Rock City Eats Industry Awards: Honoring the Unsung Heroes of the Local Restaurant Scene

For the bulk of our history here at Rock City Eats we have stayed away from the annual reader’s choice awards that represent most other publication’s annual food coverage/sales period. So when we came out with awards I wanted it to be different, and meaningful.
Rock City Eats was started to tell the story of the food industry from the inside, not reflect on it from the outside. That is why our industry awards are significant. I’ve had countless owners, executive chefs, managers, and others over the years express how they want to see more of their staff recognized for their efforts. This is our way of doing things.
If you are outside of the industry, you may not recognize a lot of these names. That is ok, almost every nomination came from folks inside the food industry which is what I was hoping would happen. Even better in each category, the majority of the votes came from inside the industry as well. In fact, removing the known non-industry votes would not have changed the winner in a single category. Our industry awards are truly about food workers honoring their peers, and it is reflected here. Some names and restaurants they work at may surprise you (I know a few did for me), a lot of it reflects individuals in the industry that others respect.
Congrats to all the winners and runners up. You are highly appreciated by your peers, the restaurants you work in, and all of us at Rock City Eats.
Best Sous Chef Megan Kessler (Pizza D’s)
Runner Up: Alex Hawk (Cafe Bosa Nova), Third Cade Harguess (Chenal Country Club)
Best Pastry Chef Monica Chatterton (Flake Baby/Lost Forty Brewing)
Runner Up: Matcha Norwood (Cinnalightful/Cheesecake on Point), Third Bri Gibbons (Bone’s Chophouse)
Best Line Cook Matt Clark (Petit & Keet)
Runner Up: Jasmine Martinez (Bone’s Chophouse), Third James Kimball (Count Porkula), Fourth Sammy Cyz (Four Quarter)
Best Prep Bobby Loyd (Lost Forty Brewing)
Runner Up: Marcus Sabbs (Rebel Kettle), Third Richard Williams (Count Porkula)
Best Dishwasher: Tyrone Gimpne (Sauced)
Runner Up: Dwight Montgomery (Lost Forty Brewing), Third Bong Atienza (Lost Forty Brewing)
Best Hostess: Kay Langston (Big Orange)
Runner Up: Jessica Sawyer (Abbi’s Teas & Things), Third Helen Grace King (@ the Corner)
Best Server: Hope Findlay (Lost Forty Brewing)
Runner Up: Carla Wheeler (Petit & Keet), Third Audrey Gachignard (Rebel Kettle)
Best Busser: Eli Jennings (Heights Taco & Tamale Co)
Runner Up: Matthew Hannibal (Big Orange), Third Izabella Ellis (American Pie)
Best Bartender: Emily Brown (Heights Taco & Tamale Co)
Runner Up: Jimmy Tolan (Four Quarter), Third Sommer Throgmorton (Fassler Hall)
Best Barista: Jeremy Bragg (River City Coffee)
Runner Up: Micah Boswell (Nexus Coffee), Third Lore Dugger (Monticello Coffee Company)
Best Brewer: Theron Cash (Stone’s Throw Brewing)
Runner Up: Jerry Gorman (Lost Forty Brewing), Third Tim Berkley (Flyway), Fourth Josh Davis (Rebel Kettle)
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