Dallas Tastemaker Awards 2021
Tastemaker Awards

Dallas culinary superstars and food fans toast the 2021 Tastemaker Awards

Dallas culinary superstars and food fans toast 2021 Tastemaker Awards

Marisol Leiva, Caroline Sheridan, Paulina Leiva
Marisol Leiva, Caroline Sheridan, Paulina Leiva  Photo by Ashley Gongora
Grace Kelly, Christian Kelly, Laura Russell
Grace Kelly, Christian Kelly, Laura Russell  Photo by Ashley Gongora
Dayne Weaver, Jon Bonnell
Dayne Weaver of Dayne's Craft Barbecue hugs Fort Worth Hero Award winner, chef Jon Bonnell. Photo by Ashley Gongora
CJ Starr
Emcee CJ Starr kept the crowd entertained during the awards ceremony. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Tastemaker Awards Dallas-Fort Worth, VIP room, Amber Bufkin, Melanie Zacek, Faith Heitz
Amber Bufkin, Melanie Zacek, Faith Heitz Photo by Ashley Gongora
Troy Gardner, TLC Vegan Kitchen, Best Ghost Kitchen
TLC Vegan Kitchen won Best Ghost Kitchen, accepted by Troy Gardner. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Meadors Ozarow, Empire Baking
Dallas Hero Award winner Meadors Ozarow of Empire Baking. Photo by Ashley Gongora
John Wiewel, Maegan Eason, Ryann Spradley
John Wiewel, Maegan Eason, and Ryann Spradley of Deep Ellum Brewing. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Liz Mitchell, Bartender of Year, Thunderbird Station
Liz Mitchell of Thunderbird Station accepts her award for Bartender of the Year. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Danae Gutierrez, Harvest Project Food Rescue
Danae Gutierrez of Harvest Project Food Rescue, the event's beneficiary. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Cheese trio, Omni Dallas
Omni Dallas' super Instagrammy cheese ball "towers." Photo by Ashley Gongora
Mendocino Farms Not so Fried Chicken sandwich
Mendocino Farms' “Not So Fried” chicken sandwiches were a hit. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Tastemakers Dallas-Fort Worth, cocktail
Signature cocktails featured Maestro Dobel Tequila and Stranahan's Single Malt Whiskey. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Deep Ellum Brewing beer garden
The Deep Ellum Brewing "beer garden" provided a nice place to spread out and enjoy a cold one. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Darren Chankhamany, Tina Le
Darren Chankhamany, Tina Le Photo by Ashley Gongora
Matt Balke, Tastemakers Dallas Chef of Year
Matt Balke, Dallas Chef of the Year (Encina). Photo by Ashley Gongora
Tara Hollis, Darlene Hollis
Tara Hollis, Darlene Hollis  Photo by Ashley Gongora
Claudia Randalls, Gustavo Guevara
Claudia Randalls, Gustavo Guevara  Photo by Ashley Gongora
Topo Chico
Topo Chico kept everyone hydrated. Photo by Ashley Gongora
Marisol Leiva, Caroline Sheridan, Paulina Leiva
Grace Kelly, Christian Kelly, Laura Russell
Dayne Weaver, Jon Bonnell
CJ Starr
Tastemaker Awards Dallas-Fort Worth, VIP room, Amber Bufkin, Melanie Zacek, Faith Heitz
Troy Gardner, TLC Vegan Kitchen, Best Ghost Kitchen
Meadors Ozarow, Empire Baking
John Wiewel, Maegan Eason, Ryann Spradley
Liz Mitchell, Bartender of Year, Thunderbird Station
Danae Gutierrez, Harvest Project Food Rescue
Cheese trio, Omni Dallas
Mendocino Farms Not so Fried Chicken sandwich
Tastemakers Dallas-Fort Worth, cocktail
Deep Ellum Brewing beer garden
Darren Chankhamany, Tina Le
Matt Balke, Tastemakers Dallas Chef of Year
Tara Hollis, Darlene Hollis
Claudia Randalls, Gustavo Guevara
Topo Chico

It was all the very best food and drink at the 2021 Dallas-Fort Worth Tastemaker Awards, CultureMap's celebration of the top restaurants, bars, and culinary masters, held at the Fashion Industry Gallery in downtown Dallas on August 19.

Dozens of bars and restaurants dished out spectacular tastes in a hedonistic feast. A portion of the proceeds benefited Harvest Project Food Rescue, which fights food insecurity in Dallas. The annual event, coming back from an all-virtual edition in 2020, proved to be the most delicious one yet.

Lines formed quickly for small plates and samples from some of Dallas-Fort Worth's most popular and influential eateries. Buzzy dishes included Mendocino Farms' “Not So Fried” chicken sandwiches; wagyu sliders from Jaxon Texas Kitchen & Beer Garden; slipper lobster "pancakes" from Saint Ann's; beef udon from Marugame Udon; pepper and garlic shrimp with peri peri chicken from Dahlia Bar & Bistro; and smoked pheasant and goat cheese grits from Backyard at Hotel Drover.

Those with a sweet tooth delighted in Bobbers Burgers' Dole Whip vegan soft-serve cups and dainty but delectable personal-sized Route 66 Pecan Pies from Haywire.

Chefs from Omni Dallas passed out the most Instagrammable plate of the night, with their colorful cheese ball "towers" — a dried date with blue cheese mousse, red grape with boursin and pistachio, and heirloom cherry tomato with herb goat cheese mousse — stacked high on a skewer for easy photo-snapping and snacking.

VIP ticket-holders could arrive early to valet park easily and mingle in a lounge just for them. Beer drinkers made themselves at home in the Beer Garden presented by Deep Ellum Brewing Company.

The main bar poured signature cocktails featuring the spirits of sponsors Maestro Dobel Tequila and Stranahan's Single Malt Whiskey. A fan favorite was the Summer Garden (created by last year's Bartender of the Year winner, Josh Hendrix), made with Boodles Rhubarb & Strawberry Gin, fresh watermelon and lime juices, and FeverTree Pink Grapefruit Soda. Guests paced themselves at the Topo Chico Hydration Station.

But this party wasn't just a feeding frenzy; we had some awards to present. Celebrity emcee, comedian CJ Starr, announced winners in 14 categories from restaurants and bars across Dallas-Fort Worth. They were selected by judges consisting of past winners, food and beverage industry experts, and CultureMap editors: Chas Martin, Toby Archibald, Gavin Secchi, Diana Zamora, Josh HendrixJacob Tindall, Lisa Stroup, Marc Ramirez, Kim Pham, Fabian Hernandez, Jamil BataVu Ly, Stephan Courseau, Janice Provost, Alex Gonzalez, Sarah HootonMarkus Kypreos, Mike Hoque, Malcolm Mayhew, Celestina Blok, Samantha Calimbahin, Eric Griffey, Connie Bally, Henry Abuto, Stephanie Merry, and Teresa Gubbins.

One of the biggest awards of the night was for Best New Restaurant, voted on by the CultureMap readers. The winners were Monarch in Dallas and La Onda in Fort Worth. They were greeted with some of the heartiest cheers of the evening.

Winners accepted gorgeous glass trophies onstage and posed for pictures; some groups even streamed the presentation live on social media for their fans to watch at home.

Two special awards were given to individuals who contributed greatly to the local dining scene during the pandemic; they went to chef Jon Bonnell (Waters, Bonnell's) in Fort Worth and bread queen Meadors Ozarow (Empire Baking) in Dallas.

Between feasting and celebrating, guests stopped to snap Insta-worthy photos at the photo booth and bought raffle tickets benefiting Harvest Project Food Rescue. A DJ kept the beats lively all night.

Spotted in the crowd, having great foodie fun, were Dallas dining VIPS, award winners and nominees, and guests Troy Gardner, Matt Balke, Liz Mitchell, Kim Finch, Dayne and Ashley Weaver, George Kaiho, Brooks Anderson, Jimmy Contreras, Claudia Randalls, Gustavo Guevara, Marisol Leiva, Caroline Sheridan, Paulina Leiva, Grace Kelly, Christian Kelly, Laura Russell, Tara Hollis, Darlene Hollis, Darren Chankhamany, Tina Le, Amber Bufkin, and Faith Heitz.

Hungry to be a part of it all next year? You can read about all the winners here, and we'll see you in 2022. Cheers!