A Personal Note on the 2013 FNA Panel...

2013 list of restaurants that have captured our love and admiration
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Skillet Doux
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6 years ago

I imagine it might seem a little opaque, to see a list of nominations go in and a final list of Food Nerd Approved restaurants come out, with little explanation of how we got from Point A to Point B. So I wanted to give you a little bit of an idea.

In short: we analyze and argue and agonize.

We studied the posting record for three days, took a preliminary vote, researched for another day, met for three hours to debate and discuss in person, took two more days to consider what each other had said and review once more, and then finished with a final vote. But even at the very beginning, when we were just getting started with our preliminary ballot, ScottofStrand told me, ”casting my votes was definitely more difficult than I expected!” And it is. You think you’re going to take all of these restaurants and put them in a neat row and draw a line somewhere and that’s it. Easy. Done. Except it isn’t so easy, because you quickly realize you aren’t comparing apples and apples. You’re comparing apples and oranges and bananas and persimmons and rambutans.

Of course, there were those nominees that so embodied the first nine months of PHXfoodnerds that a quick 5-0 vote was all it took (and we discussed some of those anyway). But there were fewer of them than you might guess. Some fabulous restaurants didn’t make the final list simply because, for whatever reason, folks didn’t write very much about them. Some places made the list because even if there weren’t quite as many supporters, those supporters were so energetic and excited that it was hard not to get caught up in the enthusiasm. Some places are on the final list because even though they weren’t talked about much before the nomination, wow, the community has certainly come out in force to support them since. Some aren’t there because despite the impassioned pleas of a few folks, the rest of the crowd couldn’t help but disagree. And that variety of opinions and viewpoints wasn’t just evident on the board, but it was reflected in our discussions as well. Though all you see in the end is the final list, if you think some of the calls were wrong, there’s probably somebody on the panel who agrees with you.

The beauty of Food Nerd Approved, however, is that it’s intended to be dynamic, and that which inspired us to post and discuss this past year may not next year, and vice-versa. It’s intended to reflect us as much as the restaurant scene. And what gets me jazzed even more than this year’s list is the prospect of what next year’s list might look like – the new places we’ll discover, the favorites we’ll continue to discuss, and the old flames that might be rekindled. Food Nerd Approved isn’t an annual event. It’s a year long process. And I’m excited to be starting it again... today.

Thank you all so much for being a part of this.
Dominic Armato
Dining Critic
Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
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BarbaraToombs
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6 years ago

Well said, Dom, well said. Everyone on this forum should give themselves a pat on the back for being part of a growing community of "food enthusiasts"--and I hope everyone will be encouraged to get even more involved in the year ahead!!! :)
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golbsalt
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6 years ago

I'd like to take a moment to express my personal thanks, first to the board and food nerds community as a whole. You guys have become the heart and soul of a vibrant recommendation and review group that makes finding good and even great food in Phoenix soooo much easier!

But I also think it's appropriate to take a moment to thank the guy who started it all. Dom, if you had asked me 10 months ago on March 19, 2012 as we made the elevator ride back to the parking garage if your idea for a food nerd army would have produced such dynamic results, I would have shrugged my shoulders and probably mumbled something like, "I hope so, but I'm not sure it's for me."

And yet, that's the beauty of it all... it's for me and for you and for everyone else who has chosen to be a part of it. It's for the avid participants and the lurkers, it's for the true food nerd (yes, I can now embrace the designation :) ) and the average joe that just wants a great meal. it's for the hardcore business traveler and the Phoenix native that wants to support local and find a few more spots close to home.

Thank you Dom, for allowing, encouraging and even mildly cajoling (by your passionate example) our participation. I look forward to future opportunities to enjoy great food and culinary education with local owners and entrepreneurs who truly want to make the Phoenix food scene something different, something better. Those opportunities would not have happened without your vision and your passion!
blog.golbsalt.com - "happiness IS just a lick away!"
@_go_lb_salt_ or @fhmarket
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Skillet Doux
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6 years ago

Though my greatest hope for the board is that it gets to the point that it's so jam-packed with information and knowledge and infectious enthusiasm coming from every direction that my contributions barely register as more than any other poster, that means a lot to me and I really, really do appreciate it. Thank you.
Dominic Armato
Dining Critic
Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
JennyC
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Joined: 7 years ago

6 years ago

Thanks, Dom, for taking Phoenix seriously as a food destination. I'm happy to have a non-jerky place to come and access good information (and pictures) on restaurants and chefs and the community. Even more happy to have a few places on the 2013 FNA list that I haven't hit yet. :)
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Skillet Doux
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6 years ago

[To keep suggestions for changes/improvements to the FNAs together, the discussion of how best to present the nominees has been moved to the "Food Nerd Approved - Discussion" thread. -Mod]
Dominic Armato
Dining Critic
Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
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mjmartinez72
Posts: 45
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6 years ago

What an amazing list! I think it establishes a great foundation. Dom, you are doing important work here and have helped to facilitate connecting people and celebrating food. Can't wait until we begin the next round!
Michelle Martinez
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Gabriel_8
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Joined: 5 years ago

5 years ago

Thanks a ton for providing this information.
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