Scott Miller from Max's Oyster Bar in West Hartford is the Chef of the Year, and the trio of owners from Joey Garlic's in Farmington and Newington are the Restaurateurs of the Year. The honors were bestowed by the Connecticut Restaurant Association at an award event Nov. 9.
"I was completely shocked," Miller said. "I was just content being nominated … but it's nice to have people know who you are."
Miller was named the Chef of the Year from more than 100 nominations. The other finalists for Chef of the Year were James Martin from 85 Main in Putnam and Kevin Long from Shrine at Foxwoods Resort Casino. This marked the first time the association gave the award.
Miller considers his forte to be fresh and furious, meaning Max's brings in food daily for creative dishes. Miller's menu changes with the season and doesn't highlight one particular dish.
"I reinvent myself every season," Miller said. "What we try to do is serve the freshest, best food possible."
The owners of Joey's Restaurant Group beat out four other finalists in the Restaurateur of the Year award. Anthony Sullo, Gary Gello and Nick Romano run the two locations for Joey Garlic's.
The other finalists for Restaurateur of the Year were Steve Abrams from Max Downtown in Hartford; Sarah Maggi-Morin from Buffalo Wild Wings in Windsor; Linda Sample from A Thyme to Cook in Stonington; and Bill daSilva, Mark daSilva and Dave Rutigliano from SBC Restaurant Group, which operates locations in Southport, Stamford, Branford, Milford and Hamden.
The association's Salute of Excellence Awards also honored vendors and friends of the industry.
Stratford wine and liquor distributor Connecticut Distributors Inc. was named Vendor of the Year.
Friends of the Industry honors went to State Rep. Sean Williams, R-Watertown, and Bob McMakin, former chief executive officer for Sysco Food Services of Connecticut.
Inducted into the association's Hospitality Hall of Fame were J. Timothy's Taverne in Plainville and Apricots Restaurant and Pub in Farmington. The hall of fame honors Connecticut restaurants in business more than 20 years with a reputation of giving back to the community.