The Connecticut Restaurant Association (CRA) announced today the award winners and nominees for the 2021 CRAzies Awards Gala presented by Sysco, LLC. Each year, the CRAzies recognizes the exceptional ability and talent of Connecticut’s restaurant community at this prestigious awards gala. Restaurant owners, operators, chefs, vendors and more will come together to celebrate the success of the industry at Foxwoods Resort Casino on Monday, December 6.
“We are extremely excited to celebrate our industry at the 2021 CRAzies, especially at a time when Connecticut’s local restaurants and caterers have been through so much, and worked so hard, over these past 19 months,” said Connecticut Restaurant Association Executive Director Scott Dolch. “Congratulations to our 2021 award winners and nominees, plus a special thank you to the efforts of the nominating panel who provided valuable insight throughout the selection process.”
The CRAzies selection process began earlier this week when a panel of more than 25 food writers, critics, bloggers, and social media influencers sat down to finalize the list of award winners and nominees. Restaurateur of the Year, CT Hospitality Hall of Fame, Vendor of the Year and Friend of the Industry nominees were brought to the CRA Board of Directors, where the overall winners were selected in each of these four categories.
In 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, People’s Choice, Regional Restaurants of the Year and Overall Restaurant of the Year. Winners will be selected from not only the public vote, but also from our nominating panel members.
The 2021 Restaurateur of the Year honoree is Bill Taibe of For The Food Restaurant Group, who owns and operates The Whelk (Westport), Don Memo (Westport), Kawa Ni (Westport) and The Norwalk Art Space Café (Norwalk).
The Connecticut Hospitality Hall of Fame inductees for 2021 will be Louis’ Lunch (New Haven) and Match Restaurant (Norwalk). The 2021 Vendors of the Year are ClarkHirth Associates, an accounting, tax and consulting services firm located in Farmington, and FordHarrison LLP, a Labor and Employment Law Firm that is based in Hartford. The 2021 Friend of the Industry Award will go to CT DECD Commissioner David Lehman for his dedication and leadership to our industry throughout the pandemic.
Highlighting our finalist categories, one of the most coveted awards is Chef of the Year. The five finalists for 2021 include Michone Danae Arringtonfrom The Art of Yum (Waterbury), Ashley Flagg from Millwright’s (Simsbury), Joel Gargano from Grano Arso (Chester), Emily Mingrone from Tavern on State (New Haven) and Manuel Romero from Olea (New Haven).
Our 2021 Pastry Chef/Baker of the Year finalists are Kristin Eddy from Millwright’s (Simsbury), Chan Graham from BouNom Bakery (Avon), David Vacca from Nana’s Bakery & Pizza (Mystic) and Rob VanKeuren from Flour Water Salt Bread (Darien).
The Bartender of the Year finalists are Ryan Andrade from The White Hart Inn (Salisbury), Jade Ayala from Oyster Club (Mystic), Juan Meyer from Rosina’s (Greenwich), Khalid Williams from Taprock (Unionville).
The Server of the Year finalists are Amanda Casey from Viron Rondo Osteria (Cheshire), Jason Gould from Fleming’s Steakhouse (West Hartford), Brendan Hayes from Roma Ristorante (Oakville) and Jess Saunders from Dockside Brewery (Milford).
The Caterer of the Year finalists are Delicacy Catering (West Hartford), Emily’s Catering (Bristol), Marcia Selden Catering & Events (Stamford) and The Mobile Pub (Watertown).
The Restaurant Newcomer award highlights the best new restaurants in Connecticut. The 2021 finalists are Camacho Garage (New Haven), The Charles (Wethersfield), Dockside Brewery (Milford), Don Memo (Westport) and Shipwright’s Daughter (Mystic).
A new category for 2021 is the People’s Choice Award, where the public selects their favorite dining establishment in Connecticut across any genre of food or style of dining. Finalists from this category are Red36 (Mystic), Taco Daddy (Stamford), The Place 2 Be (Hartford & West Hartford) and Twister Italian Café (Parkville Market, Hartford).
The final category is Restaurant of the Year, where the CRA recognizes four different regional winners, as well as an overall winner from the sixteen nominees.
Finalists from the North Region (Hartford & Tolland Counties) are Arugula (West Hartford), Millwright’s (Simsbury), Present Company (Simsbury) and Shu Restaurant (West Hartford).
The South Region (Middlesex & New Haven Counties) finalists are Le Petit Café (Branford), Shell & Bones (New Haven), Tavern on State (New Haven) and Viron Rondo Osteria (Cheshire).
The East Region (New London & Windham Counties) finalists are Oyster Club (Mystic), Stone Row Kitchen & Bar (Willimantic), TAO Asian Bistro & Lounge (Uncasville) and Tony D’s (New London).
The West Region (Fairfield & Litchfield Counties) finalists are @ The Corner (Litchfield), Community Table (New Preston), OKO (Westport) and Taproot (Bethel).