Best of the Bay 2023


Businesses, organizations, or individuals may promote nominations and votes for themselves and nominees without engaging in competitive advertising or offering goods/services in exchange for votes (quid pro quo). Any business/organization/individual that violates this rule risks disqualification from the ballot.

Celebration of the best people, places, businesses & more voted by YOU! Get your copy of Community Living’s annual winners edition to share a bite or drink and meet other prominent locals.

1. Bartender of the Year

Awarding exceptional craft cocktail showmanship to one bartender each year, this accolade recognizes their hard work and contribution to their community. Our search is for someone who has driven their business to success over the last year by innovating and leading by example – Lancaster Guardian and Morecambe Visitor’s Best of the Bay awards are a fantastic platform to recognize and reward businesses – whether your nominee is behind the bar, apprenticed in team management, or working their way through management; no matter who it may be. We want to know all about them so we can honor them appropriately!

The National Finals of USBG Presents World Class, Sponsored by DIAGEO, are an exhilarating competition pitting 30 of the country’s Top 30 bartenders against each other over two days. Comprised of three challenges, these include Garnished with Good, Walk With Me, and Speed Round. Garnished with Good asked participants to create a recipe using sustainably sourced or manufactured ingredients or processes while Walk With Me challenged bartenders to craft a bespoke drink with Johnnie Walker while Walk With Me challenged participants to craft something unique that would honor someone embodying progress; finally Speed Round required competitors to prepare and execute eight cocktails within 10 minutes using DIAGEO Reserve Spirits portfolio products – these events prove captivating events indeed!

Renato Tonelli of Brooklyn, New York, created this masterpiece using Ketel One Vodka Infused with Fig, Orange Wine, Honey, Saline Solution, and Micro herbs as garnish. Tonelli will represent his country at World Class 2023 during Tales of the Cocktail Fest 2023 from July 23-28th, 2023, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

At Creative Loafing’s annual Community’s Choice Award program, Creative Loafing gives you the power to nominate and vote for your favorite Tampa Bay restaurants, bars, shops, services, etc., in over 170 categories. Once votes are counted, and winners announced at a party attended by hundreds of area residents, Creative Loafing releases its Best of the Bay issue and offers tasting opportunities around Tampa Bay area bites and drinks, meeting notable locals while participating in live entertainment from area bands & more!

2. Wine Enthusiast of the Year

Creative Loafing’s annual Best of the Bay issue returns for another year, inviting us all to celebrate Tampa Bay’s beloved people, places, businesses, events & more as you choose! Get your copy today of Creative Loafing’s annual Best of the Bay issue to sample local food & beverages while meeting some of its most influential leaders & attending live entertainment – plus so much more!

The evening began with a wine-rich cocktail hour, where attendees indulged in samples from each night’s winner. Attendees socialized with honorees while admiring their award-winning creations that ranged from Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma County to Chardonnay from Argentina’s Uco Valley.

Wine Enthusiast Chairman Adam Strum welcomed over three hundred guests to an evening filled with tables with sparkling bottles, setting the scene for awards. Wine is unique among beverages in many ways: agricultural product, liquid food source, social ice breaker, and religious sacrament all in one! He explained its multifarious roles: of farm products through social icebreakers and holy sacrament through sensory adventure – it truly stands apart. “Wine stands alone.”

Sonoma County Tourism was honored with two awards on this night of recognition: the 2022 Destination of the Year Award and its new Kind Traveler Initiative, garnering 2022 Winery of the Year honors, respectively. Both initiatives work toward protecting Sonoma County’s natural and cultural resources for future generations.

3. Restaurant of the Year

This award recognizes restaurants that provide authentic representations of their genre. From exquisitely-curated kaiseki dining experiences like Nikki Nakayama’s esteemed Los Angeles restaurant N/Naka to over-the-top Sunday brunch buffets like Chesapeake Beach Resort’s All You Can Eat event, this category celebrates restaurants where food and service come together flawlessly.

This year, we’re pleased to reveal that Bay Area restaurants are well-represented among the 2023 Restaurant of the Year finalists. San Francisco’s modern Korean tasting menu spot Atomix, led by Chef Vince Bugtong, ranks highest on the North American list; Oakland craft cocktail lounge Viridian also cut!

Nobu Matsuhisa of Las Vegas earned top billing worldwide, while Central, in Lima, run by married chefs Virgilio Martinez and Pia Leon, was honored as South America’s finest eatery. Odette, an elegant French-leaning tasting menu in New York City, made this year’s list.

The 2023 Best of the Bay Community’s Choice Awards put voting power directly in your hands! The nomination period begins July 7 and runs through July 20. To enter, follow each link for our ten awards categories and complete a short survey allowing up to 25 entries. Nominators also have the opportunity to share their selections across social media to spread the word further!

4. Chef of the Year

Last year, Bay Area restaurants and chefs were nominated for Beard awards – considered the Oscars of culinary arts – yet all three went home empty-handed after attending Monday night’s ceremony in Chicago.

As our restaurant scene continues to develop, bright spots continue to emerge showcasing the best of regional restaurant culture – be it Corbin Mathany’s casual seafood-driven Ugly Duckling, Ross Bowles and Tracie Zahavich’s upscale French bistro Atelier or chef Mat Clarke’s elegant seafood-forward space at Sidney.

While veteran chefs continue to innovate and explore, new ones emerge. At Healdsburg’s Michelin-star SingleThread restaurant, Kyle and Katina Connaughton, chef-farmers Kyle and Katina’s own organically grown fruits of the sea, such as delicately shaved Monterey abalone with swordfish bacon, citrusy dashi broth, and subtly briny oyster ice cream have created a dining destination.

Ototo of Los Angeles took home the award for Outstanding Wine and Other Beverage Program over San Francisco’s Lazy Bear, while modern French pastry chef Margarita Manzke of Republique in Los Angeles edged out both Vince Bugtong (of Oakland’s dessert and cocktail bar Viridian) and Joanne Chang of Abaca restaurant in San Francisco to win National Best Pastry Chef or Baker.

This year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Legends have collaborated to bring culinary masters from different restaurants into the stadium for fans to enjoy during home games this season. Chef Ferrell Alvarez of Rooster & Till will first appear against the Chicago Bears on September 17. Other culinary masters expected include Gabe Lopez from Willa’s and Chef Michael Buttacavoli of Meat Market (versus Philadelphia on October 22); Sean Brasel of Donatello (vs Philadelphia on November 3); Susan Burdian and Bryce Bonsack of Rocca (vs Titans on December 2).

5. Winemaker of the Year

Paul Hobbs has long been a leader in the hospitality industry. A Winemaker of the Year winner in 2015, his talents are utilized by his label and various vineyards outside California and New York. His skills have earned him international renown, and he has become one of the critical voices promoting regenerative farming practices.

His wines speak for themselves and have helped elevate the status of Pinot Noir in America. He has received several honors, such as winning the Governor’s Cup at the New York Wine Classic and gold at the International Wine Challenge.

IWC competitions are highly judged. The 2019 IWC proved no exception, with France and Australia dominating medal tables while Egypt and Romania made their presence felt.

Award of Excellence winners boasts well-curated lists with at least 90 selections that highlight quality producers and reflect their cuisine while providing staff training and educational opportunities that allow them to provide better service for guests. Rising Star winner Hayden Puryear started his hospitality career at Larson Family Wines as a tasting room associate; his commitment and upbeat demeanor quickly made him an asset on their team, and he now prioritizes diversity, sustainability, customer satisfaction, diversity training for staff as well as continual professional development opportunities for employees. Rising Star winner Hayden Puryear quickly rose through the ranks to become an asset on their team – look at his Rising Star win – now as an associate who takes great pride in his work, commits himself, and upholds his role! Rising Star Winner Hayden Puryear made history when he won the Larson Family Wines Tasting Room associate position, becoming an asset by building relationships with customers and striving for improvement both as an employee as he prioritized diversity as well as sustainability within the work environment, which proved successful customer service experience! His dedication has resulted in numerous customer satisfaction awards being achieved thus far with regards to his customer satisfaction rating being very positive feedback with feedback being positively received with a positive customer satisfaction score from the Larson Family Wines team, of course! Rising Star Winner Hayden Puryear started his hospitality career by joining Larson Family Wines Tasting Room associate position and has already seen many times over his time working in Larson Family Wines Tasting Room associate where his skills and personality made an asset to team members with customers being an asset and striving towards improvement; ultimately being his efforts earned him becoming Rising Star award from them becoming Rising Star winner Hayden had proven track records being recognized within company teams (T/reported as Rising Star winner.). Prioritized Diversity/ Sustainability within them in terms of guest satisfaction/company! Rising Star winner Hayden Puryear before embarked! Wines tasting Room Associate position where his career flourished, making the team!! Wines. When he started his efforts, the Rising Star winner was appreciated for customer satisfaction and an outstanding team. Rising Star winner himself onward. He began with them too, becoming part of their team first, so highly appreciated when first won an offer. He started at Larsson Wines team, which is going once he got his committed work, making him at Larson Wines team’s!! Rising Star had been created before. – Rising Star winner Hayden. Rising Star awarded them as Tasting Room associates back. Larsson Wines. Rising Star winner Hayden’s Wines after becoming taste room associate. In his commitment made. He started their team and was introduced as tasting Room Assistant when joining them! Thanks, too. ‘s team; so much appreciated as a tasting room associate as a Tasting room, while team! Their team was so excellent at Larsson Wines he became invaluable when he joined them. He brought them his talent. he became another award as well! Then I won them so very impressed them too… He was also a Rising Star winner and was valued for being committed… Rising Star award!… Rising Star Winner… so much appreciated him… Rising Star, too, too…!… Rising Star! But… Rising Star too… so much…….!!)! When Larsson Family Wines….! And where – just for… Rising Star, too!!… Rising Star winner Hayden…!…… and made………! His work, making the team… Rising………..! His commitment made them!