The Nevada Restaurant Association presented the Culinary Excellence Awards at the Canyon Gate Country Club on October 6. The annual event honors the best and brightest in the industry, who were selected based on merit in such areas as reliability, teamwork, leadership, contributions of knowledge and time to the community and dedication to the restaurant industry. A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit the Association’s Education Foundation, which provides scholarships for high school students interested in starting a career in the restaurant and foodservice industry.

Candidates were nominated by a group of noted industry professionals in six award categories: Restaurant Neighbor of the Year, Bartender of the Year, Pastry Chef of the Year, Restaurant Allied of the Year, Culinarian of the Year and Restaurateur of the Year. The winners were voted on by the Association’s Board of Directors.

The following are a description of the awards, the list of nominees with the names of the winners bolded and the bio of each winner.

Restaurant Neighbor of the Year

This award recognizes outstanding community service in the industry. Carmine’s NYC Italian Restaurant

Carmine’s is a family style restaurant that offers exceptional value to its guests through their southern Italian cuisine. Carmine’s Las Vegas opened in 2013 being the largest restaurant of their locations to open.

Bartender of the Year

The Bartender of the Year Award recognizes an individual who consistently provides excellent personable, intuitive, and responsive guest service. The individual has developed and maintained a “cutting edge”/innovative attitude and passion for the craft of bartending and cocktail service through continued education and industry participation.

Anthony Partridge Rx Boiler Room, Carla Fuerst Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill and David English Other Mama

David is the lead mixologist at Other Mama. Honors include the “cocktail of the month” award from Desert Companion and The “best bartender award” from Eater Las Vegas. Most recently, David accepted a nightlife bartending job in 2014 with SBE group which brought him to Las Vegas. By a twist of fate he met Chef Dan Krohmer who was in the process of opening Other Mama and began to develop the restaurant’s cocktail program.

Pastry Chef of the Year

The Pastry Chef of the Year Award recognizes a pastry chef who has displayed a passion for the craft, has an accomplished reputation in the pastry field, demonstrates community involvement, and advances the hospitality industry as a whole by sharing skills and knowledge.

Brigette Contreras STK Las Vegas, Kamel Guechida Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Rebecca Bills Block 16 Hospitality

Brigette is the Pastry Chef of STK in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Prior to joining STK, she cooked and baked her way to excellence at some of the most prestigious venues in the U.S., from the James Beard House to the two-time Michelin Star restaurant Providence in Los Angeles.

Restaurant Allied of the Year

An “allied” is any industry or service related to our restaurant sector. The Restaurant Allied of the Year Award recognizes a superior allied vendor, supplier, or other company that goes above and beyond to provide exceptional services or products to support the restaurant industry and the community.

Audio Visual Advisors, The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional, Nevada Public Radio , Desert Companion

Nevada Public Radio NVPR was established in 1975 as an independent, not-for-profit, public benefit corporation. NVPR is the publisher of NVPR’s broadcast network includes two FM stations serving the Las Vegas metropolitan area - News 88.9 KNPR and Classical KCNV 89.7. NVPR is the publisher of the award-winning Desert Companion monthly magazine and the producer of KNPR’s State of Nevada.

Culinarian of the Year

The Culinarian of the Year Award recognizes a chef who leads an exceptional restaurant kitchen, is a role model, demonstrates community involvement, and advances the hospitality industry as a whole through his/her exemplary dedication and skill to the craft.

Eric Klein Spago Las Vegas, Khai Vu District One Kitchen & Bar, Paco Cortes El Dorado Cantina

Eric was the Executive Chef of Spago Las Vegas and recently moved on to head up the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group Catering in Los Angeles. Eric joined the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group soon after relocating to the United States in 1996. He spent seven years working alongside Wolfgang Puck at his California-based restaurants. Eric has received multiple accolades including being named one of the Top 10 Best Chefs in America by Food & Wine Magazine in 2004.

Restaurateur of the Year

The Restaurateur of the Year Award recognizes an individual who operates an outstanding restaurant business, is a role model, demonstrates community involvement, and advances the industry as a whole.

Charlie Abowd Café at Adele’s, Matt Dickerson Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, Sebastien Silvestri The Venetian , The Palazzo Resort Hotel

Sebastien Silvestri has had much managerial experience from managing restaurants in Bora Bora, London, Texas and California. He has a passion for food and beverage and it is embedded into his roots from learning from his uncle, who was a successful restaurateur in the French Riviera. Sebastien was awarded a Senatorial Recognition from Senator Dean Heller for his contribution to The Nevada Restaurant Association.

Editor’s note: The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional was honored to have been nominated for the Restaurant Allied of the Year award and is grateful to the industry noted professionals and the Nevada Restaurant Association for this consideration.