Andrea Grimes, former City of Ater and current editor of Eater Dallas, announced Eater Dallas' Award winners yesterday, to the chagrin of many commenters on the site. A series of blog posts -- used to determined Dallas winners in categories including Restaurant of the Year, So Hot Right Now, Chef of the Year, Bartender of the Year, and Best Bathroom -- stated that Eater editors and readers alike will be voting and deciding on categories. A number of participants interpreted the contest as a straight popular vote.
Cane Rosso and the Grape dominated the polls for Restaurant of the Year, with Jay Jerrier's pizza restaurant squeaking out a narrow victory. That poll garnered over 1600 votes.
Best Bathroom was the most ignored category, with three nominees sharing just over 50 votes. Neighborhood Services Tavern only needed 23 votes to beat Tei-An Soba House.
But the Chef of the Year category drew the ire of readers, who felt duped when the popular vote was usurped by Eater's editorial intervention. Despite receiving the majority tally, Jonathon Erdeljac, the chef-owner at Jonathon's Oak Cliff, did not win. Instead, Brian Luscher of the Grape received Chef of the Year award, "based on his long-time dedication to culinary excellence, interest in trying new things, and interest in expanding his involvement in the larger food community," according to Eater.
Comments got heated as readers, who felt their votes had been ignored, fired back at Eater despite several mentions that the site maintained control over the final awards.
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As with every poll this week, we've put forth our nominees and asked Eater readers to narrow the field down to three, after which our editors will choose the winner from the finalists.
Whether or not you agree with the final results of Eater's contest, or any other online poll that determines the best of anything in a given market, it's easy to see a correlation between number of votes and the participants' social media savvy. Two of the most vote-getting restaurants also boast the most significant online presence on Twitter and Facebook. Unless some editorial control is exercised, the only best determined is Best In Social Media Marketing.
There is one award I'm certain of, and that's best comment in the Eater Dallas Awards thread, from runner up for Chef of the Year, Jonathon Erdeljac, who in a sea of anger and dick jokes said:
Brian Luscher was very deserving of his award, I was honored to be nominated along side him. I want to congratulate him again, and thank everyone who voted for me...