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

In 2012, Johnson & Wales University's North Miami Campus initiated the JWU Zest Awards, which recognize the local culinary community for excellence.

The awards have become an integral part of Miami's food-and-beverage landscape. Chefs and restaurateurs acknowledge the Zests as Miami's homegrown version of the nationally acclaimed James Beard Awards.

Last year's Zest winners included Brad Kilgore's Alter (best new restaurant), Sugarcane's Timon Balloo (culinary innovator), and Antonio Bachour (baking and pastry innovator).

This year, Zests will be awarded in seven juried categories: Best Restaurant, Best Boutique Restaurant, Best New Restaurant, Best Bar & Lounge, Best Wine Program, Chef of the Year, and Baking & Pastry Chef of the Year.

In addition, there are two categories for Reader's 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 reporting.

Disclosure: As editor of New Times' food coverage, I am also part of the judging committee for the seven juried categories. I am not in any way involved in the Reader's Choice categories.

The winners will be announced March 29 from 7 to 9 p.m. at an awards reception and ceremony at Johnson & Wales University's Wildcat Center. During the reception, Alison Burgos of Seed Food & Wine Festival will receive the annual community leader award (individual or organization) for her commitment to educating Miami about the benefits of a plant-based diet.

Here's the full list of 2017 Zest nominees:

Best Restaurant (open for at least 18 months)
La Mar by Gaston Acurio
Matador Room
Palme d'Or
Quality Meats

Best Boutique Restaurant (open for at least 18 months; 75 seats or fewer)
Eating House
Chef Adrianne's Vineyard Restaurant & Wine Bar
Drunken Dragon
Michael's Genuine Food & Drink

Best New Restaurant (opened since September 2015 to September 2016)
Bachour Bakery & Bistro
Brava by Brad Kilgore
Glass & Vine
PB Station
Phuc Yea
Sarsaparilla Club

Best Bar & Lounge
Broken Shaker
MO Bar at the Mandarin Oriental
Pawn Broker
Repour Bar
Sweet Liberty

Best Wine Program
Bourbon Steak
Casa Tua
Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
Stripsteak by Michael Mina

Chef of the Year
Eileen Andrade, Finka Table & Tap
Jeremy Ford, the Matador Room at Edition
Brad Kilgore, Alter and Brava by Brad Kilgore
Jose Mendin, Pubbelly Restaurant Group
Xavier Torres, Drunken Dragon

Baking & Pastry Chef of the Year
Simon Bregardis, Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Soraya Kilgore, Alter
John Martinez, Ritz-Carlton South Beach
Michelle Negron, Timo
Levi Richard, Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne
Camila Velez, SLS Brickell

Reader's Choice: Food & Drink Reporting in Traditional Media
Eater Miami
Edible South Florida
Miami Herald
Miami Modern Luxury Magazine
Miami New Times
Ocean Drive
South Florida Food & Wine
The Naughty Fork
WLRN Topical Currents' "Food News & Views" with Linda Gassenheimer

Reader's Choice: Food & Drink Influencers
Adventures of the Foodaholic
Burger Beast
Chat Chow
Fatgirl Hedonist
Hungry Black Man
Knock on Food
MIA Bites
Miami Food Pug
Mitch and Mel Take Miami
The Hungry Post

To vote for your picks, visit jwu.edu/zest.

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