Gold Medallion Awards presented to top San Diego restaurants

The California Restaurant Association (CRA) San Diego County chapter hosted its 28th annual Gold Medallion Awards banquet, San Diego’s most prestigious restaurant honors, May 29, 2012 at the San Diego Convention Center. This industry awards gala is a highly celebrated peer-to-peer awards dinner in San Diego recognizing worthy and exceptional restaurants and industry partners in the region. It is an opportunity for members to acknowledge their fellow restaurateurs for their business practices, concepts, and achievements in more than 40 award categories.

“The Gold Medallion Awards are an opportunity for the industry to come together, share our successes, recognize excellence amongst our peers and raise funds vital to the future success of our industry,” said Mike Morton Jr., president of the CRA San Diego County chapter. “This event is a chance to recognize local restaurateurs, purveyors and vendors who have distinguished themselves through superior business practices, demonstrated leadership and dedication to the restaurant community and hospitality industry as a whole.”

Ken Irvine, owner of Bleu Boheme, was honored as Restaurateur of the Year for his skills as a restaurateur and his dedication to the chapter. Jeff Jackson, executive chef at the Lodge at Torrey Pines and Joe Magnanelli, executive chef for the Urban Kitchen Group shared the title of Chef of the Year. Also honored were San Diego Gas & Electric as the Large Service Provider of the Year and Specialty Produce as the Small Service Provider of the Year. They were honored for their excellence in their profession, contributions to the hospitality industry, the chapter and the community.

The President’s Award, presented only five times in the past 20 years, went to Robin Davis in recognition and thanks for her unending commitment to our industry, the San Diego community and the chapter.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders was honored for his continuous support of our industry while serving as an exceptional leader of the city for the past seven years.

The public also has the opportunity to vote for one award category, the Union Tribune People’s Choice Award, which went to Cucina Urbana. Votes were cast at, the new chapter website, for the favorite San Diego County restaurant.

Kevin Sosebee of Cucina Urbana was honored as the outstanding front of the house employee and Juan Rodriguez of the Fish Market was named the exceptional heart of the house employee.

Luis Bastidas of Garfield High School was the proud recipient of our Student of the Year award presented to a student showing leadership, exemplary citizenship, how they excel in their class and their desire to work in the hospitality industry.

More than 1,200 people attended the gala and auction, raising more than $160,000, which the chapter proudly contributes to the following causes:

  • foodservice equipment, supplies and mentoring for culinary arts programs at Morse, San Diego, Mira Mesa, Scripps, Madison and Garfield high schools
  • donations to the San Diego State University Hospitality and Tourism Management program
  • educational seminars and classes for the local industry
  • advocacy to protect and promote the restaurant industry through local legislation and cooperation with other local organizations.

Here are all of the winners from the event:

President’s Award: Robin Davis

Chef of the Year: Jeff Jackson, The Lodge at Torrey Pines; Joe Magnanelli, Urban Kitchen Group

Restaurateur of the Year: Ken Irvine, Bleu Boheme

Large Associate Member of the Year: San Diego Gas and Electric

Small Associate Member of the Year: Specialty Produce

Union Tribune People’s Choice Award: Cucina Urbana

Best American: George’s Ocean Terrace


Best Modern American Fine Dining:

Bertrand at Mr A’s

George’s California Modern

Best Asian: Del Mar Rendezvous

Best Breakfast or Brunch: Richard Walker’s Pancake House

Best Mexican Dinner House:

Café Coyote

Miguel’s Cocina

Best Sports Restaurant: Seau’s the Restaurant

Best Neighborhood:

Kensington Grill


Best New Restaurant:


Carnitas Snack Shack

Best Pacific Rim: Bali Hai

Best Pizza: Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza

Best Quickservice Chain:

In-N-Out Burger


Best Seafood Casual:

The Brigantine

The Fish Market

Best Family Casual Chain:

California Pizza Kitchen


Best Brewery: Stone Brewery World Bistro & Gardens

Best Hotel Restaurant Fine Dining:

Addison at The Grand Del Mar

Nine Ten at The Grand Colonial Hotel

Best Casual Italian: The Venetian

Best Italian Fine Dining:


Cucina Urbana

Best Hotel Restaurant Casual:

Sheerwater at the Hotel Del Coronado

The Grill at the Lodge at Torrey Pines

Best BBQ: Phil’s BBQ

Best Burger: Burger Lounge

Best Casino Restaurant: Barona Resort & Casino

Best Caterer: Urban Kitchen Catering

Best Continental or French: Marine Room

Best Ethnic: Indigo Grill

Best Seafood Fine Dining: The Oceanaire Seafood Room

Best Steakhouse Casual: Gaslamp, La Jolla Strip Club

Best Bakery Cafe:Bread & Cie Bakery Cafe

Best Steakhouse Fine Dining:

Cowboy Star Restaurant & Butcher Shop

Donovan’s Steak & Chop House

Best Sushi: Nobu

Best Live Music Venue: Anthology

Best Pub: The Waterfront Bar & Grill

Best Night Club Restaurant & Lounge: Altitude Sky Bar at the Marriott Gaslamp

Gold Medallion Venue Partner 2012:

San Diego Convention Center

Gold Medallion Title Sponsor 2012:

Sysco | US Foods

For more information, please visit the California Restaurant Association website at