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West Hartford Restaurateur, Caterer Win Top Honors

Billy Grant (left) was honored as Chef of the Year at the CRA's Annual Awards Dinner. Photo: Twitter

West Hartford was well-represented at the Connecticut Restaurant Association’s Annual ‘Salute to Excellence’ Awards Dinner.

Billy Grant (left) was honored as Chef of the Year at the CRA's Annual Awards Dinner. Photo: Twitter

Billy Grant (left) was honored as Chef of the Year at the CRA’s Annual Awards Dinner. Photo: Twitter


The Connecticut Restaurant Association (CRA) held their annual Salute to Excellence Awards Dinner on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at the Mohegan Sun Ballroom. The event honors many of Connecticut’s restaurants, caterers, chefs, and mixologists. More than 400 people attended.

“It is great that we have the opportunity to bring restaurant leaders from across the state together to celebrate the talent of our local chefs and the achievements of our restaurants,” said CRA Board Chairman, Phil Barnett of the Hartford Restaurant Group.

This year’s Awards Dinner recognized Dish Restaurant Group as the 2015 Restaurateur of the Year. Dish Restaurant Group owns Dish Restaurant and Sorella in Hartford, and Dish ‘n Dat in Canton.

The CRA honored Ecolab as their Vendor of the Year, and State Representative David Rutigliano of Trumbull as their Friend of the Industry.

The CRA inducted two new members into the Connecticut Hospitality Hall of Fame. This year’s honorees are Flanders Fish Market & Restaurant of East Lyme and Marcia Selden Catering & Event Planning of Stamford.

A Lifetime Achievement Award was presented posthumously to Frederick A. DeLuca, the founder of Subway. Mr. DeLuca opened the first Subway restaurant in Bridgeport.

Awards were given out in the following categories: Casual Restaurant of the Year, Upscale Restaurant of the Year, Caterer of the Year, Mixologist of the Year, Chef of the Year, and Server of the Year. These awards were the results of open voting and the winners were announced at the dinner.

The following are the winners:

Chef of the Year: Billy Grant, Grant’s Restaurant, Bricco Restaurants

Caterer of the Year: Max Catering

Server of the Year: Kristy Mahler, Agave

Mixologist of the Year: Dimitrios Zahariadis, Highland Brass Company

Casual Restaurant of the Year: Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ

Upscale Restaurant of the Year: Fresh Salt at the Saybrook Point Inn

“I am thrilled to honor these superb restaurants, caterers, chefs, servers and mixologists who have demonstrated a passion for offering outstanding food and beverages,” said CRA Executive Director, Nicole Griffin.

The Connecticut Restaurant Association’s mission is to serve as the voice of Connecticut’s restaurants in advocacy, education and awareness. It is affiliated with the National Restaurant Association, and is Connecticut’s only not-for-profit representing the state’s restaurant industry.

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