Most Innovative Restaurateur
Hay Market‘s Joe Cirone, Willow Glen
This has been a good year for some of the valley’s top chefs. David Kinch reopened the celebrated Manresa after a kitchen fire closed the establishment for six months. Jeffrey Stout rebounded from his unceremonious booting from Alexander’s with a big hit at Orchard City Kitchen. And Jim Stump recovered from the closings of two established restaurants to expand his successful The Table and concept an upscale burger-and-dogs joint, Stumpy’s. While those three dominated the culinary news, Joe Cirone’s Haymarket quietly emerged as the new star of the local farm-to-table movement. Developing relationships with suppliers so close he is on a first name basis with the pigs he butchers, Cirone eschews chatty menus and high concept themery for flavors, ingredients and kitchen craft. He has built a solid following that has attracted notice from the culinary cognoscenti. This year’s restaurateur to watch, we expect to see his team soon on the food shows, and the Hay Market or its spinoff in a bigger, high profile venue in the near future.
Best Proof Silicon Valley is Changing the World
The Tech Awards, The Tech Museum of Innovation, San Jose
Sure, the technology community gave us personal computers and search engines, and now smart watches and electric sports cars. Those are all nice things to have. But how about toilets and stoves? For the 2.6 billion people people who have no access to modern sanitation—1.7 million of whom die every year from disease and pollution—that’s a pretty big deal. The Tech Awards 2014 recognized an initiative to get toilets out to places that don’t have them, a project to convert organic waste to biogas for cooking and heating, a way to deliver anesthesia to off-the-grid hospitals and a system to deliver antibiotics to tuberculosis patients in rural India. These transformative efforts remind us of a higher purpose that can be achieved through applied science and that saving human lives may be more worthwhile than inventing the next social chat app.
Best Luxury Shopping
Luxury Collection at Westfield Valley Fair shopping center
Has anyone noticed that Valley Fair has slid ahead of Stanford and Santana Row for luxury brands? First Cartier left Stanford Shopping Center and opened one of only five West Coast stores. Ferragamo moved across the street from Santana Row. Then Armani and Prada joined Tiffany and Louis Vuitton. And Balenciaga? The brand has only six other US locations. So if you have too much money, or just want to look like you do, now you know where to go.
Best Billion Dollars Spent
Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara
The Gates Foundation has spent billions to eradicate disease, and Mark Zuckerberg spent $19 billion on WhatApp, a company no one over 17 had ever heard of until it was purchased. Still a billion dollars doesn’t go as far as it used to. Back in the old days, you could buy Instagram, Tumblr or Waze, the Israeli mapping company, for around the billion mark. But now even a thermostat maker like Nest flips for triple that. Still, the best billion spent recently would have to be on the 49ers stadium in Santa Clara. The gorgeous white structure with high-tech bells and whistles has definitely elevated the region’s profile. We’ll host the Super Bowl next year, and with a little luck, the Grateful Dead will play one of their final concerts at Levi’s. And even those who can’t afford a seat license can still visit the new 20,000-square-foot 49ers Museum or enjoy a beer at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak & Pub and watch a youth soccer game across the street.
Best Park That Excludes
Rotary Playgarden, Coleman Avenue at Highway 87
One of the best affirmations of the power of people working together for the community good was the completion of the Rotary Playgarden. The new $6 million park, which allows kids with physical disabilities to play alongside able-bodied peers, opens this spring. $2 million came from members of the 100-year-old San Jose Rotary Club, who conceived of and spearheaded the project. Additional funding came from foundations, the City of San Jose, the County of Santa Clara and the county board of education. Sure, it helped that it was a mayoral election year, but this is not the time for cynicism. The fundraising blitz and equally speedy construction was an amazing feat, and Metro was proud to support this project.
Best Upcycling Support Team
Eleven months ago, when Metro relocated into a rehabilitated building in the SoFA District, we sought to reuse and upcycle spent objects. We built partitions out of old computers and newsracks, desks out of slabs of discarded steel from Sims Metals and tables out of reclaimed wood from Jim Salata’s Buccaneer Demolition warehouse. We lit them with LED lighting from Tal Mashhadian’s Lite Line Illuminations in Los Gatos. The locally-produced glass tiles in the bathrooms were fired from melted CRT monitor glass at Fireclay Tile on Julian Street. We fabricated coffee tables at TechShop, and Yes Welding crafted an amazing desktop. All of them will be getting BOSV certificates because we’re sure that each of them is the best at what they do.