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News | That One Time I Won Food Writer of the Year

Posted on: November 15th, 2017 by Taryn Jeffries No Comments

On Monday I attended the 2017 Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame Awards, which is basically the Arizona Food Oscars, and I walked away as Food Writer of the Year.

I’m heading into this article with some simultaneous humility and excitement, friends. I love what I do. I love it so much that I often find myself working 14 plus hour days. See, I have a full time day job that helps to pay the bills and allows me to go to different events and restaurants. When I come home, I help my little people with their homework and then hop on my laptop to work my way through 100’s of emails that come in throughout the day. Emails that have to do with different restaurant events, menu changes, invitations to dinners and questions about collaborations. I try to get through as many as I can because you deserve it. You deserve to know about all the great restaurants and events that are happening in town. The restaurants and chefs that dedicate everything that they have to their eateries deserve to have people walking through their doors and loving their food and then going and telling their friends. It’s not easy. I get tired and overwhelmed. My kids sometimes ask when I’m going to be done and my husband sometimes tells me that its time to call it a day. But, it brings me joy and in a world where great restaurants, really great restaurants, are statistically fighting every day to stay open its so important.

That one time I won food writer of the year (1)

Photo Credit | Christina Barrueta

It’s a rare occasion that I get paid to write an article, and most of the times that I do…that payment comes in the form of a free meal. It doesn’t matter though, because I love the people that I meet as a result of those dinners and I love the stories that the chefs share. So when I found out that I was nominated for the 2017 Food Writer of the Year award by the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame, you would have thought I won the lottery. The email that came with that notification would have been enough for me and I was absolutely delighted to have my name mentioned with people that I consider to be extremely talented individuals as well as friends.

I returned from a press trip to the World Food Championships in Orange Beach, Alabama around midnight on Sunday, headed to my day job on about four hours of sleep and then came home and got dolled up for the event. I was excited to see friends and share in the revelry and excitement at the Wrigley Mansion. I really didn’t think that I would hear my name. As my friend, and last years inductee, Christina Barrueta read off the description of the winner, I thought to myself that sounds so familiar and then I heard “her Four for the Weekend videos” I looked at my friend and squealed, “ I do that!” I was confused and elated all at the same time. It was overwhelming and to be honest, I haven’t stopped smiling since I first held that award in my hand.


Taryn Jeffries and Mike Baum

Photo Credit | Rodney Hartwig

That’s what recognition can do. I didn’t need it to continue doing the thing I love so much, but wow did it feel amazing. I can only imagine that its close, if not the same for the other winners of the evening.

It is with great joy, excitement and admiration that I present to you the 2017 Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame Awards Inductees.

2017 Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame Inductees

Food Truck of the Year | The Great Pho King Food Truck

Food Writer of the Year | Taryn Jeffries (that’s me, ya’ll!!)

Brewer of the Year | Derek “Doc” Osborne, Pedal Haus Brewery

Winemaker of the Year | Sam Pillsbury, Pillsbury Wine

Mixologist of the Year | Keifer Gilbert, Counter Intuitive and UnderTow

Restaurateur of the Year | S. Barrett Rinzler, Square One Concepts

Best Upcoming Chef | Rochelle Daniel, Fat Ox

Chef of the Year | Christopher Nicosia, Sassi

Lifetime Achievement | Chris Bianco, Pizzeria Bianco

Alex Simmons Lifetime Achievement | John Fontana, Arizona Arts Alliance

Jamie Cerreta was the perfect host for the event and the Wrigley Mansion the perfect backdrop. It was such a fun night, one that I likely won’t ever forget. I still can’t believe it even happened, but I have the beautiful award and all the photos to remind me!

My takeaway from the night and my win, if you have a dream or a passion, don’t get discouraged when things go sideways or when you get tired or see someone seemingly doing better than you. Build a community instead of looking at others as competition. There’s no one like you, so do you with confidence and charisma and a little bit of moxie and there’s nothing you can’t do or be!

Thanks for listening and for showing up to check out my reviews, recaps and event listings. You and the great chefs and restaurants in town are the reason I get so little sleep, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!


About the Author - Taryn Jeffries

Editor and Chief Eating Officer of PhoenixBites, 2017 Food Writer of the Year (Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame) Taryn grew up in a small town in Illinois with a doting Grandmother who taught her the way around a kitchen and that food is representative of love. Her current quest is to find the love in local dishes and the chefs behind them. In addition to running all things PhoenixBites, Taryn is also a freelance writer, sharing her insight on the best dishes and where to get them each and every month.

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