As editor of this fine magazine, I couldn’t tell you how many times I am asked by someone for a recommendation. They want to know what BYOB they should be reserving a table for, or where they can buy a birthday gift for their mother-in-law, or what jeweler they should head to for that shiny new piece of bling. It seems as if people think I have all the answers, and while I pride myself on being someone who is plugged in, I’d be lying if I said I did.
Which is why I so look forward to our annual Best of the Best issue. It’s the culmination of a painstaking 12 months of eating, drinking, shopping and pampering in search of what makes our area so special. It may sound like a lot of fun, and generally it is, but it’s not easy by any means. From the familiar favorites to the newly discovered hidden gems, the effort we put in shows how serious we take this stuff. And we know you do too, which is why we once again opened up the voting to our readers. The response was tremendous, with nearly 4,100 ballots being cast. Turn to Page 40 to check out this year’s crop of winners and see what all the fuss is about. Like every year, you may agree or disagree with our selections, but you can’t deny that we’ve done our homework.
We are also excited this month to present another feature that’s been months in the making. On Page 56 we take a trip back in time to trace the history of the legendary Latin Casino in Cherry Hill. We spoke with many people involved with the club who share some vivid memories of how this South Jersey hot spot became home to some of the world’s biggest entertainers. While putting the story together we discovered one of our new colleagues, Bill Neale, had quite the connection to the venue having played guitar for the likes of Sammy Davis Jr., the Spinners and the Temptations, to name a few. It’s just another fascinating story stemming from the days when the stars flocked to South Jersey for the chance to take the Latin stage.
There’s also a lot more to like about this month, from our hilarious chat with comedian Wanda Sykes to our profile of famed chef Jose Garces. It’s been a long year putting together this Best of the Best issue and quite frankly, we’re a little exhausted. But there’s no rest for the weary—after all, we are already cracking on next year’s list!
Peter J. Proko
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 4 July, 2014).
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