Quick Bite

The Eye-Opening Tastemaker Awards

Hanna and I had the pleasure of attending the 2018 CultureMap Awards here in Dallas last Thursday. It was a very fun night with delicious cocktails (most of which featured Woodford Reserve, the event sponsor) and an incredible variety of dishes from some of the best restaurants in the DFW metroplex. My hands were too full to take any notes of what I ate, but I fondly remember a sashimi dish from Uchi, a chilled soup from The French Room, and a decadent slider from Bob’s Steak and Chop House. I loved catching the occasional word with chefs and seeing my fellow Dallasites fill a large venue for the sake of celebrating chefs and restaurants. These results stood out to me:

  • Restaurant of the Year – Town Hearth (need to go)
  • Chef of the Year – Omar Flores, Whistle Briches (need to go)
  • Rising Star Chef – Anastacia Quinones, The Cedars Social (need to go)
  • Best New Restaurant – Ferris Wheelers (need to go)
  • Best Biscuits – Crossroads Diner (Hanna is the Biscuit Queen, MUST GO)
  • Bar of the Year – Parliament (very well deserved, one of our favorite spots)
  • You can see all of the winners in Texas here.


During the awards, I learned that I have a lot of work to do! After all, one of my favorite parts about Dallas is that I’ll never run out of great places to eat. I’m sure that all the awards were very well deserved, which brings me to the problem I had with the evening:

The large majority of attendees didn’t give a damn about the awards.

Emcee Jane McGarry seemed to share my disappointment. She tried throughout the ceremony to quiet the crowd so that they might listen and give these hardworking chefs, bartenders, restaurant owners, and staff members the attention they deserve. But Jane had no luck and had to speed through the nominees, hoping that maybe the crowd would take it down a few notches to hear the night’s award recipients. Honestly, it bummed me out.

I left that evening not knowing if the event itself wasn’t to be taken seriously, or if it was just that specific crowd. Since then, I’ve changed my viewpoint and this is where I’ve arrived: it’s not about the crowd, but the event certainly wasn’t taken seriously and it should have been. If you are going to buy a ticket to an event where they are recognizing industry professionals with awards, particularly the dedicated men and women that feed us delicious food night in and night out, then you should recognize that those awards might mean something to the people receiving them.

As a result of this event, I have a new goal. I want to put on an event that recognizes the area’s restaurants and the people that make them tick. But I’ll need readers like you to help me get to a point where people will care what I think! So, there’s that for you.

I don’t think food is something to get stiff and stern about. But I’ll also say this:

Chefs and restaurateurs are getting more serious about their work every day in this city. Maybe it’s time that the people enjoying their work do the same.

2 thoughts on “The Eye-Opening Tastemaker Awards”

  1. YES! Firstly, Hanna’s Grandma (GG) IS THE biscuit Queen. That Texas native can still make biscuits and gravy like none other! Hanna may be the biscuit princess….
    About the event you attended and your vision for the future, there’s a lot that organizers can do to set the tone for the evening; the set up and flow situation with either chairs and/or tall tables to stand by, having an emcee or “warm up” person who captures everyone’s attention and set the stage for the awards. The value is perceived even before the event begins by the quality of the voting process, invitations, marketing, etc. I suspect you would be amazing at it, Matt!

Leave a Reply