For the very first time, Fort Worth food fans and cocktail connoisseurs got to raise a glass to the city's top restaurants, bars, and culinary masters at the inaugural CultureMap Fort Worth Tastemaker Awards.
Held Tuesday, May 10 at the 4 Eleven venue, the evening not only honored the very best of Fort Worth's culinary scene, but it dished up a hedonistic feast for a capacity crowd of 400.
Nominated chefs and restaurants served spectacular bites, and hard-working bartenders whipped up cocktails at lightning speed. A portion of the proceeds benefited Funky Town Fridge, which fights food insecurity in Fort Worth.
Lines formed quickly for small plates and samples from some of Fort Worth's most popular and influential eateries, spread out across two stories in the historic building. Hungry guests were spotted going back for seconds for dishes including:
- Asian Zing Nachos served on house-fried wonton chips from Chef of the Year nominee Katrina Carpenter of Carpenter's Cafe.
- Shortrib with Peanut Butter and Jelly Sauces from Chef of the Year nominee Nico Sanchez of Del Toro BBQ.
- Jerk-Seasoned Yellowfin Tuna Tostadas from Best New Restaurant nominee The Fitzgerald.
- Enchiladas with Pappas Bravas and Elite Dulcet from Chef of the Year nominee Mary Perez of Enchiladas Ole.
- Candied Bacon-topped Cinnamon Rolls from Best Breakfast nominee Ol' South Pancake House.
- House-made Mushroom and Chickpea Sliders from Best New Restaurant nominee Zonk Burgers.
- Parmesan Bagel with Honey, Whipped Cherry Farmers Cheese, and a dragonfly-shaped Black Garlic Tuille from Chef of the Year nominee Jenny Castor of Luckybee Kitchen.
- Potato Leek Pizza from Best New Restaurant nominee Pizza Verde.
- Mini King Cakes and French Quarter Beignets from Best New Restaurant nominee Dusty Biscuit Beignets.
- Deviled Eggs with Koji Beet, Coconut Curry Yolk from Chef of the Year nominee Jenna Kinard of Jellico's.
- Roasted Garlic Hummus with Watermelon Radish from Best New Restaurant nominee Courtside Kitchen.
And, Bar of the Year nominee WineHaus helped wash down the tasty bites with Haus-made Strawberry Frosés.
VIP ticket-holders could arrive early to valet park easily and mingle at a dedicated bar just for them. Beer drinkers made themselves at home in the Beer Garden presented by Deep Ellum Brewing Company and Ellum Ranch Patio Water.
The main bar poured signature cocktails featuring the spirits of sponsors Maestro Dobel Tequila and The Bardstown Bourbon Company: The Bardstown Bourbon Strawberry Smash, Bardstown Fusion Mule, and Dobel Ranch Water. Guests paced themselves with plenty of Topo Chico.
But this party wasn't just a feeding frenzy; we had some awards to present. Celebrity emcee, comedian CJ Starr, announced winners in four categories from restaurants and bars across Fort Worth; acclaimed chef and last year's Tastemaker Hero Award winner Jon Bonnell pitched in to present the prestigious award for Chef of the Year.
The nominees and winners were selected by judges consisting of past winners, food and beverage industry experts, and CultureMap editors (Jason Suder, Celestina Blok, Malcolm Mayhew, Laurie Barker James, Eric Griffey, Amanda Going, Teresa Gubbins, and Stephanie Allmon Merry) — all except one category, Best New Restaurant, selected by readers in a bracket-style competition on our website.
The winners were:
- Best New Restaurant: Dusty Biscuit Beignets
- Chef of the Year: Jenny Castor, Luckybee Kitchen
- Restaurant of the Year: Belenty's Love Vegan Mexican Restaurant
- Bar of the Year: The Lobby Bar at Hotel Dryce
- Best Breakfast: Ol' South Pancake House
Winners accepted gorgeous glass trophies onstage and posed for pictures; some groups even streamed the presentation live on social media for their fans to watch at home.
Between feasting and celebrating, guests stopped to snap Insta-worthy photos at the photo booths and bought raffle tickets benefiting Funky Town Fridge. Founder Kendra Richardson gave heartfelt remarks about the mission of the organization.
Spotted in the crowd, having great foodie fun, were Dallas dining VIPS, award nominees, and guests including: Kelci Cox, Erin Louis, Josie Villa-Singleton, Crystal Vastine, Michelle Payne, Rodney Lambert, Nancy Lamb, Danette Wicker, Keely Burke, Greg Pawlowski, Christopher Falcon, Sandra Falcon, Margie Shynk, Sarah White, Joseph Whitaker, Brandon Watson, Krystal Watson, Sarah Whitaker, Lauren Phillips, Andrea Ordonez, Lindsey Wilson, Jeff Hummel, Chloe Barney, Taylor Pena, Taylor McNair, Sara Maschmeyer, Amanda Yunger, Shannon Osbakken, Sarah Allen, Robert Yunger, Willie Lindsay, Robert Judy, Katherine Stephens, Jada Nicome, Michael Rihani, Jordan Rihani, Fabian Alvarado, Quincy WallacekTam Taylor, Tricia Dalton, Melissa Howard, and Alex Martin.
Hungry to be a part of it all next year? You can read about all the winners here, and we'll see you in 2023. Cheers!