New Ripe Awards Rotten for Some Foodies
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.
Ripe Ripe's five winning chefs (left to right) are: Bernie Kantak, Charleen Badman, Silvana Salcido Esparza, Greg La Prad, and Joshua Hebert.
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.
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: