Updated 10 months ago
In 1967, Florida Trend started a tradition — the magazine named the top 12 restaurants in Florida, awarding them “Golden Spoon” plaques. The recognition has continued for 50 years.
This month, Florida Trend celebrates those 50 years with a Golden Spoon package starting here that lists the original 12 restaurants, four of which are still in business, an impressive record in the fast-changing food business.
But, of course, things have changed. In 1967 and for 15 years after, readers voted for their favorites. But that process was ripe for ballot stuffing. So we named Robert Tolf our restaurant editor and allowed him to make the selections. Robert was an educated, loquacious man who served in the military and then toured Europe for more than a dozen years in the foreign service. He had “counselors” in every corner of Florida who reported on restaurants he couldn’t check out personally.
After 34 years of writing books and penning restaurant reviews for Florida Trend, Robert turned over the Golden Spoons to Chris Sherman, another jovial guy who has done a wonderful job as restaurant editor for the past decade. He regularly consults with friends all over the state to find Florida’s best.
The steak-and-potato menus of 50 years ago have been largely replaced. Diving into Chris’ reviews today, you will find lots of specialties from Latin America, Asia and Europe, along with new variations of seafoods and “fusion” foods.
Chris notes many changes in the years he has been reviewing food. First, we’re eating out far more often. Second, there are now many more fine-dining options in each city than there used to be. And third, dining has become a much bigger part of our lives — a major social activity. Chris added that television has played a huge role in food coverage by celebrating, glamorizing, educating and informing the public about food, chefs and cooking. Television has accelerated the transmission of new food ideas; now Florida is barely behind the behemoths of New York or California.
I asked Chris what it takes to succeed in the volatile restaurant business. He notes that dining is just like any other business. “Anyone’s who’s good can do math.” Owners need to understand management, inventory control, training and so on, he says. Owners need to have passion, courage and vision. They need to put their personality into it.
And finally, Chris says, everyone involved needs to be dedicated to the mission. “It can’t be just you,” he says, “because you need a happy, hard-working kitchen, a strong front of the house and training, training, training.” These are wise words for any business venture.
Just like restaurants, the health care industry is composed of leaders with a mixture of great talent and great business acumen. You can’t have one without the other.
In this edition, Florida Trend peers at hospital leaders — the successful ones like Allen Weiss in Naples combine both medical and financial knowledge. He’s a champion of preventive medicine, which includes using financial incentives to encourage citizens to lead healthier lives.
As we see hospitals springing up all around Florida, we have to ask about the future of health care. Mike Schultz, head of Florida Hospitals along the west coast of the state, sees regional powerhouses on the horizon with consolidation already very evident. He also foresees more capitation — payment of a set amount per patient per year — as do many other hospital leaders.
— Andy Corty
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