New Ripe Awards Rotten for Some Foodies

Categories: Restaurant News

Ripe's five winning chefs (left to right) are: Bernie Kantak, Charleen Badman, Silvana Salcido Esparza, Greg La Prad, and Joshua Hebert.
For most folks, the 2013 Ripe Awards, "a selection of five of the Valley's edgiest chefs," probably garnered as much attention as the also-rans at this year's Golden Globes. After all, a new culinary award program takes time to develop, even when, as in the case of Ripe, it's likened to "a James Beard award, but way more hip and uniquely [Phoenix]" by its public relations firm.

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But last week, upon hearing the announcement of Ripe's five chef-winners, the snooze turned into sneers from Valley foodies. Many are crying foul at some of the selections and claim the new culinary awards show is nothing more than a marketing vehicle for a local public relations firm.

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Selected by the Phoenix Art Museum's Men's Arts Council, Ripe's "edgiest" chefs for its inaugural year are Bernie Kantak (Citizen Public House); Josh Hebert (Posh); Charleen Badman (FnB); Greg LaPrad (Quiessence and Morning Glory Cafe); and Silvana Salcido Esparza (Barrio Cafe and Barrio Queen).

No big surprises there -- selected for their expertise and passion, all five already are award-winning chefs and no strangers to local and national media attention.

But some in the food world see a different scenario. Many are saying that, given Ripe's public relations agency, Salt, whose clients include (or have included) three of the winning chefs' restaurants, the awards show is a conflict of interest. And, since the agency did not disclose its relationships with Citizen Public House, FnB, and Quiessence beforehand, the event could be seen as tainted and nothing more than yet another marketing ploy.

A statement from Ty Largo, principal/creative director at Salt, had this to say:

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Why can't people celebrate that awards, events and festivals all help to put Phoenix on the "culinary map"?  Crying "foul" doesn't add anything but drama. Do something about it instead.

PegnBob Briggs
PegnBob Briggs

We're sorry this is even an issue (or is it just a slow foodie news day) Can anyone even remotely debate whether any of these people are NOT deserving of just about any accolade thrown their way???? COME ON...let's just celebrate excellence.


I want to know who these "many are crying foul" are?  You mean the PR company selected us???  I thought it was the Men's Art Council who made the selection of chefs.  I'm confused!!!  I really thought it was because I am a bad ass and a great chef.  I thought it was because I give my time and efforts (and money) to good causes and I promote Mexican cuisine and culture.  I thought I was selected because I have dedicated the last 10 years of my life to better serve Phoenix. 


Yet you give the PR firm in question a platform to pitch their services and pat themselves on the back.

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