Addison County restaurants win highest honors at tourism summit

STOWE — Two Addison County restaurants were given top honors at Vermont’s annual Tourism Summit, held last week in Stowe. Ian Huizenga of the Bar Antidote and Hired Hand Brewing Company in Vergennes was named Top Chef, and Middlebury’s Two Brothers Tavern was named 2017 Restaurateur of the Year.
“It’s … golly. It’s a huge honor,” said an almost-speechless Holmes Jacobs, co-owner of Two Brothers. “We’re deeply humbled. There are so many incredible restaurants and restaurateurs in Vermont, and we are incredibly flattered to be nominated and chosen for this honor.”
The awards are two of four given within the Vermont Chamber Hospitality Awards segment of the summit.
“These awards celebrate our hospitality and tourism industry’s vast contributions to the economy, and acknowledge these award winners as stand-out achievers within Vermont,” said Ronda Berns, vice president of Tourism for the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, who presented the awards with Joe Carton, chief operating officer at Westport Hospitality. “These are the individuals who exemplify the Vermont brand.”
The Chef of the Year award recognizes an individual with a proven history of supporting Vermont’s agricultural economy using local food and products. Huizenga was named top chef for his “locally-focused comfort foods” and his blending and pairing of flavors, seen in “his crafting of brews from local ingredients, pairing innovative pizzas, local cheese and featured beer cocktails, as well as combining his beers with local spirits and beer inspired desserts.”
Last fall Huizenga opened Hired Hand in the space above his Green Street Bar Antidote.   Ian Huizenga, shown last fall in one of his two Vergennes restaurants, Hired Hand Brewing Company, was named the Green Mountain State’s Top Chef  at Vermont’s annual Tourism Summit last week.
Independent file photo/Trent Campbell
At age 39, he already has 25 years of experience in the restaurant business, starting at Cubber’s in Bristol. He’s also cooked in kitchens at the Basin Harbor Club, Waybury Inn, Storm Café and in Florida, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
The Restaurateurs of the Year Award recognizes those who demonstrate excellence in operating and managing a restaurant in Vermont.
Two Brothers Tavern, which opened in Middlebury in 2002, is a family-run business known for its commitment to the community. Over the years, the restaurant has held philanthropic dining events and fundraisers to benefit local organizations, like Cocktails Curing Cancer, the annual Face Off Against Breast Cancer party, the Adam Myers Memorial Fundraiser, and Porter Hospital Auxiliary’s Beat Back the Blues, among others.
In 2015, Two Brothers won the Addison County Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award for its continued community support.
Two Brothers is currently wrapping up a renovation project, during which they’ve gutted and redesigned the restaurant’s main kitchen, serving a revised menu of Neapolitan pizza from a new kitchen in their downstairs lounge in the meantime. On April 21, it will celebrate the completion of the project with a grand re-opening party.
“We’re incredibly proud of what we do,” Jacobs said, “and we’re very proud of our staff. We really owe it all to them. We did not see this coming, and we’re very humbled.”   TWO BROTHERS TAVERN owner Holmes Jacobs stands with line cooks Ashley Lowell and Scott Burnham in the Middlebury restaurant’s new downstairs kitchen.
Independent file photo/Trent Campbell

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