State group honors top restaurants

The Nevada Restaurant Association honored the best and the brightest in the culinary industry at its Culinary Excellence Awards on Oct. 15.

Gino Ferraro, owner of Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar, walked away with the title of Champion of the Year. Ferraro’s specializes in pasta made from scratch. Ferraro’s has won many awards, including Open Table’s “Diner’s Choice 2015,” and Wine Spectator’s “Award of Excellence.”

Candidates were chosen based on merit in such areas as reliability, teamwork, leadership, contributions of knowledge and time to the community, and dedication to the restaurant industry. They were nominated by a group of noted industry professionals in six award categories, and the winners were voted on by the association’s board of directors.

“The nominees and winners exemplify the Nevada Restaurant Association’s mission to promote, protect and educate our state’s growing restaurant industry,” Katherine Jacobi, association president and CEO, said in a statement.

Other honorees:

— Bartender of the Year: Ju Young Kang, lead mixologist for Delmonico’s. In addition to training bar staff, she is responsible for curating Delmonico’s renowned bar program with one of the largest whisky selections in the United States that includes more than 700 varieties from eight countries.

— Pastry Chef of the Year: Jin Caldwell, founder and owner of JinJu Chocolates, which serves as a wholesale business to Las Vegas hotels and resorts. Jin also has a boutique retail shop in the Container Park on Fremont Street. In addition to her career endeavors, she has also made television appearances on “Rachael Ray’s Tasty Travels” and “Sugar Rush” as a guest chef.

— Restaurant Allied of the Year: Michael Severino, general manager and event marketing coordinator for Southern Wine & Spirits. He has been a part of the inception of Maxim hotel and has worked with Caesar’s Tahoe, the Riviera Hotel and worked for over 10 years with Summa Corp.

— Culinarian of the Year: José Andrés, an internationally recognized culinary innovator, author, educator, television personality, humanitarian and chef and owner of ThinkFoodGroup. He was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. His 21 award-winning restaurants are located throughout the country, including in Washington, Miami and Los Angeles, as well as Las Vegas.

— Restaurateur of the Year: David Robins, managing partner, operations and corporate chef of the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group. He joined the company in 1992 to open Spago, and after a successful three years, Puck offered him a top-level partnership with the corporation that also expanded his role to include restaurant development and operations.

In addition, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation recognized Raja Majid of Origin India as Restaurant Neighbor of the Year. The Brown-Forman Retailer of the Year Award from the National American Beverages Licensees was presented to Roger Sachs of Steiner’s Pub.

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