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Editor's Note: This story is unlocked for everyone to read courtesy of the CRVA, our partner in nourishing culinary exploration for residents and visitors of the Queen City.

November 15, 2022

Unpretentious Palate’s People of the Year 2022

Congratulations to our winners and finalists


by UP Staff

The 2022 winners of Unpretentious Palate’s People of the Year Award. Daniel Coston/UP.

On Monday, Nov. 14, Charlotte’s hospitality industry and the city’s most dedicated diners gathered to honor Unpretentious Palate‘s 2022 People of the Year. In what was a show of support and celebration, winners were announced live at the event and shared a few words of acceptance. Thank you to everyone who joined us! If you’d like to support UP and our mission to highlight the city’s culinary professionals, consider becoming a member today.

Congratulations to all of our winners and finalists!


Katsu Kart’s Perry Saito. Daniel Coston/UP

FOOD TRUCK OF THE YEAR
Katsu Kart Sando Shop

For bringing a fresh style of cuisine to the often predictable food truck scene to delicious results, this year’s Food Truck of the Year is Katsu Kart Sando Shop

See Chef Perry Saito’s acceptance speech.

Finalists:
Another?! Food Truck

Jimmy Pearls


Leland Brown and Sam Diminich of Your Farms Your Table. Daniel Coston/UP

GHOST KITCHEN OF THE YEAR
Your Farms Your Table

With such a dedication to both local farmers and the local community, for the second year in a row, our winner is Your Farms Your Table

See Chef Sam Diminich’s acceptance speech.

Finalists:
Bagelgram NC

Crav’n Caribbean


Shai Fargian of Yafo Kitchen. Daniel Coston/UP

FAST CASUAL CHEF OF THE YEAR
Shai Fargian, Yafo Kitchen

Thanks to his ability to bring authenticity and consistency to a cuisine unfamiliar yet quickly becoming beloved to Charlotteans, our Fast Casual Chef of the Year is Shai Fargian of Yafo Kitchen.

See Chef Shai’s acceptance video.

Finalists:
Jamie Barnes, What The Fries
Garren Kirkman, Jon G’s Barbecue


FARMER OF THE YEAR
Brent Barbee, Barbee Farms

For making local food accessible to large restaurant operations and shoppers at grocery stores as well as restaurants, our winner is Brent Barbee of Barbee Farms.

See Brent’s acceptance speech.

Finalists: 
Joe & Amy Rohrer, Boy & Girl Farm
Jamie Swofford, Old North Farm


Samantha DeRosa of Farmers Market Management Services. Daniel Coston/UP

LOCAL FOOD ADVOCATE OF THE YEAR
Samantha DeRosa, Farmers Market Management Services

For her endless efforts in uniting Charlotte and Carolinas farmers, this year’s winner is Samantha DeRosa of Farmers Market Management Services.

See Sam’s acceptance speech.

Finalists:
Jason Alexander, Free Range Brewing

Allie Papajohn, EatDrink CLT


Courtney Evans and Ken Smith of Leah & Louise accept on behalf of Greg and Subrina Collier. Daniel Coston/UP

MOST IMPACTFUL INDUSTRY MEMBER
Greg & Subrina Collier, Leah & Louise

They not only lead a food festival highlighting talented Black chefs last month, but earlier this year, they achieved a feat no Charlottean has done yet: brought home a James Beard Award finalist nomination, something that elevates Charlotte in the national conversation. This year’s winners are Greg and Subrina Collier of Leah & Louise

See Leah & Louise’s Ken Smith and Courtney Evans accept on behalf of Greg and Subrina.

Finalists:
Jamie Brown & Jeff Tonidandel, Tonidandel Brown Restaurant Group
Sam Diminich, Your Farms Your Table


Colleen Hughes of Supperland. Daniel Coston/UP

MIXOLOGIST OF THE YEAR
Colleen Hughes, Supperland

For a talent matched by her dedication to sustainability and tireless work in bringing awareness to Charlotte through her work with the U.S. Bartenders Guild, the winner is Colleen Hughes of Supperland.

See Colleen’s acceptance speech.

Finalists:
Vincent Chirico, Idlewild and Fairweather
Brittany Kellum, Fin & Fino

 


Bill Cox of Counter-. Daniel Coston/UP

SOMMELIER OF THE YEAR
Bill Cox, Counter-

Thanks to his ability to further elevate an already standout dining experience by providing delicate pairings with complex dishes, the winner is Bill Cox of Counter-

See Bill’s acceptance speech.

Finalists:
Sam Bilski, Bond Street Wines
Michael Klinger, Supperland


Samantha Allen of Wentworth & Fenn. Daniel Coston/UP

PASTRY CHEF OF THE YEAR
Samantha Allen, Wentworth & Fenn

For continuing to evolve her craft while adapting her business in a year of changes, our winner is Samantha Allen, Wentworth & Fenn

See Samantha’s acceptance speech.

Finalists:
Hannah Neville, Honeybear Bake Shop

Cristina Rojas Agurcia, The Batch House

 


Tim Buchanan of Fin & Fino. Daniel Coston/UP

GENERAL MANAGER OF THE YEAR
Tim Buchanan, Fin & Fino

For mentoring some of the city’s top front-of-house staff and maintaining excellence even while leading the opening of a new restaurant, this year’s winner is Tim Buchanan of Fin & Fino

See Tim’s acceptance speech.

Finalists:
Lee Ann Dolcetto, Stagioni
Dan Nguyen, Lang Van


Alex Verica of PARA. Daniel Coston/UP

CHEF TO WATCH
Alex Verica, PARA

For his brilliant creations on a menu that’s both playful and elegant, our Chef to Watch is Alex Verica of PARA

See Alex’s acceptance speech.

Finalists:
Yongwon Hwang, Counter
Corey Jones, Mad Dash Kitchen


Manolo Betancur of Manolo’s Bakery. Daniel Coston/UP

UPSTANDING PERSON OF THE YEAR
Manolo Betancur, Manolo’s Bakery

Sometimes, there are people whose dedication and efforts to support their community are so incredible and admirable, they are worthy of recognition of their own. This year, we added the UPStanding Person of the Year category to honor Manolo Betancur of Manolo’s Bakery

Manolo just recently returned from Ukraine, where he traveled to bring funds to a fellow bakery owner who saw his business destroyed during the recent Russian occupation. Manolo heard the story of a baker, just like him, across the world — but this baker had his shop ransacked and equipment stolen and sold. As he always does when he hears of a community in need, Manolo stepped in, fundraising here in Charlotte and getting the baker money to buy a new oven — and feed his community once again.

“Bread is easy to make, and bread feeds,” Manolo recently told UP writer Allison Braden. “If your stomach is not empty, your spirit is alive.”

We could all use a bit of Manolo’s spirit. Congratulations to him, our first UPStanding Person of the Year.

See Manolo’s acceptance speech.


Michael Noll of Bardo Restaurant and VANA. Daniel Coston/UP

CHEF OF THE YEAR
Michael Noll, Bardo Restaurant

Our Chef of the Year is quietly creating some of the city’s most intricate dishes, ones that showcase not only creativity but a mastery of the craft of cooking. Congratulations to chef Michael Noll of Bardo Restaurant

See Mike’s acceptance speech.

Finalists:
Greg Collier, Leah & Louise
Chris Rogienski, Supperland


 

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