Best Local TV Personality: Kimberly Hunt
The Emmy-winning 10News anchor doesn’t just host the nightly news and report live from government galas and the Academy Awards, she’s also committed to many local charities such as the San Diego Rescue Mission, United Cerebral Palsy, and Mama’s Kitchen, to name a few. By and large a San Diego institution in her own right, Hunt’s professionalism and dedication to San Diego have made her a fan favorite time and time again. (www.10news.com)
Best Local Radio Personality: Jeff & Jer
Though they’ve bumped around numerous stations in their time in San Diego, Jeff and Jer’s fanbase remains as loyal as ever. Whether they’re cracking wise or — well, let’s face it: cracking wise — listeners have tuned into them, now on 96.5 KyXy, morning after morning since they hit the air in 1988. Still witty as ever. (www.kyxy.cbslocal.com)
Best Local Athlete: Philip Rivers
River throws deep, he throws short, he runs it in when he has to. He’s won more regular season games sans Super Bowl than any other quarterback in the NFL (70 games total) and has thrown nearly 28,000 yards in his career so far. Easily one of the best quarterbacks in terms of passing, Rivers is the QB hero we want on the field right now, and even though times have been rough in the playoffs as some of his best receivers have moved on, Rivers continues to impress. (www.chargers.com)
Best Local Business Leader & Best Philanthropist/Volunteer: Irwin Jacobs
A leader in two categories this year, Qualcomm mogul Irwin Jacobs has brought international acclaim to San Diego with his numerous accolades and Fortune 500 companies. A former MIT professor, honorary doctor, author, and winner of the National Medal of Technology Award, Jacobs continues to give back to the community as one of Business Week’s Top 50 Philanthropists in the country. He has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to San Diego’s schools, art organizations, and businesses. The San Diego Union-Tribune in 2011 dubbed him the “Philanthropist in Chief.” His donations include $110 million to UCSD, $20 million to replace the downtown library, $120 million to the San Diego Symphony, and a yearly $1 million to KPBS, to name a few.
Best Local Weatherperson: Aloha Taylor
Meteorologist Aloha Taylor has been entertaining and informing San Diegans for over a decade. Don’t let the fact she was Miss Hawaii fool you, Taylor’s reports come from her own assessment of the daily weather charts, as she is affiliated with the National Weather Association, was awarded the American Meteorological Seal of Approval, and graduated from her bachelor’s program with a 4.0. Having a soft spot for ABBA doesn’t hurt, either. (www.fox5sandiego.com)
Best Executive Chef: Deborah Scott
If you could count successful restaurants as a gauge for a top chef, you’d be counting Scott’s on multiple hands. From Mediterraneo in Alpine to Indigo Grill in Little Italy, Kemo Sabe in Hillcrest to Reuben’s Steakhouse on Harbor Island, and the newer Vintana in Escondido, Scott’s menus have won numerous awards and served up mouth-watering fare for foodies all over the county. She even has a line of food trucks, Chop Soo-ey and Ms. Patty Melt, which serve up gourmet Asian food and sandwiches at local events around town.
Best Restaurateur: James Brennan & Brian Malarkey
When restaurant mogul Brennan teamed up with Top Chef Malarkey to open one of San Diego’s hottest new nightspots, Searsucker, it didn’t take long for the buzz to catch on. With a menu that is as inventive as it is delicious, and an atmosphere that attracts the “in” crowd, Searsucker made number two on Time Magazine’s 10 Hottest Eateries list just months after opening. The team followed that up with restaurants Burlap, Gingham, Gabardine, and Herringbone, and are rumored to have 15 more in the works. (www.ehgrp.com)
Best Sommelier: Jesse Rodriguez
With over 35,000 bottles at his disposal, Jesse Rodriguez once again proves he’s San Diego’s top choice for a wine insider. Rodriguez has achieved Advanced Sommelier status, the second-highest distinction possible through the Court of Master Sommeliers, and such skills, combined with the expertise of Addison at The Grand Del Mar’s lead sommelier Angelo Ingrati, have contributed to why Addison is now a semi-finalist for this year’s coveted James Beard Award. (858.314.2000, www.thegranddelmar.com)
Best Bartender: Cory Jacklyn
Our 2009 Best Bartender, Cory Jacklyn, is back this year. Jacklyn (who previously won while at Arterra) now serves up style and innovation at Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa, preparing drinks both classic and new. “A Sazerac is always a cocktail I will enjoy,” he says, “and I do like finding bars that have their own twist on an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan.” Aside from the extensive wine and craft beer list he oversees, Jacklyn and his team at Estancia have started a housemade bitters program and are experimenting with barrel aging spirits. When the San Diego native and father isn’t pouring and mixing, he’s visiting bars both local and international for inspiration and a pure bourbon to wet his whistle. (858.550.1000, www.estancialajolla.com)
Local Well-Known You’d Like to Lunch With: Mitt Romney
If political intrigue and an in-depth look into one of the most impressive political careers in the country is your taste for conversation, then new La Jolla resident Romney is the guy. Though he lost the seat to the White House, he came to the next best place.
Local Up-And-Comer to Watch: Gary Weitzman
With more than 20 years experience in veterinary medicine, the president of the San Diego Humane Society’s past is steeped in altruism, from serving in the U.S. Air Force, to nonprofit sector work in both human and animal public health. He later served as the CEO of the Washington Animal Rescue League, where his programs became a recognized leader in animal physical and behavioral rehabilitation. Got a question about animals, then tune into his radio show on KPBS 89.5 FM every Saturday at 5am and Sunday at 7pm. (www.sdhumane.org)
Best Local Nonprofit: Lions Tigers & Bears
Dedicated to the conservation and rescue of wild animals, as well as educating people about the need for and care of them, Alpine-based Lions Tigers & Bears offers a variety of community programs that show San Diegans the true beauty of our big cat and bear population. Save the date for Wild in the Country Gala, LTB’s biggest fundraiser of the year, on Saturday, May 4. Enjoy live music, beverages, food catered by Phil’s BBQ, live and silent auction items, and chances to see the exotic animals. (619.659.8078, www.lionstigersandbears.org) RYAN THOMAS