CT Chefs, Bakers, Bartenders, & Servers Compete For 2019 CRAzies Awards: YOU VOTE!

Stephanie Webster
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CTbites was thrilled to be a part of the judging process for the 2019 CRAzies Awards Gala presented by the Connecticut Restaurant Association. Each year, the CRAzies recognizes the exceptional ability and talent of Connecticut’s restaurant community. More than 700 Restaurant owners, operators, chefs, vendors and more will come together to celebrate the success of the industry at their awards gala at Foxwoods Resort Casino on Monday, December 2. VOTE here for your favorites.

This year’s nominees were selected by the nominating panel, who took direction from the public vote. Restaurateur of the Year, CT Hospitality Hall of Fame and Vendor of the Year nominees were brought to the CRA Board of Directors, where the overall winners were selected in each of these three categories.

As for the remaining categories, the public can now vote by clicking here through the end of November for each category: Chef of the Year, Pastry Chef/Baker of the Year, Bartender of the Year, Server of the Year, Caterer of the Year, Restaurant Newcomer of the Year, Regional Restaurants of the Year and the Overall Restaurant of the Year. Winners will be selected from not only the public vote, but also each panel member will cast a final vote as well.  

The 2019 Restaurateur of the Year honoree is Helmar Wolf of the Mill Restaurant Group, who owns and operates Mill on the River (South Windsor), Abigail’s (Simsbury), Market Grille (Manchester), Republic Gastropub (Bloomfield) and Republic at the Linden (Hartford).

The Connecticut Hospitality Hall of Fame inductees for 2019 will be The Captain Daniel Packer Inne (Mystic) and Modern Apizza (New Haven).  The CRA Vendor of the Year is Allan S. Goodman, which is a family-owned full-service wine and spirit wholesale distributor that is based in East Hartford, Conn.

“We are excited to announce our award winners and nominees for the 2019 CRAzies, as it will once again showcase the best-of-the-best from our industry,” said CRA Executive Director Scott Dolch. “I also want to thank the efforts of our nominating panel who helped provide new insight and guidance into the selection process.”

As for the nominees, one of the most coveted awards each year is the CRA’s Chef of the Year. The six finalists for 2019 include Arturo Franco-Camacho from Shell & Bones (New Haven), Joel Gargano from Grano Arso (Chester), Jeff Lizotte from Present Company (Simsbury), Joel Viehland from Swyft (Kent), Luke Venner from Elm (New Canaan) and Ki’Yen Yeung from Tiger Belly Noodle Bar (Granby).

A new category for 2019 is Pastry Chef/Baker of the Year and the finalists are James Arena from Arethusa al tavolo (Bantam), Kristin Eddy from Millwright’s (Simsbury), Whang Suh from Hen & Heifer (Guilford), Rob Vankeuren from Flour Water Salt Bread (Darien) and Adam Young from Sift Bake Shop (Mystic).

The Bartender of the Year finalists are Chris Murphy from The Whelk (Westport), Moises Ramirez from Ordinary (New Haven), Daniel Rek from Elm City Social (New Haven), Christine Short from Zaragoza (New Milford), and Michela Zurstadt from High George (New Haven).

The Server of the Year finalists are Dru Conway from Oyster Club (Mystic), Martie Pollard from M/Bar (Mystic), Joelle Pagani from Cafémantic (Willimantic), Tom Sergi from Roma Ristorante (Watertown) and Steve Young from Bricco Trattoria (West Hartford).

The Caterer of the Year finalists are Craft Bird Food Truck (Hartford), DORO Catering (West Hartford), Forks & Fingers (East Haven), Mercado (Glastonbury) and Tim LaBant Catering (Wilton).

The CRA Restaurant Newcomer award highlights the best new restaurants in Connecticut and the 2019 finalists are Gaudi Tapas & Wine (Danbury), Olmo (New Haven), Tavern on State (New Haven), Swyft (Kent) and Whitecrest Eatery (Stonington).

The final category is the Restaurant of the Year, where the CRA recognizes four different regional winners from throughout the state, as well as an overall winner from the sixteen nominees.

Finalists from the North Region (Hartford & Tolland Counties) are Millwright’s (Simsbury), Present Company (Simsbury), Restaurant Bricco (West Hartford) and Zohara (West Hartford).

The South Region (Middlesex & New Haven Counties) finalists are Grano Arso (Chester), Roia (New Haven), Shell & Bones (New Haven) and Strega (Branford).

The East Region (New London & Windham Counties) finalists are Cafémantic (Willimantic), David Burke Prime (Mashantucket), Oyster Club (Mystic) and RD86 (New London).

The West Region (Fairfield & Litchfield Counties) finalists are Jesup Hall (Westport), Taproot (Bethel), Tavern at Graybarns (Norwalk) and The Restaurant at Winvian Farm (Morris).

Log onto www.craziesawards.com today to submit your ballot from the list of nominees, purchase tickets or become a sponsor. For additional information, please contact us at info@ctrestaurant.org or by calling 860-278-8008.