am in no way affiliated with the two readers' choice categories.

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