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From the Editor: Thanks to All

Todd Walker of Fox 9 taped several segments at Handsome Hog to promote the Charlies. Included in the segments were, left to right, Pat Weber, who organizes the seamless afterparty, Blake Wangelin, me, Todd Walker and last year’s Outstanding Chef Justin Sutherland. 


I‘ve never believed in participation trophies. Not when my kids were in sports and it would have boosted their self-esteem (if not their ball handling skills) nor for competitions such as The Charlies. But I would be in favor of a three-way tie in all 12 categories. 

Before the band strikes the first note on stage at the Pantages Theater, we’ve had several months of getting to know our 36 finalists. We write profiles about them for the January issue, we email them several times and answer questions and clarify information. We offer them half-off tickets for their co-workers and families. We feature them in social media posts, and when possible, eat at their restaurants, buy their coffee and drink their beer or cocktails. If we were having a party or getting married, we’d find a way to have three big events so each catering finalist could cater one. We stop just short of chauffeuring their kids to school or picking up the dry cleaning, but I think you get the depth of our admiration. 

So on February 9, when the lights went down and the music heated up, I suddenly knew why my college boyfriend sneered at me when I said I didn’t want to marry him, but couldn’t we stay friends?

I also knew why the Beach Boys wished “they all could be California Girls.”

I really didn’t want just one person to take home the official Charlies plate. But I knew taking home a cup or a saucer wouldn’t be the same thing. 

But unlike Little League, the Charlies is the big leagues and the people involved in the food and beverage community are a community. The cheering for the winners wasn’t just by their workplace buddies, it was all of us cheering and whistling, 12 times, and then once again for the Lifetime Achievement recipients, Phil Roberts and Peter Mihajlov of Parasole.

I think the unabashed camaraderie  is because this is an industry where people move around a lot and so your current and former co-workers are from a number of different places, or maybe because these people have big hearts or maybe because the lobby bar was open before the show.

Thanks to Molly Steinke of NemerFieger, many of the finalists had a chance to be on local TV or radio shows talking both about the  upcoming Charlies and about their restaurants. So even if you don’t have a Charlies’ plate hanging on your wall—and I dearly hope the winners do display their plates with their other accolades, even if its their third-grade spelling bee participation trophy—being a finalist is prestigious. We currently don’t have any hard data on the ROI, but Open Table is one of the sponsors, and they know the value of getting restaurants names out in front of the public. 

We have a lot of coverage of the Charlies in this issue—13 pages— so please forgive me if I repeat myself a few times. If you were there, I hope it brings back fond memories, and if you weren’t able to attend or sponsor this year, I hope it convinces you to be a part of this great celebration next year for the hardest working people in our business. 

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