JWU ZEST™ Awards

2019 JWU North Miami ZEST Award Winners

The ZEST™ Awards was created in 2012 to showcase and honor leaders in culinary arts within the South Florida region. From newcomers to established chefs, the ZEST™ Awards honors all its nominees in each categories for their respective accomplishments. Each year, the event attracts chefs, culinary entrepreneurs and community leaders from across the region, including JWU alums and industry professionals, to celebrate and honor South Florida’s rich culinary heritage.

This April, Johnson & Wales University’s North Miami Campus hosted the 8th annual ZEST™ Awards, which showcased South Florida’s culinary leaders in 11 award categories.

APRIL 2019: UPDATED TO INCLUDE WINNERS


2019 NOMINEES

Best Restaurant: This award is given to a local restaurant that stood out above the rest both for its delicious food and talented culinary team.

  • Bazaar Mar
  • EDGE Steak & Bar
  • KYU
  • La Mar by Gaston Acurio WINNER
  • La Petite Maison
  • Lightkeepers at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne
  • Palme d’Or

Best Boutique Restaurant: This award is given to an independent, chef-owned or operated restaurant that stood out above the rest both for its delicious food and talented culinary team.

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

Best New Restaurant: This award is given to a new restaurant that has quickly garnered a loyal foodie following.

  • Fiola Ristorante & Bar WINNER
  • KAIDO
  • Katsuya Brickell
  • Ovation by William Levy
  • Root & Bone
  • Swan
  • Three

Best Bar/Lounge: This award is given to a local bar/lounge that has shown excellence in finding the best wines or creating the best cocktails.

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

Best Wine Program: This award is given to a local restaurant that has demonstrated discriminating taste in offering and exceptional wine program for its guest.

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

Mixologist of the Year: Given to a local mixologist who has shown exemplary creativity in crafting the best cocktails.

  • Hector Acevedo, Cocktail Cartel Company WINNER
  • Dan Binkiewicz, Mama Tried
  • Nico DeSoto, KAIDO
  • Courtney Lane, Broken Shaker
  • Steven Minor, Watr at the1 Hotel Rooftop
  • Ben Potts, Beaker & Gray
  • Derek Stillman, Beaker & Gray

Chef of the Year: This award honors a local chef who has created innovative menu items and restaurant concepts. 

  • Jeremy Ford WINNER
  • Santiago Gomez
  • Brad Kilgore
  • Jose Mendin
  • Justin Sherrer
  • Andrew Zarzosa

Baking and Pastry Chef of the Year: This award is given to a local baking & pastry chef who has shown exemplary creativity and excelle through innovative menu items.

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

Community Leader: This award is presented to a community member who has strengthened the community through culinary efforts in the South Florida region.

  • Wynwood Yard WINNER

Reader’s Choice Food & Drink Influencer: This award is given to a local food blogger that has shown excellence in covering South Florida’s culinary landscape.

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

Reader’s Choice Best Food Reporting: This award is given to a local media outlet that has shown excellence in covering South Florida’s culinary landscape. 

  • “Check, Please! South Florida” WINNER
  • Dining Out Miami
  • “Eat This, Drink That, Go! with Jimmy Cefalo & Brenda Bassett”
  • EaterMiami.com
  • Edible South Florida
  • Indulge
  • MIA Bites
  • Miami.com
  • The Miami Herald
  • MIAMI Modern Luxury Magazine
  • Miami New Times
  • The Naughty Fork
  • Ocean Drive

2018 Winners:

  • Best Restaurant: Zuma
  • Best Boutique Restaurant: Macchialina
  • Best New Restaurant: Stubborn Seed
  • Best Bar/Lounge: Sweet Liberty
  • Best Wine Program: Upland
  • Baking & Pastry Chef of the Year: Jason Morale, SLS South Beach
  • Chef of the Year: Sergio Sigala
  • Reader’s Choice Best Food & Drink Influencer: Miami Chef
  • Reader’s Choice Best Food Reporting (Traditional Media): SoFlo Taste
  • Changing the Way the World Eats: Plant Miami
  • Courage Award: Ralph Pagano
  • Community Leader: The Education Fund

2016 Winners:

  • Best Restaurant: Sugarcane
  • Best Boutique Restaurant: R House Wynwood
  • Best New Restaurant: Alter
  • Best Bar/Lounge: Matador
  • Best Wine Program: Timo
  • Baking and Pastry Innovator: Antonio Bachour, St. Regis
  • Culinary Innovator: Timon Balloo
  • Eater’s Choice: The Lunchbox, Miami’s first zero waste restaurant, opens 
  • Community Leader: Rev. Ronald Brummitt, president of Miami Rescue Mission

2015 winners:

  • Best Restaurant: Palme d’Or at the Biltmore Hotel
  • Best Boutique Restaurant: Drunken Dragon
  • Best Bar/Lounge: Broken Shaker at Freehand Miami 
  • Best Wine Program: Zuma
  • Baking and Pastry Innovator: Zak Stern, Zak the Baker
  • Culinary Innovator: Jose Mendin, Pubbelly Group
  • Reader’s Choice Best Food Blogger: Miami Food Pug
  • Reader’s Choice Best Food Reporting: Short Order (Miami New Times)
  • Community Leader: Michelle Bernstein