As one tumultuous year comes to a close and a new one begins, we’re celebrating those paving the way to a brighter future in our region’s restaurant industry. From the farm to the kitchen to the front of house, these individuals deserve the spotlight not only for their talent, grit and determination but also their ability to lead and inspire during one of the industry’s most trying times.

As they pursue their passions and find their niches, they’re spreading joy with everything from boiled bagels to Vietnamese coffee to edible flowers. They’re also using their newfound platforms to address topics such as sustainability, food heritage and equity within both the industry and our communities.

Despite the uncertainty that the pandemic has caused – and continues to cause – these rising stars exhibit a level of creativity and optimism that makes us hopeful for better – and more delicious – days ahead.