One of the signature franchises at Condé Nast’s venerable foodie magazine Bon Appétit is the annual “Hot 10” list of the 10 best new restaurants in America. It’s an awards program that helps identify emerging culinary trends, drives tourism and transforms neighborhoods, and, most of all, makes its honorees industry stars overnight.
“It’s a distinction that changes the lives of restaurant owners,” as Gayle King of CBS News put it pre-pandemic—but in late 2021, with the COVID-19 pandemic dragging on and the restaurant industry continuing to struggle, BA’s team decided to totally rethink its honors program. “It didn’t seem right to have them compete against one another when they were all in dire straits,” Bon Appétit Editor-in-Chief Dawn Davis told Ad Age. (See our interview with Davis below.)
And so tonight in New York City, BA will celebrate its inaugural “Heads of the Table” honorees, recognizing “the trailblazing, community-building, future-building leaders changing the restaurant industry.” The event will be shared with the public live @bonappetitmag on Instagram (where BA has 4 million followers) via an Instagram Story takeover, with support from Monogram Luxury Appliances. Virtual cocktails start at 6 p.m. ET, followed by a dinner at 7.
Julie Burns, executive director, Monogram, said it was a no-brainer to come on board as the event’s presenting sponsor. “We are committed to supporting rising stars in both the culinary arts and design as a brand,” she told Ad Age, “and we’re delighted to help celebrate trailblazers who are changing the restaurant industry for good.” (As it happens, Monogram was already a sponsor of one of the “Heads of the Table” honorees: The LEE Initiative of Louisville, Kentucky. In the spring, Monogram provided LEE’s Women Culinary and Spirits Program mentees with tools, including appliances and media training.)
“Partnering with Monogram Luxury Appliances—which already plays an active role in uplifting the restaurant industry—to bring together these inspiring community leaders could truly not be more gratifying,” said Jennifer Mormile, chief business officer of the Lifestyle Division at Condé Nast.
Below, excerpts from Ad Age’s larger conversation with Bon Appétit Editor-in-Chief Dawn Davis about celebrating the “Heads of the Table” of an industry under siege.