Blog PostGolden Fork Awards

The 2024 GOLDEN FORK Awards

I can’t believe another year is in the books and it’s time to select the best of what I tasted over the past year.  The end of 2023 also marks my 9th Anniversary since I began this journey to find the best dishes that Vero Beach and the Treasure Coast have to offer.

Last year was a busy one for us here at The Treasure Coast Foodie! We hosted over 25 foodie dining experiences, ranging from cooking classes, food-eating challenges, wine classes, and a few exclusive chef’s tables. The highlight of the year was The Treasure Coast MasterChef competition, held at the Indian River State College campus right here in Vero Beach! Eight chefs from all over the Treasure Coast went head to head in a preliminary competition, and the Top 4 went on to compete in the finale two weeks later. Be sure to check out the follow-up article by Clicking Here!

In April, filming for Season 3 of Holy Grail Eats took place, highlighting 6 more of the best local restaurants. If you missed seasons 1, 2, and 3, CLICK HERE to catch up before season 4, set to release in the summer of 2024!

Now on to the awards!  Let’s jump right in and see who this year’s winners are and see what I had to eat from the past year! Listed below are my Top 10 Best Dishes (in no particular order), Chef of the Year, and Restaurant of the Year winners.  The winning dishes were selected from reviews or dining experiences we’ve had in 2023.

Top 10 Best Dishes

American Icon Brewery – Vero Beach, FL – Hawaiian Poke Bowl

CW Willis Family FarmsVero Beach, FL – ULTIMATE Classic Cheese Burger

Dixie Dream Donuts – Fort Pierce, FL – Glazed Donut

Chicken and Waffles by KinfolkFort Pierce FL – Peach Cobbler Waffle

Maison Martinique – Vero Beach, FL – Banana Fosters Crepe

Riverwalk Cafe & Oyster BarStuart, FL – Coconut Crusted Fresh Catch

Sacred Grounds Corner Cafe – Fort Pierce, FL – Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

That Crepe Place – Port St Lucie, FL – Blueberry Bliss Crepe

The Italian Cousin – Sebastian, FL – Chicken Francese

Dagwoods – Vero Beach, FL – The “Dagwood” Sandwich

and The Chefs of the Year award goes to. . .

Chefs Lisa and Anthony Damiano – Counter Culture – Vero Beach, FL

We celebrate the journey of two exceptional chefs with over 30 years of culinary expertise. They’ve worked at many prestigious places such as Mar A Lago as the Executive Chef for Donald Trump, The Russian Tea Room where they worked alongside Jacques Pepin, has served as presenting chef at the James Beard House in New York on three separate occasions, and as a pastry chef at the world-renowned Breakers Resort in Palm Beach.


Throughout their careers they have opened over 16 different restaurants and have received numerous awards and national press coverage including Bon Appetite Magazine, Gourmet Magazine, Best New Restaurant in America, and have appeared on Food Network shows including Ready Set Cook.

Beyond their amazing careers, their commitment to our community is what truly sets them apart. Those efforts include teaching cooking classes, nurturing up-and-coming chefs in the restaurant’s kitchen, supporting local farmers, who supply the bulk of their restaurant’s produce, and sponsoring local nonprofit organizations.

I have the immense pleasure of announcing our well-deserved Chef(s) of the Year – Chef Lisa and Chef Anthony Damiano.


and the Restaurant of the Year award goes to. . .

Pepper & Salt BBQ – Vero Beach, FL

When they first opened their doors in April 2022, they caused quite a stir in the local restaurant scene. My first visit during their soft opening exceeded my expectations, with big, bold flavors and tender meats. While they are best known for their smoked beef brisket, they decided to take things up a notch and make house-cured pastrami, and they nailed it! I’ve been quoted saying that it’s as good, if not better than Katz’s Deli in NYC, and much closer to home too!

But what truly sets them apart is their commitment to the Vero Beach community. They support local businesses, collaborate with other restaurants, and lend a helping hand to others when needed. They have planted strong roots here in our community and we are happy to have them here.


Tonight is a rare occasion as we’ve only given our Restaurant of the Year Award in back-to-back years once before. So, it’s with great honor that I award Pepper & Salt BBQ as our Restaurant of the Year once again! Their exceptional BBQ and unwavering commitment to our community make them truly deserving of this recognition.

and the People’s Choice award goes to. . .

Chef Damon Steffens from Riverwalk Cafe & Oyster Bar!


What do we have planned for the rest of 2024? You’ll just have to stick around and keep following us to find out!

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Thomas Miller

My name is Thomas Miller, aka “The Treasure Coast Foodie” and “The Foodie Guy” and now the host and producer of the brand new show called Holy Grail Eats! I’ve been a professional food blogger for the past 9 years and I’m very passionate about finding “Holy Grail” dishes and supporting local mom-and-pop and one of a kind restaurants! I’ve reviewed over 300 local restaurants in the last 9 years and my food photos are devoured by 10’s of thousands each month on my website treasurecoastfoodie.com. As a Google Maps Level 8 Local Guide, I have submitted over 4,000 photos that have been viewed over 90 million times. My foodie following is over 125,000 strong on the Treasure Coast and my Foodie dining experience events are some of the Top Culinary experiences on the Treasure Coast!

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