You always hear awards’ show nominees saying the same old thing, “It’s just nice to be nominated.” In the case of the inaugural 2012 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards, the old adage couldn’t be more true.
Thursday night a packed house of chefs, restaurant staff, mixologists, sommeliers and foodies alike celebrated both nominees and award winners for a festive ceremony and celebration Thursday night at the historic Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin.
The sold out event, benefiting the Austin Food and Wine Alliance, recognized the achievements of the area’s top culinary and cocktail professionals in six categories: Restaurant, Chef, Pastry Chef, Mixologist, Wine and Beverage Service, and Décor/Atmosphere.
Leading up to the momentous awards ceremony, guests enjoyed food samples from some of the city’s most popular restaurants including Barley Swine, Uchiko, and Olive & June, Jonathan Gelman of the Driskill Grill, John Bates of the Noble Pig and Paul Peterson of Vivo. They also sipped provocative cocktails from nominated mixologists including Adam Bryan of the forthcoming Motel, Houston Eaves of Contigo, Chauncy James of East Side Show Room, Bill Norris of Alamo Drafthouse and Mike Sanders of Drink.Well Austin, who stepped in for nominee David Alan. (All cocktails were whipped up using local Texas spirits from Dripping Springs Vodka, Balcones Distilling, Treaty Oak Rum, Waterloo Gin, Z Tequila and Paula’s Texas Orange.)
The ceremony was led by famed Austin chef Jack Gilmore of Jack Allen’s Kitchen and CultureMap Editor, Kevin Benz who said, “We understand the value and importance of Austin’s culinary and cocktail scene and hope the Tastemaker Awards become an annual tradition that this industry and community looks forward to.”
Those honored with a 2012 Tastemaker Award include:
Chef David Bull, Congress
Philip Speer, Uchi/Uchiko
Chauncy James, East Side Show Room
Wine and Beverage Service
June Rodil, Congress
Best New Restaurant
(A People’s Choice Restaurant Challenge category)
(For a full list of the 2012 CultureMap Tastemaker Nominees click here.)
And while it is certainly true that each of the awards were well deserved by the nominees who earned them, it could easily be said that everyone nominated was a winner. The event was indeed a celebration of what is perhaps the most unique thing about Austin: its talented stable of food and drink professionals who not only continue to raise the bar for the city’s culinary scene but work hard to help each other to do so.
The winner for Best Chef, David Bull summed it best in his acceptance speech when he said the award not only belongs to him, but to his crew of dedicated staff who work each day to make his job possible—a veritable tribute that applied to everyone in the room who showed up to support the Austin restaurant scene.
Perhaps emcee Jack Gilmore said it best, “I’ve dined in cities all over this country and I have to say, there’s no place I’d rather go out to eat than in Austin, Texas, where our chefs, restaurant owners, mixologists and sommeliers all push each other to be better and better every year.”
Congratulations to this year’s 2012 CultureMap Tastemakers, and here’s to the eventual nominees for 2013!