As the culinary world eagerly awaits the 2023 Best of the Valley Restaurant Awards, there is a special sense of anticipation this year, as the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award is set to be bestowed upon the LaRocca family. Presented by the Fresno Chapter of the California Restaurant Association (CRA), this annual event recognizes the Valley’s finest dining establishments and the passionate individuals behind them. This year’s ceremony, to be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Fresno, will also induct Vincent Papagni and Ichiro Yoshino into the Hall of Fame, honoring their profound impact on the region’s culinary landscape.
Pat LaRocca, the proud owner of FIVE Restaurant, expressed heartfelt gratitude on behalf of his entire family for this esteemed honor. The LaRocca family’s journey began when Carmine and Giuseppina LaRocca, hailing from Pacentro, Italy, moved to Fresno in 1967 and opened LaRocca’s Ristorante Italiano in 1980. For over three decades, they served the community with authentic Italian delicacies, leaving an indelible mark on the region’s culinary heritage.
The Lifetime Achievement Award recipients share the spotlight with the Hall of Fame inductees, Vincent Papagni and Ichiro Yoshino. Both posthumously honored, they are recognized for their unwavering dedication to the restaurant and hospitality industry and their invaluable contributions to the community.
The Best of the Valley Restaurant Awards have become an institution over the past 30 years, celebrating the diverse array of culinary talents and flavors that the Valley has to offer. This year, the awards have an added touch of community involvement, with the public having a say in the nomination process, while the final voting is entrusted to CRA members and the deserving nominees themselves.
“This event is a testament to the passion and hard work that these restaurants put into creating memorable dining experiences for their patrons,” commented Raul Gutierrez, President of the CRA Fresno Chapter. “The recognition from the dining public and their peers speaks volumes about the quality of their establishments.”
From upscale fine dining to quaint bistros, from traditional eateries to innovative fusion kitchens, the Valley’s culinary scene boasts an impressive variety of options that cater to every palate. It’s a testament to the diverse cultures and flavors that have come together to make the region a gastronomic haven.
As the nominees eagerly await the awards ceremony, the excitement is palpable. The celebration promises to be a dazzling affair filled with gourmet delights, wine toasts, and heartwarming stories of culinary legacies.
The 2023 Best of the Valley Restaurant Awards promises to be an unforgettable evening, honoring the LaRocca family’s lifetime of devotion to the culinary arts and recognizing the outstanding contributions of Vincent Papagni and Ichiro Yoshino. This annual event stands as a tribute to the thriving culinary community and the enduring legacy of those who continue to shape and enrich the Valley’s dining landscape.
For those eager to join in the celebration, tickets are available to the public and the news media. The evening of Monday, May 22nd, will undoubtedly be a night to remember as the Valley comes together to revel in the flavors that have defined its culinary excellence. Saluté!