BEST OF JACKSON HOLE 2016

By on March 23, 2016

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There’s a telltale indicator of how long someone has lived in Jackson Hole. If you ask a recent pilgrim her favorite thing about the valley, chances are she’ll point to an affinity for the outdoors. She loves laying fresh tracks in the Crags, pounding Putt Putt on her mountain bike and summiting peaks in the Tetons.

Yes, us Planetoids are fully amped on all of these activities, too. But we’re more excited about the answer that comes from someone whose roots are planted just a little deeper. Because these are the people who recognize that one of the most unique aspects of Jackson Hole is its community.

It takes some time and effort to arrive at this realization though. Those who spend only winters or summers here, who invest their energy into one particular sphere —whether it is skiing or real estate or fishing—those who do not cheerfully suffer through the soggy off-seasons with the rest of us, who do not have the opportunity to savor Jackson at a slower pace, miss out on getting to know some of the remarkable people who make Jackson Hole a community like nowhere else in the world. A place where strangers, whether on the street or the trail, still look each other in the eye and exchange easy pleasantries. A place that, after some time, softens even the hardest of former city dwellers (this author included).

That’s why each year we at The Planet forfeit plenty of sleep and endure painstaking powderless days for our Best of Jackson Hole issue. BOJH Issue 8—comprised of our readers’ poll, which thousands of readers voted in, and editors’ choice awards, dreamt up by a diverse team of scribes—allows us a moment to celebrate some of the people who make Jackson Hole a place worth living in.

People like Danny Collins, the readers’ choice silver winner for Best Nurse. Collins’ road to becoming a nurse was long and arduous, and this is perhaps the reason he pours so much love into what he does today. People like Wild Bill Bowen, editors’ pick for Best Ski Hill Personality, that emobody an undying love for this place. After sharing the same tram with Bowen even once, you’ll never forget him, or his fiery onesie. And then there are folks like Dr. Annie Fenn, readers’ choice gold winner for Best Blogger. One day the good doctor decided that food really is the best medicine. Today she spends her time writing about people in the local food scene making strides toward sustainability, both on her blog, JacksonHoleFoodie.com, and in her bi-weekly Planet column, The Foodie Files.

The secret may be out about Jackson Hole—when I reveal where I live to people in other parts of the country, and the world, sighs of envy have become de rigueur. But these are folks gushing over the aesthetics. Just imagine if they knew even a modicum of the people we proudly call our own. Here’s to some of the Best of Jackson Hole.

– Robyn Vincent, editor

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Best Nonprofit

Gold: Habitat for Humanity
Silver: PAWS
Bronze: Animal Adoption Center

Best Charity Event
Gold: Old Bill’s Fun Run
Silver: Bras for a Cause
Bronze: Fireman’s Ball

Best Teacher
Gold: Krista Stevens
Silver: Heather Harrington
Bronze: Kelly Kaiser

Best Lawyer
Gold: Doug Schultz
Silver: David DeFazio
Bronze: Dick Stout

Best Dentist
Gold: Scott Larsen
Silver: Catherine Tebay
Bronze: Tyler Bergien

Best Nurse
Gold: Mary Ness
Silver: Danny Collins
Bronze: Tessa Enright

Best Banker
Gold: Jacob Stark
Silver: Pete Lawton
Bronze: Frank Lyons
Bronze: Lance Ash

Best Athlete
Gold: Travis Rice
Silver: Crystal Wright
Bronze: Jimmy Chin

Best Athlete (Under 17)
Gold: Daniel Tisi
Silver: Theo Dawson
Bronze: Hazel Brooke Davis

Best Real Estate Agent
Gold: Katie Colbert Brady
Silver: Mack Mendenhall
Bronze: Marybeth Hansen

Best Elected Official
Gold: Sara Flitner
Silver: Jim Stanford
Bronze: Barbara Allen

Best Elected Official Who Doesn’t Hold Office
Gold: Mark Barron
Silver: Bob Morris
Bronze: Jesse Rezin

Best Boss
Gold: Joe Rice
Silver: Gavin Fine
Bronze: Park Dunn-Morrison

Best Librarian
Gold: Diana Eden
Silver: Byron Tomingas
Bronze: Jess Johnson

Best Dressed
Gold: Blake Morley
Silver: Dana Sanders Souther
Bronze: Albie Robertson

Best Interior Designer
Gold: Kate Binger
Silver: Kristin Fay
Bronze: Jen Visosky

Best Knee Doctor
Gold: David Khoury
Silver: Angus Goetz
Bronze: Bill Neal

Best Physician
Gold: Bruce Hayse
Silver: Mark Menolascino
Bronze: Brent Blue

Best Yoga/Fitness Instructor
Gold: Ariel Mann
Silver: Niki Sue Mueller
Bronze: Neesha Zollinger

Best Alternative Medicine Practitioner
Gold: Mark Menolascino
Silver: Kevin Meehan
Bronze: Taug Boschen

Best Physical Therapist
Gold: Hayden Hilke
Silver: Francine Bartlett
Bronze: Norene Christensen

Best Massage Therapist
Gold: Rena Trail
Silver: Dan Hady
Bronze: Allison McKeehan
Bronze: Kim Young

Best Architect
Gold: Jamie Farmer
Silver: John Carney
Bronze: Nona Yehia

Best Hair Stylist
Gold: Jenny Bragg – Jackson Parlour
Silver: Rob Hollis – Frost
Bronze: Tori Jo Carson – Tori

Best River Guide
Gold: Lily Shipley
Silver: Hunter Verde
Bronze: Jim Stackhouse

Best Mountain Guide
Gold: Zahan Billimoria
Silver: Tim Cohn
Bronze: Brendan Burns

Best Valley Advocate
Gold: Mark Barron
Silver: Bob Morris
Bronze: Craig Benjamin
Bronze: Pete Muldoon

Best Blogger
Gold: Annie Fenn
Silver: Meagan Murtagh
Bronze: Scott Anderson

Best Bus Driver
Gold: Jeff “JC” Cunnington
Silver: Greg Smith
Bronze: Marc Loebe

Best Local Scandal
Gold: Walgreens
Silver: Budge Drive Landslide
Bronze: The Legend of Dave

Best Reason to Drive to Driggs/Victor
Gold: Victor Emporium
Silver: Music on Main
Bronze: Big Hole BBQ

Readers’ Choice
Best Librarian
Diana Eden

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Diana Eden buzzes like a hummingbird as she sorts through her to-do list. The Teton County Library is her passion. With a wry sense of humor, she reflects on how the library might be her favorite enabler. Eden has become an accumulator of quirky vintage items over the years; the library has given her access to hundreds of books on collections and has given her solace that she is not alone in her idiosyncrasies.

But that’s not the only thing Eden loves about the library. With her vast knowledge of books, contemporary and classic, Eden relishes in finding the perfect book for anyone that walks through the door.

Being a librarian might resonate with a certain type of person. Eden’s coworkers seem to have a penchant for dressing alike, whether it is Christmas sweaters in the summer or year-round plaids and stripes. Even when they aren’t inadvertently dressed alike, their opinions on Eden remain the same across the board: She is an awesome delight.

One of her coworkers described her as a dual threat—she is creative and artistic with the brains to back it up. Eden beautifies things everywhere she goes, from her collections at home to the library displays she presides over.

Indeed, if you’ve walked through the doors of the Teton County Library, you’ve probably been subconsciously influenced by Eden’s eye for style and good taste in books.

– Natosha Hoduski

Readers’ Choice
Best Teacher
Krista Stevens (Colter Elementary, Fourth Grade)

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Some of The Planet’s Best of winners are a reflection of candidates who campaign hard for votes. Not in this category. In order to get enough votes to be Best Teacher, one would have to assume a true winner. In the case of Krista Stevens, gold medalist for her work at Colter Elementary with the fourth grade, Stevens’ influence had to reach one step removed from her kids to their parents.

Sure, the average 10-year-old is savvy enough to work the interwebs and navigate their way through our online poll. But we generally don’t count 10-year-olds as factoring too significantly into our demographics. Likely, these students were so taken with their beloved teacher that the “shine” spread to their parents. Mom and dad noticed how well their kid was learning, and they were moved to vote about it.

In these days when PAWS testing and Common Core dominate headlines, it’s easy to forget what it’s really all about: The boots on the ground. These unsung heroes shape our future one kiddo at a time. Their inspiration lasts a lifetime. They sacrifice time, talent, and often their own money. As the meme goes: Teachers don’t teach for the income, they teach for the outcome.

Krista, we are honored to give you this recognition for your eight years at Colter. Someone has noticed your efforts. A lot of someones. But your kids already knew that.

– Jake Nichols

Editors’ Choice
Best Ski Hill Personality
Wild Bill Bowen

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Has local legend Wild Bill ever clipped your pack to the tram pole because you left a few buckles undone? Have you heard his hilarious remarks when the tram loads, as he playfully pushes you into a corner? For a veteran athlete at JHMR, Wild Bill tram pranks are pure entertainment. Wearing his signature orange ski suit, with his long hair blowing, Bill Bowen always has a look of childlike wonder on his face. “I don’t know what to do with my hands on the tram,” he admits. “There is so much time.”

Bowen has nailed S & S twice this season, gone out to Pandora, traversed from the tram to Housetop to Baldy Knoll to Victor, and roped his way through Bird Brain twice over. Back when he was new in Jackson Hole 37 years ago, he already knew what was up. “The overwhelming power of the mountains here. People are hardy. There is so much opportunity.”

Well known for his colorful personality and insatiable appetite for adventure, he is frequently seen exploring with his old school ski buddies Brian Rutter and Jason Steigelmeyer, or close friend and fellow athlete Meredith Edwards. But he says, “I ski by myself with everybody.”

A purist to the end, Bill’s one request of his ski peers: he wishes “people would drink less and ski more.”

– Jessica Flammang

Editors’ Choice
Best Backcountry Tool (besides a beacon)
Bridger Teton Avalanche Center

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When in doubt, check it out. Ready to rock and fully updated by 7 a.m. every day, the Bridger Teton Avalanche Center chugs right along through the winter with morning and evening updates to assist backcountry enthusiasts in staying apprised of the snowpack. Thanks to avalanche forecasters like Mike Rheam and Bob Comey, the morning snowcast makes planning for a day outside pretty simple, summarizing mountain temps at different elevations, as well as the forecast for the day.  The avalanche information tab serves as a nice avenue that allows people to share avalanche events, observations and snow pit details. One of the wonders of jhavalanche.org is the instant database for weather and snow data. This allows one to check Teton, Togwotee Pass, and Grey’s River area raw data directories. So, if the day is changing fast and you get a late start, updated temps, and wind are also available anytime with the swipe of a smartphone. BTAF has worked hard to contribute to community safety and communication. This resource is a great place to keep snow safety in the minds of the masses. And let’s admit it, when late spring comes around and we see that last message saying the daily forecasts will no longer be updated, a little bit of sadness trickles into our hearts.

– Elizabeth Koutrelakos

Editors’ Choice
Best Taste in Books
Karilyn Brodell

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A book slinger at Valley Bookstore for 23 years, Karilyn Brodell is a literary tastemaker.

She always has her finger on the pulse of new releases and up-and-coming authors, going out of her way to challenge her tastes and worldview with new voices. Customers know to come into the store to ask for Karilyn’s recommendations, because she never defaults to a dusty classic. She’ll always surprise you because she allows books to surprise her. Her taste is impossible to nail down and richer for that very reason.

With more Staff Picks around the store than any other employee, Karilyn is known to put an unknown title in your hands months before the book becomes a trendy bestseller. I can only wonder how many Jacksonites read “All The Light We Cannot See” specifically because she recommended it long before it won a Pulitzer.

Karilyn has a respect and love for the bookstore that is unmatched, as evidenced by the store decorations she installs on her days off. She is emblematic of a caliber of local customer care that is slipping out of seasonal Jackson’s fingertips.

– Andrew Munz

Readers’ Choice
Best Blogger
Annie Fenn, MD (JacksonHoleFoodie.com)

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With tens of thousands of food blogs to choose from, Jacksonites gravitate toward Annie Fenn’s JacksonHoleFoodie.com. In fact, her blog posts are what turned the head of Planet editor Robyn Vincent, who asked Fenn one year ago to pen a bi-weekly food column, The Foodie Files (turn to page 10 for this week’s installment). Today, the column is well loved by readers across the valley.

Not only are Fenn’s blog posts intimate and well written, her photos and recipes are drool worthy. Plus, there’s a loving focus on homegrown businesses and local products, which is refreshing compared to other run-of-the-mill food blogs.

Jackson Hole Foodie has been active for about five years, and Fenn’s viewership remains loyal and constant, with views reaching as high as 2,000 per day in the summer season.

“Is that a lot?” she asked me with a nervous chuckle. Fenn’s unpretentious approach to food and blogging is rooted in her passion for the experience food can deliver. Her more than 500 subscribers are constantly treated to her insights and tips. She insists, however, that she’s not a food critic, and would rather highlight a restaurant’s culinary feats than criticize its downfalls.

When it comes to Jackson’s food scene, she loves that there’s an emphasis on food production. “People here are do-it-yourselfers,” she said. “Jackson has a real down-to-earth Western perspective on food. When I meet those people, I get really excited, and I want to write about them.”

– Andrew Munz

Editors’ Choice
Best Thing to Happen to Jackson Hole
The Coming Climate (The Charture Institute)

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A seminal report released last summer—The Coming Climate—has already proven prophetic. The first scientific study to solely focus on how climate change will affect the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem warns, among other things, that winters in the Tetons will begin and end earlier and winter storms will be warmer and wetter. Cue the winter of 2015/16, and the winters of recent memory.

Commissioned by the nonpartisan think tank Charture Institute and conducted by the Teton Research Institute of Teton Science Schools, the report reveals a warming trend across Teton County, where the annual average minimum temp has risen 1.3 degrees since 1948. The annual average maximum temperature has climbed 1.6 degrees. Most of this warming occurred since 1980, explain the study’s co-authors Corinna Riginos, PhD, and Teton County Commissioner Mark Newcomb.

As more people acknowledge that climate change is the most significant threat facing humanity, community dialogue is becoming increasingly important. That’s why in a place with one of the most diverse and intact ecosystems in the world, where the economy hangs on the health of the environment, The Coming Climate is the Best Thing to Happen to Jackson Hole.

“The first step is clearly identifying the issue and raising consciousness,” said Charture Institute’s Jonathan Schechter. “You can’t solve the problem unless you can identify it.” Read the full report here.     

– Robyn Vincent

Editors’ Choice
Best New Leader of the Redcoats
Jen Calder

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New this spring to the leadership triage at JHMR, Jen Calder is the first female to hold a management position among the 80 patrollers in the ski area’s 50-year history. As the new assistant ski patrol director, and a veteran ski patroller on her 19th season, she works side by side with Drew Kneeland and Tom Bartlett to strategize each day’s safety on the ski hill. She jokes that she can’t remember the last time when she skied for herself was, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I can’t imagine doing anything else,” she said.

Each morning Jen is out of the house at the 6 o’clock hour. Commuting from Teton Valley to the ski hill, she nibbles on a granola bar and looks forward to patrol’s second breakfast at 9:30 or 10 after the mountain is open.

When Jen arrived in the valley in 1990, it wasn’t just the resort’s backcountry gates that were closed, but the gates for women in many outdoor spheres were seemingly shut down. Today, however, Jen’s brave yet lighthearted demeanor has opened the minds of the good old boy network. The mountains are for everyone, she often proclaims. And for the [insert age] skier, “Patrolling at JHMR, and being promoted to a leadership role has been very liberating.”

– Jessica Flammang

Readers’ Choice
Best Nurse
Danny Collins

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Danny Collins, 44, did nursing the hard way. Danny contemplated a radical career change as he approached 40. The 22-year pastry chef was ready to trade in his pies and tortes for thermometers and bandages. He wanted to become a nurse. Danny began working at St. John’s Medical Center in 2010 as a CNA. While paying his dues in the Living Center and PCU, Collins also hit the books. For six years he studied before applying to Central Wyoming College’s nursing program. He didn’t get in.

So Danny moved to Lander where he was accepted into a CWC program in Riverton. Then Danny’s wife—Rona Ferguson—experienced health issues that forced the couple back to Jackson. Danny had to drop out of the nursing program. Friends and family drew in close to support the couple. Rona recovered, Danny had to start over from scratch but he wouldn’t give up. His new application was finally accepted in April 2013. Danny’s dream was realized last June when he and Rona were returning from Ogden, Utah, where Danny took the NCLEX. They got word on the way home that he passed. Rona pitched her man on February 1. Her Facebook post read: “Just throwing it out there … If you’re doing the best of Jackson Hole survey, don’t forget Danny Collins for best nurse!!” Whether or not you’ve experienced his TLC, you’ve got to admire his TCB.

Congrats on the silver, Danny.

– Jake Nichols

Readers’ Choice
Best Mountain Guide
Zahan Billimoria – Exum Mountain Guides

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Growing up in Switzerland, when Zahan Billimoria turned 18 his parents did something that would forever shift the trajectory of his life. They sent him out skiing with French guide Christophe Profit. Zahan was already passionate about skiing and mountaineering. But having a sensei that built a career around a love for the mountains inspired Zahan to do the same.

Today, Zahan has been a professional guide for 11 years with an impressive alpine resume. He says his favorite part of guiding isn’t the glory of first ascents, but rather the relationships he builds with his clients. He considers them his close friends.

In many ways, Zahan’s humility plays just as big a role in his success as a guide as it does his ability in the mountains. When asked about his most noteworthy achievements, Zahan recalled long days in the park with a client now in his 70s. “As a guide the most impressive things you do might not be what you accomplish, but what you enable others to accomplish,” he said.

Zahan  also points to his colleagues as the reason for his guiding success. Exum and other Teton guides are among the best in the world, he said, and working side by side with them inspires him to be better.
Though not boastful about his mountaineering accomplishments, Zahan did confess that filming and riding the Otter Body on The Grand Teton with TGR athletes Jeremy Jones and Brian Iguchi was something he will never forget. Everything about the day was perfect: the crew, the weather, and being able to ski such a cool line on his home mountain. Skiing routes in the Tetons with TGR athletes opened Zahan’s eyes to what big mountain skiing can look like at the hands of the pros.

– Park Dunn-Morrison

Readers’ Choice
Best Elected Official
Jim Stanford – Jackson Town Councilman

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Being a good elected official is a difficult and thankless job. It requires in-depth knowledge on a wide breadth of convoluted topics, the ability to actively listen and the wherewithal to know when it’s time to compromise and when it’s time to stand your ground. In order to be effective, you have to do your homework and understand not only your position, but that of your adversaries too.

And if you’re going to represent all of your constituents (not just the wealthy and powerful, but also those without money or political power), you’re going to have your work cut out for you. Jackson Town Councilman Jim Stanford has consistently stood up for working class residents. He is oftentimes the lone voice willing to speak out against special interests and powerful valley fixtures.

In 2014, he was the sole town councilor who voted against giving the developers of the new Marriott Hotel an exemption to the zoning rules. He was also the only councilor to stand firm against increased commercial development throughout the new LDR process. He opposed the license plate surveillance system for parking enforcement and has fought to preserve the character of Snow King as a community amenity, not an amusement park.

Those are tough positions to take if you’re looking to cash in after you’re out of office, but they’re the kind of votes Stanford makes regularly. Thanks for representing the people, Jim.

– Pete Muldoon

Editors’ Choice
Best Stoke in the sky
Richard Grove

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For Richard Grove, happiness is flying. The Jackson-based commercial airline pilot is an all-seasons accomplished athlete. But being in the sky is what gets him most high. His professional flying passion is piloting Boeing 767s around the world. When he’s not manning commercial aircraft, you can find him paragliding in the Tetons. And in winter, Grove combines his life-long love of skiing and paragliding for some speed riding.

Consulting airline weather apps every day for work, Grove also uses that professional know-how to anticipate what the conditions will be for speed riding when he gets home. “Heaven is when I see light winds and fresh powder in Jackson,” Grove exclaimed with a huge smile.

Grove’s Swing Mirage 13.5 meter wing fits in a small backpack, so he can hike up a mountain, fly and ski down, pack it up and walk home. And of course there’s the rush from flying south of the JHMR boundary off the Rock Springs Buttress or the Powder 8 launch over Breakneck (his two favs). From these launches, he is typically airborne for about a mile and averages anywhere between 25 and 50 mph before his skis land on the snow.

When asked to describe the thrill of flying with skis affixed to his feet, Grove sighed wistfully. “The thrill of it is…indescribable.”

– Carol Mann

Editors’ Choice
Best Feminist of the West
Lynn Sherwood

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When you think of feminists, images of burning bras and protest signs quickly come to mind. But you won’t find Lynn Sherwood burning her bra any time soon.  What Lynn is burning most of the time, however, is gunpowder.  A self-described serial entrepreneur, Lynn is no stranger to running a business in Jackson Hole. High Caliber Woman is Lynn’s newest baby; providing courses in self-defense, body language, firearms training, etc. exclusively to female clients.  Watching Lynn on the range, you’ll notice her enthusiasm, her confidence, and her comfort in handling even the biggest guns.  She can take a female student from a place of debilitating fear to a place of joyful empowerment.  It is obvious she is along for the ride every step of the way.  That’s because Lynn herself had a life-long fear of guns.  When she and her husband, Shepard Humphries, started Jackson Hole Shooting Experience in 2010, Lynn realized that her fear was of the “bad guy behind the gun,” rather than the gun itself.  When she took a pistol course to demystify the object, firing those first shots that day was hard.  But she quickly realized shooting could be safe and fun.  She knew at that moment she wanted to share this with other women and thus High Caliber Woman was born.  Today Lynn is helping women to recognize and overcome their own perceived limitations, one shot at a time.

– Gloria Courser

Readers’ Choice
Best River Guide
Lily Shipley

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When she’s not chasing after her dog, Ranger, whose favorite part of river trips is jumping out of the boat, Lily Shipley is running float trips for Dave Hansen Whitewater. “It’s hard not to make going down the Snake River fun,” Lily said.

Originally from Maine, she grew up on the ocean, but fell in love with the river. Now in her fifth season of guiding, Lily’s love for kids and her passion for wildlife shine through. She loves hearing the question from children, “Do moose and elk mate with each other?” And she always gets a good laugh when they ask if they will be paddling back up the river for their return mission.

She knows how special it is for guests, whom she estimates are in the hundreds, since it is often their first or second time on a river. Lily appreciates watching the migration cycles of elk and moose, and cherishes when she saw a mountain lion on the river. It is “having the opportunity to help folks understand and appreciate our ecosystem and Jackson lifestyle that drives me back to guiding each season.”

For Lily, the river symbols a form of rebirth: “Every day is a new day on the river,” she said.

– Jessica Flammang

Readers’ Choice
Best Valley Advocate
Craig Benjamin & Pete Muldoon

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One of the most meaningful categories in the Readers’ Poll, Best Valley Advocate recognizes people who are a voice for the voiceless. They are the watchdogs of the valley, the folks who hold elected officials accountable and place public policy under the microscope.

The two people tied for bronze in this category—Craig Benjamin and Pete Muldoon—both happen to be some of The Planet’s most well received opinion columnists. But it isn’t just their writing acumen that landed them this award.

Craig Benjamin

When asked about the impetus for a career in advocacy work, Craig Benjamin recalled his former life as a Jackson Hole ski bum. How he had a penchant for complaining about the impending perils of climate change. His girlfriend-now-wife, Stacy, told him to quit his bitching or do something about it. So he left Jackson to get a master’s degree in public administration focused on environmental policy and sustainability. Three years ago Craig returned with new purpose.

Today, as executive director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, he has transformed the nonprofit into an organization that is waging a dogged battle to protect the people, wildlife and character of Jackson Hole. While the Alliance has always advocated in the name of conservation, under Craig’s leadership its outreach efforts have expanded exponentially.

“This is not your grandmother’s Alliance,” joked Skye Schell, civic engagement director.

Indeed, Craig’s effective advocacy work in other places—from pedestrian and bicyclist initiatives, to helping shutter a coal-fired power plant while managing to inject millions into local economic development—has helped him in Jackson Hole to mold the Alliance into an organization that empowers locals.

The Alliance’s Conservation Leadership Institute is a free program that grooms citizens to be agents of change in the community. Participants glean effective strategies to tackle Jackson’s most pressing issues du jour, from housing and transportation to wildlife and the local economy.

Rallying hundreds of people to speak out against commercial development, the Alliance demonstrated to citizens the power they have in the political process. Town leaders heard the roar and eventually acquiesced, agreeing to freeze commercial development potential in the downtown core.

A gifted storyteller with a useful anecdote for just about every situation, Craig pointed to this quote as a source of his inspiration: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Pete Muldoon

Sixteen-year Jackson resident Pete Muldoon has long been wielding the power of his pen to illuminate important issues in Jackson Hole. Today he ignites community dialogue with his blog, Outside the Hole, and just about every time he steps up to the podium at a town or county meeting.

Pete is not one to shy away from contentious issues. In fact they are the very problems that he relishes dissecting. Pete broke the news on Blair Place Apartments’ 40-percent rent increase, highlighting yet another aspect of the valley’s housing woes. He has weighed in on several local economy discussions, and most recently challenged the decision of certain Cowboy State lawmakers to reject Medicaid expansion in the state of Wyoming. Rife with well-researched information, his unpaid words help folks grasp the convoluted issues that comprise the local political and economic spheres.

Recognizing the efforts of myriad people fighting for Jackson Hole, Pete was hesitant to call himself an advocate. But we were at least able to squeeze this out of him: “I think I’ve contributed a little towards helping people see how they are affected by politics and policy, and trying to remind them that they do have power if they’ll exercise it. That things will always be this way until one day they aren’t. I think a lot of people have been taught to be cynical, but we can actually change things. We have agency. We need a better imagination, and the courage to re-examine ideologies and belief systems we were given years ago but that were never revisited.”

We see a future in politics for Mr. Muldoon.

— Robyn Vincent

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Goods&Services_header

Best Hotel
Gold: Hotel Terra
Silver: Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole
Bronze: The Wort Hotel

Best Full Service Spa
Gold: Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole
Silver: Chill Spa
Bronze: Spa Terre

Best Hair Salon
Gold: Frost Salon
Silver: Champu Salon
Bronze: Jackson Parlour

Best Shop for Dropping Obscene Amounts of Cash
Gold: Terra Jackson Hole
Silver: Altitude
Bronze: Teton Mountaineering

Best Rafting Company
Gold: Dave Hansen
Silver: Mad River Boat Trips
Bronze: Jackson Hole Whitewater
Bronze: Barker-Ewing Whitewater

Best Snowmobiling Company
Gold: Togwotee Adventures
Silver: Scenic Safaris
Bronze: Jackson Hole Adventure Rentals

Best Fishing Outfitter
Gold: Snake River Angler
Silver: West Bank Anglers
Bronze: World Cast Anglers

Best Gear Shop
Gold: Teton Mountaineering
Silver: Hoback Sports
Silver: Skinny Skis
Bronze: Headwall Sports

Best Bike Shop
Gold: Hoback Sports
Silver: Hoff’s Bikesmith
Bronze: Wilson Backcountry Sports

Best Veterinary Clinic
Gold: Spring Creek Animal Hospital
Silver: Animal Care Clinic
Bronze: Fish Creek Vet Clinic

Best Yoga/Fitness Spot
Gold: Inversion
Silver: Pursue Movement
Bronze: Akasha Yoga

Best Pet Supply Store
Gold: Pet Place Plus
Silver: Teton Tails
Bronze: Jackson Hole Feed & Pet

Best Pet Care Provider
Gold: DogJax
Silver: Spring Creek Animal Hospital
Bronze: Animal Care Clinic

Best Cleaning Company
Gold: Blue Spruce Cleaners
Silver: Premier Green Cleaning
Bronze: White Glove

Best Place to Buy Booze
Gold: The Liquor Store
Silver: Smith’s
Bronze: Liquor Down South

Best Florist
Gold: Lily & Co
Silver: Jackson Hole Flower Co.
Bronze: Floral Art

Best Taxi Service
Gold: Cash Cab
Silver: Flying T Taxi
Bronze: Cowboy Cab

Best Produce
Gold: Jackson Whole Grocer
Silver: Lucky’s Market
Bronze: Smith’s

Best Bank
Gold: Bank of Jackson Hole
Silver: First Interstate Bank
Bronze: Wells Fargo Bank

Best Eco-friendly Business
Gold: Blue Spruce Cleaners
Silver: Hotel Terra
Bronze: Jackson Whole Grocer

Best Customer Service
Gold: Spring Creek Animal Hospital
Silver: Jackson Whole Grocer
Bronze: Detail Driven

Best Place to Buy Drugs
Gold: Stone Drug
Silver: Smith’s
Bronze: Albertsons

Best Shop to Buy Bling
Gold: JC Jewelers
Silver: MADE
Bronze: Thoenig’s Fine Jewelry

Best Resale Store
Gold: Headwall Sports
Silver: Browse ‘N Buy
Bronze: Habitat ReStore

Best Place to Buy a Car
Gold: Teton Motors
Silver: Castlerock
Bronze: Sue’s Roos

Best Local Website
Gold: Buckrail
Silver: Planet JH
Bronze: Mountain Weather

Best Radio Station
Gold: KHOL
Silver: KMTN
Bronze: Wyoming Public Radio

Readers’ Choice
Best Shop to Buy Bling
J.C. Jewelers

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Jan and Jeter Case were Jackson Hole high school sweethearts. They married in their early twenties and their love for each other and for jewelry has been shining through at J.C. Jewelers since 1988.

They are together almost 24/7 and according to Jeter, this works well because it is the ultimate form of commitment; the success of both their marriage and their business are tied together. You can see the comfortable collaboration by watching the way they share their story—neither one interrupts the other as they both lean into each other’s words. If that isn’t cool enough, their jewelry store is housed in a 1930s cabin with decades of creative energy swirling through it. Famous local painter, Archie Teater, once used it as an art studio.

Whether shopping for bling while Jan stands by ready to answer your questions or simply wanting to gaze at gemological art, a visit to this old cabin won’t leave you wanting.  Jeter’s designs are married exquisitely to Jan’s impeccable taste in gemstones.  His style is unique and without rival in the valley.  It’s almost as if the gemstone had a destiny all its own and Jeter was simply the medium to bring it to life.  His elk ivory pieces are crafted by shaping themselves around the ancient tusks.  He does not cut them to size to fit a piece.  Each piece is customized to the ivory itself.  Jeter is an artist—he doesn’t make jewelry, he creates art.

– Gloria Courser

Editors’ Choice
Best Heart of Gold
Michael Ratliff

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Four years ago, retired nurse and cancer survivor Michael Ratliff gave away all his belongings in attempt to lead a simpler life focused on service. For two years, he has served hot breakfasts to hungry folks in Jackson Hole, including 15 residents at the Good Samaritan Mission. The Mission’s kitchen manager considers breakfast a fresh start for those who end up on his doorstep. After his new kitchen remodel this summer, Ratliff says he is set on feeding more than 50 mouths at breakfast and 75 at dinner. That will increase the free breakfasts he serves from 5,000 to 10,000 per year. With donations from Hole Food Rescue, Albertson’s and other valley orgs, last year Ratliff served 16,000 meals in total. This year he expects that number to increase to about 20,000.

Troubled that “single mothers cannot afford to work,” Ratliff is seeking to partner with local nonprofits to provide a daycare solution for moms. Of course he already has the ball rolling in other spheres with an overflowing food box donation program, free community breakfasts, gospel music mornings, and managing a homeless and women’s shelter.

Ratliff revels in the new addition to the mission: a three-week-old baby named Tyduce, son of a resident at the Mission. “Just holding him changes everything—big construction worker guys just melt,” he said.

Rising at 5 a.m. each day to churn out another breakfast spread for needy folks across the valley, Ratliff insists, “Giving is its own reward.”

– Jessica Flammang

Readers’ Choice
Best Radio Station
KHOL

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Community radio stations are often synonymous with soft-spoken DJs playing esoteric tracks that are even cooler if nobody has heard them before. But KHOL isn’t your everyday community radio station. “We strive to be a voice for creativity,” explained station manager Zach Zimmerman. “Everything from nationally touring bands that no one around here has heard of, to elementary school art openings—we want to let the community know what’s happening in their own backyard and beyond.”

KHOL DJs are seemingly everywhere. They hit the slopes not to ski but to play upbeat music for skiers in line at JHMR. On one March day, Willie Rosenthal had just about everyone in the gondola line dancing as he bumped electronic beats, raising his hands in the air. Yes, when they’re not in the studio hand selecting tracks for their listeners, DJs can be found at various events across town, volunteering their time to hype the crowd. Much of KHOL’s programming has garnered quite a bit of hype too. Where else can you listen to face melting heavy metal from the boys who host the Heavy Metal Massacre followed by an interview with Sen. Bernie Sanders’ wife, Jane? 

The DJs, comprised of young and old folks from all corners of the community, make sure to support one another, too. When he’s out of town, Neil Albert who hosts “Live Phish” on Monday nights streams shows online, like Thomas Gaiennie’s “Jelly Donut.” The beats and the passionate people who play them on KHOL represent the heartbeat of the town.

– Park Dunn-Morrison

Editors’ Choice
Best Snowmobile Guide
Joe “Lefty” Martinez

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When he pulls his two-stroke, Joe “Lefty” Martinez registers an infectious grin on his face. No stranger to the snow or to patience, you can find Joe wrangling mountain ponies through the steeps and wooded chutes of Togwotee Pass with all levels of riders in tow.

Now at Togwotee Mountain Lodge, Lefty has been a snowmobile guide in the valley for 15 years. Hardly slowed down by the loss of his left arm in a motorcycle accident at the age of 21, Lefty says 80 percent of his clients are return customers. The other 15 percent are requests. Lefty loves the bond he builds with clients in the backcountry, and the friendships that are born there. Most of Lefty’s clients are experienced and he loves pushing them to new heights.

Obsessed with the backcountry, [and with showing off videos of his talented wife’s elegant sled donuts], he beams: “Give me one other place in a guidance situation where you can see more of God’s country than what I see every day. I love what I do. I love watching people progress, and showing them these hills. It gives them a flavor of the West and of the outdoors, and what it means to really love the country.”

– Jessica Flammang

Readers’ Choice
Best Salon
Frost Salon

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As someone whose roots are drawn to bleach, I am very particular about which salon I frequent for multiple hours on any given visit. Apparently The Planet’s readers share my discerning tastes.

It’s difficult to find a salon that is progressive but not pompous, where you actually trust your stylist’s judgment. Opened in 2008 by Rob and Patty Hollis, Frost is the ultimate cornucopia of stylists who are in the know without being too knowing. The atmosphere is cool but not icy and the options for beautification and pampering—from specialty color and keratin treatments to manicures, facials and waxing—are abundant.

“We’ve created a true ‘team’ environment, which is so fantastic in an industry like ours,” Patty Hollis said. “People in our industry are very creative and can tend to get competitive, but here we’ve seemed to maintain a cohesive team.”

To stay current on rising trends, Frost stylists gallivant across the country in the name of continued education. Most recently the valley tastemakers were learning new techniques in Chicago and Miami.

A haven for fresh and innovative lines of haircare, skincare and cosmetics that cannot be procured anywhere else in Jackson, Frost has devised a formula that more salons should follow—flaunt good style and leave pretension at the door.

– Robyn Vincent

Editors’ Choice
Best Way to Get Inverted (Off the Mountain)
Teton Yoga Shala – Yoga Ropes/Chair class

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Hanging upside down like a bat might not seem like your standard yoga routine, but at Teton Yoga Shala’s class, Yoga Ropes/Chair it’s standard protocol. “Your hips will shift, and so will your outlook,” said Adi Amar, co-owner and co-founder of the Shala. “The resistance will make you endure.”

It takes a mixture of faith and audacity to walk up the wall, and tip backward suspended by two sets of ropes and a makeshift “saddle,” constructed of yoga blankets. But once in sirsasana, your metabolism and endocrine system, which regulates mood, emotional well being, sleep and wake cycles, are stimulated, along with the circulatory system. Derived from Iyengar yoga, the single or double rope-supported headstand creates more room for nerves and discs by pulling traction on the spine. In chairs, looking backward while twisting the spine long in a seated position opens the sacrum and solar plexus.

“Ropes keep you honest,” Amar said. “It’s an overall system for long-term alignment, and creates a re-patterning of connective tissue and muscle fibers.”

Instructor Michelle Delong sees myriad benefits, too: “ropes and chairs empower people, allowing them to enter poses perhaps not otherwise accessible.”

– Jessica Flammang

Editors’ Choice
Best place to Offer Penance for Sins
Hot Yoga at Inversion

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Have you been bad lately? Walked into Whole Grocers for no reason than to feast at the cookie sample plate? Not cleaned up after your dog at Cache Creek? Had impure thoughts regarding a new four-wheel drive one-ton Chevy? Stole a car? Donated to a political campaign? For some sins to repent is enough. But for others you must suffer for your transgressions. For penance you can go to a three-hour opera performance at The Center Theater, go ice fishing or listen to a presidential debate, but if you have truly transgressed there is only one path to atonement: Hot Yoga at Inversion Yoga.

Hot yoga is about suffering and pain with a teacher encouraging you to seek out what lurks deep inside, as if man or woman could know such shadowy places. You stand on one leg for what seems an eternity, twist and bend, each movement designed to sweat darkness from your soul. The seeming effortless movements by multiple fit, scantily attired females make you feel unworthy, somehow dirty and contemptible. You pray for an end to the misery.

Finally, during savasana, aptly interpreted Corpse Pose, with scented towel on your forehead, you swear that henceforth you will be a nobler human being, a saint perhaps, and all sins are forgiven.

– Mike Bressler

Food-mainheader

Food&Drink_header

Best Restaurant
Gold: Snake River Grill
Silver: Trio
Bronze: Rendezvous Bistro

Best New Restaurant
Gold: Picnic
Silver: Gather
Bronze: Hatch

Best Chef
Gold: Kevin Humphreys – Spur
Silver: Jesse Rezin & Matty Melehes – Q Roadhouse & Brewing Co.
Bronze: Alex Demmon – Pizza Artisan

Best Wait Staff
Gold: Snake River Grill
Silver: Rendezvous Bistro
Bronze: Merry Piglets

Best Bartender
Gold: John-Mark Roufs – Haydens Post
Silver: Patrick (Paco) Thornberry – Q Roadhouse & Brewing Co.
Bronze: Rachel Mazari – Snake River Brewing

Best Local Food or Drink Producer
Gold: Q Roadhouse & Brewing Co.
Silver: Snake River Brewing
Bronze: Lockhart Cattle Co.

Best Chinese Restaurant
Gold: Chinatown
Silver: Noodle Kitchen
Bronze: Ocean City

Best Mexican Restaurant
Gold: Merry Piglets
Silver: El Abuelito
Bronze: Pica’s

Best Thai Restaurant
Gold: Teton Thai
Silver: Teton Thai Plate
Bronze: Thai Me Up

Best Italian Restaurant
Gold: Il Villaggio Osteria
Silver: Nani’s
Bronze: Pizza Artisan

Best “Under the Radar” Restaurant
Gold: Noodle Kitchen
Silver: Teton Thai Plate
Bronze: The Bird

Best Sports Bar
Gold: Sidewinders
Silver: Cutty’s
Bronze: Eleanor’s

Best Teton Valley Restaurant
Gold: Teton Thai
Silver: Big Hole BBQ
Bronze: Knotty Pine

Best Take-out Food
Gold: Teton Thai Plate
Silver: Teton Thai
Bronze: Noodle Kitchen

Best Breakfast Joint
Gold: Nora’s
Silver: Bubba’s
Bronze: The Virginian

Best Lunch Spot
Gold: Lotus Cafe
Silver: Sweetwater
Bronze: Picnic

Best Coffee Shop
Gold: Cowboy Coffee
Silver: Persephone Bakery
Bronze: Pearl Street Bagels

Best Place to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
Gold: Persephone Bakery Bakery
Silver: Coco Love
Bronze: Yippy I-O Candy Co.

Best Baked Goods
Gold: Persephone Bakery
Silver: The Bunnery
Bronze: Picnic

Best Breakfast Burrito
Gold: D.O.G.
Silver: Bubba’s
Bronze: Bodega

Best BBQ
Gold: Bubba’s
Silver: Big Hole BBQ
Bronze: Q Roadhouse & Brewing Co.

Best Sandwich Shop
Gold: Creekside Market
Silver: New York City Subs
Bronze: Pearl Street Market

Best Soups
Gold: Jackson Whole Grocer
Silver: Pearl Street Market
Bronze: Noodle Kitchen

Best Vegetarian Offerings
Gold: Lotus Cafe
Silver: Noodle Kitchen
Bronze: Jackson Whole Grocer

Best Burger
Gold: Liberty Burger
Silver: The Bird
Bronze: Local

Best French Fries
Gold: Trio
Silver: Liberty Burger
Bronze: Local

Best Salsa
Gold: Merry Piglets
Silver: El Abuelito
Bronze: Pica’s

Best Sushi
Gold: King Sushi
Silver: Nikai
Bronze: Sudachi

Best Pizza
Gold: Pinky G’s
Silver: Cutty’s
Bronze: Pizza Artisan

Best Wings
Gold: The Bird
Silver: Eleanor’s
Bronze: Sidewinders

Best Food on the Fly
Gold: Everest Momo Shack
Silver: Nom Nom Doughnut
Bronze: Bo-B-Q

Best Locally Roasted Beans
Gold: Snake River Roasting Company
Silver: Jackson Hole Roasters
Bronze: Cowboy Coffee

Best Pint of Locally Brewed Beer
Gold: Rhombus IPA – Q Roadhouse & Brewing Co.
Silver: Pako’s IPA – Snake River Brewing
Bronze: 2×4 – Melvin Brewing

Best Brewing Company
Gold: Snake River Brewing
Silver: Melvin Brewing
Bronze: Q Roadhouse & Brewing Co.

Best Margarita
Gold: Pica’s
Silver: Merry Piglets
Bronze: Hatch

Best Place to Après
Gold: Spur
Silver: Mangy Moose
Bronze: Q Roadhouse & Brewing Co.

Best Happy Hour
Gold: Local
Silver: Eleanor’s
Bronze: Q Roadhouse & Brewing Co.

Best Bar
Gold: The Rose
Silver: Local
Bronze: Silver Dollar Bar

Readers’ Choice
Best Sushi
King Sushi

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King Sushi embodies the special delight of enjoying sushi in a Western mountain town.  Housed in a rustic-meets-modern cabin, which is always packed with patrons, the décor matches the food: simple yet unique.

Chef-owner Jason King lets his ingredients do the talking by creating thoughtful dishes that are incredibly well balanced. He cares where his fish come from, too. Forging a relationship with a local fishmonger known as “The Captain,” who imports sustainable rare fish from Hawaii, King serves up the best fish Jackson has to offer.

Beyond a fresh catch, it’s King’s ability to enhance his dishes with just the right amount of flavor that sets them apart. In fact, everything on the menu is worth sampling, from Tako Ceviche—a tangy mix of octopus, tomato, red onion, cilantro, lime-zu and cucumber to a Sake Box—meaty wild king salmon, spicy tuna tartare, avocado, tobiko, negi, red chile puree, and sesame seeds. For specialty sashimi, we suggest the Albacore Caprese—albacore tuna, basil, heirloom tomato, balsamic reduction, olive oil, sea salt and black pepper, or the New Style Shiromi—seared white fish, kombu, ginger, garlic, cilantro and ponzu. Of course your visit is not complete without the infamous house roll, Crouching Tiger—we’re talking avocado, tempura asparagus, wild salmon, spicy tuna, wasabi aioli, fried shallot, yuzu tobiko, micro greens and sweet soy.

Now wipe that drool and practice your chopstick skills.

– Park Dunn-Morrison

Editors’ Choice
Best New Buzz
Sloshies at Bodega

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Many of us have developed an obsession for sloshies, some might say we’ve even begun to crave them. Refreshing and thirst quenching, especially in the summer, they are dubbed “not your average frozen drink,” and are now a necessity for any river trip. There are a few different locales to imbibe on sloshie heaven these days. Liquor Down South is a logical stop for a pinã colada, margarita or a huckleberry vodka sloshie. Creekside Market, serving up Greyhounds and the Gros Ventre Slide – Kahlua, Baileys and vodka – also has a deli to devour a fat sandwich beside your sloshie. But this winter, we learned that frozen alcoholic beverages are well-suited to mountain activities, too. Enter Bodega, the newest sloshie station located in Teton Village that also doubles as a small grocer, homemade sausage haven, liquor store and veritable après spot.

Bodega’s headiest flavor yet, the “Trendy Bitch,” is a mix of whiskey and orange Fanta. It takes the title of best new sloshie in town, and the ever-popular Greyhound keeps locals and tourists satiated. The picnic tables outside Bodega have become a local’s favorite for lounging in the sun and the snow.

Not to be mistaken for a smoothie, Bodega sloshies are to be enjoyed no matter the season or reason. We look forward to the next flavor coming soon from our Bodega sloshie architects.

– Jessica Flammang

Readers’ Choice
Best Coffee Shop
Cowboy Coffee

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Have manifestos to write or coups to dream up? Then mosey into Cowboy Coffee. Drinking a cup of Joe can make quite a political statement. For centuries plots have been hatched and revolutions have been crafted in the dark corners of coffee houses. Considered to be a dangerous drink that encourages thinking and planning, coffee was even illegalized at various points throughout history. Thankfully, those days are long gone.

At Cowboy Coffee, the only statement being made is a claim to the Western heritage of Jackson Hole. A claim this coffee shop has every right to stake. Cowboy Coffee has been branding its beans for 27 years. In 2012 owners Pete MacIlwaine and Rob Ottaway rode the brand to the town square, brick and mortar style.  Rustic barn wood ceilings and the casual use of elk antlers for decorative flair remind patrons of the roots of this town.

The “knock you upright” Cowboy Cubano will keep you on your horse for the long ride home and the Bhakti Chai is a reminder that a spicy foreigner can be fun too. Feeling extra sluggish?  Cowboy up and order the Bhakti “dirty” (with a shot of espresso).  And if there’s no need to rush off to the revolution, stick around and check out the revolving roster of local art, which alone makes this place worth the visit.

– Gloria Courser

Editors’ Choice
Best Chef Championing Sustainability
Wes Hamilton (Jackson Hole Mountain Resort)

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As executive chef of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wes Hamilton is the genius behind some of the mountain’s most beloved dishes: the-build-your-own pho bowl, Corbet’s waffles, and Piste Mountain Bistro’s Crispy Salad. He’s received numerous accolades for his “ingredient-driven” style of cooking, including an invitation to represent the food of Jackson Hole at the prestigious James Beard House in 2014 and 2015.

It turns out we have more reasons to love Wes than for his lamb nachos (formerly on the Couloir menu—I’m not the only one hoping he’ll bring them back.) Ali Dunford, executive director of Hole Food Rescue, describes Wes as “passionate and bend-over-backwards committed to building a sustainable food system, despite his insanely busy schedule.” Hamilton first inspired Dunford back when she was attending a training sessions as a JHMR employee. “This was way before HFR was an idea in my head,” she said. “He’s creating a culture around local food and management of food waste.”

Indeed, Wes is the community’s original chef locavore who enjoys longstanding relationships with farmers he’s met while hunting down ingredients in a 250-mile radius. He is the driving force to assure that as much locally sourced food as possible is served in the nine kitchens he overseas top to bottom at JHMR. He’ even revamped Kids Ranch lunches to reduce sugar and increase the fruits and veggies. Hamilton is a founding board member of Vertical Harvest and Hole Food Rescue. When it comes to developing strategies to reduce food waste, compost, and recycle, “Chef Wes is all hands on deck,” Dunford said.

Check out this week’s Foodie Files (page 10) for a Q&A with Wes about everything from feeding kids healthy food to dreaming up great dishes to tackling food waste in Jackson Hole.

– Annie Fenn, MD

Readers’ Choice
Best Chef
Matty Melehes and Jesse Rezin (Q Roadhouse and Brewery)

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Even though Mattty Melehes spends most days in the kitchen of Q Roadhouse and Brewery, he is easily recognizable as one of Jackson’s beloved chefs. This year he shares the Best Chef silver award with co-chef Jesse Rezin.

Rezin and Melehes have been working side by side for one and half years, but their relationship has deeper roots. “Years ago when I was a teenager, my mom asked Jesse to watch over me when she went out of town,” Melehes explained. Yes, Rezin was his babysitter.

Now the Melehes/Rezin team is cooking up a Q Roadhouse menu revamp that moves away from barbecue and illustrates their passion for supporting local farmers and ranchers. Sourcing mass quantities of commodity pork to keep up with demand for Q’s wildly popular barbecue dishes nagged at Melehes’ conscience. “That’s one of the big reasons barbecue is coming off the menu,” he explained. “I reached out to Marion Robinson to source pork more sustainably. We’ll still have pig roasts on Sundays, but now I’ll be able to give you the name, address and phone number of the dude who raised and killed it for me.”

In fact, the Melehes/Rezin team is poised to transform the Q into a gastropub with a seasonal menu using local ingredients. They are excited to source greens from the Aspens Market greenhouse, chicken from Driggs, beef from Carter Country, and this summer some will be from Jackson Hole Hereford. Indeed, with spring menu dishes like the lamb carbonara with English peas, lamb bacon, pecorino cheese and house made pappardelle, we won’t miss the barbecue.

Melehes and Rezin are also proud of the quality of their kids’ menu: “The hot dogs are made from Kobe beef, the chicken is certified organic, and the mac and cheese has real cheese. Even if it goes completely unnoticed, it means something to us. Being able to source real food for the kids is awesome.”

Despite working crazy hours in the kitchen and constantly visiting farms, Melehes finds time to volunteer, too. “I love the opportunity to go out and talk to the people who eat my food,” he said. “It’s education and it’s sharing passion. To be able to teach is giving back in a very good way.”

Melehes credits his entire Q Roadhouse team, especially Rezin and manager Park Dunn-Morrison, for any success he’s enjoyed. Him and Rezin are tickled pink to win this award. “It’s one thing to do it because it’s important to me, but another that it’s recognized by a Readers’ Choice award. It’s a huge honor, so thank you.”

– Annie Fenn, MD

Editors’ Choice
Best Way to get Wined
Bin 22

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One recent afternoon I popped into Bin 22 to satisfy a craving for meatballs and get some work done. When Jackson local/winemaker Laely Heron of Heron Wines saw me glued to my laptop, she waltzed over and made an executive decision: “Let’s have some of my new wine.” She plucked her latest creation, a 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, from the wine shop and handed it to our server. Moments like these remind me how a love for wine can bring people together and ignite conversation, and what better place for this than the Bin?

Neil Loomis is the wine and beverage director for Fine Dining Restaurant Group. He also happens to be a trained sommelier and chief wine enthusiast at Bin 22.  He describes the 45-seat (90 in the summer with the outdoor deck) downtown spot as the synergy that happens when you put a wine bar/tapas restaurant inside a bottle shop. While guests peruse the menu of “Mediterranean-esque” small plates, they wander over to the shop. If they don’t have their own ideas on what wine to pair with a meal, all they have to do is study Bin’s wine list. Loomis’ current favorite pairings: “The octopus is a really fabulous dish that is usually paired with a white wine, but since it’s charred I’d go with a Tempranillo or Sangiovese. The gulf shrimp pairs well with a white Burgundy or our Italian Falanghina. And for the salumi plate, a light to mid-bodied red, I like a Super Tuscan.”

Bin 22 has become a mecca for local wine enthusiasts and a gathering place for all occasions. But with Roadhouse Beers on tap and many hard-to-find European and West Coast micro brews in the shop, it’s also a place where beer geeks can feel at home.

One key to Bin’s success is the staff’s enthusiasm for wine and libations in general. Every 10 days Loomis and store manager Eric Lippert change up the restaurant’s wine list and give the servers a taste of it all. If you’re deliberating, Bin servers are always happy to pour you a taste. “This is the place we can get people to be a little adventurous by making it easy to try new things,” Loomis said.

– Annie Fenn, MD

Readers’ Choice
Best Lunch Spot
Lotus Café

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Amy Young, the self-trained chef and owner of Lotus Café, laughs when she recalls opening Planet Palate as a vegan restaurant in 2007. “That year was so tough it knocked years off my life,” she said. “The first week I watched as people walked out because all the espresso bar milks were non-dairy.” The focus went from a vegan restaurant to one that is built on organic offerings with something for everyone, including meat eaters.

Planet Palate was renamed Lotus Café and the vegan concept morphed into a menu that embraces all food preferences. Now Amy’s fresh approach to cooking with global flavors has health conscious locals standing in line for a table come lunchtime. Amy, who is committed to serving only organic products, sees food as a way to nourish herself, her community and the planet. “Lotus Café is my wellness center in the form of a restaurant,” she said.

Amy can’t say enough good things about the locals who frequent her restaurant. “They are the foundation for everything I do,” she said. With big plans to move to a new space on N. Cache Street in June (in a portion of the building that housed Ripley’s Believe It Or Not), Amy wants to fashion it into “a space that locals can call home.” To make it even easier to grab your favorite Lotus lunch (mine’s the Green Bowl), Amy will have online ordering for take-out, expanded seating, a streamlined grab and go counter, a deck and open air-seating.

“If you eat at Lotus, you can count on it being good for you.”

– Annie Fenn, MD

Editors’ Choice
Best Mobile Gourmet Bites
Bistro Catering

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Catering is an uphill battle. Companies are expected to cook five star meals for the most special events in peoples’ lives… without a kitchen. Indeed, guests’ expectations are at their highest for these momentous occasions; the filet mignon must be perfect, even when it’s being cooked in a field in the middle of Grand Teton National Park.

When asked what sets Bistro Catering apart, general manager Jenelle Johnson explained, “No two menus we do are the same. We customize them to the customers.” Being part of the Fine Dining Restaurant Group, Bistro Catering has myriad resources to pull from. They have house-made pastas, a pastry chef, a meat smoker, among other secret weapons. They also have the minds of many chefs to help create menus. If someone loves a dish at Osteria, Bistro Catering can replicate it. Better yet, if someone has a favorite dish from a restaurant they visited in France, Bistro Catering can recreate it.

It takes a special cast of characters to pull these events off—borderline masochistic personalities who thrive under pressure and yearn for curveballs to be thrown their way. Jenelle remembered just one of many occasions where the crew was put to the test during a wedding at the Elk Refuge. When a thunderstorm hit unexpectedly, the tent flaps came undone under the stress of the severe winds. One flap was blown inside the tent and struck the table that held the wedding cake. Jenelle saw the table going down from across the room and sprinted toward it, diving over a couch. She saved the cake just before it hit the ground. The extent of the damage was a little smudged icing. Then servers sprang into action, clasping umbrellas to bring food from the prep tent, all the while afraid they’d be struck by lightning. Epic moments like these happen more often than one would think when setting up a mobile gourmet kitchen in the mountains.

– Park Dunn-Morrison

Editors’ Choice
Best Counter Customer Service
Local Butcher

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I challenge you to walk into Local Butcher when general manager Sean Walsh is behind the counter and not take home a bag full of food. On a recent winter afternoon, Walsh reached over the deli case to pass me a crostini smeared with foie gras pureed with figs. Then he bounced to the other side of the shop to pour a sample of spicy pork posole. “We assume everyone is a food fanatic,” he said. “Lots of visitors stop by, but it’s the locals we have to satisfy. We won’t serve anything we’re not really proud of.”

Local Butcher is the little butcher shop on Deloney owned by chefs Will Bradof and Paul Wireman, owners of Trio An American Bistro and Local Restaurant and Bar. Mike Christie, executive chef at Local and Local Butcher, keeps the freezer packed with house made convenience foods—Lockhart beef manicotti, Shepherd’s pie, marinara sauce and veal stock. The deli case is overflowing with unique goodies—Scotch eggs, duck confit, elk sausage pigs in a blanket, smoked chickens, and crusty Parmesan twice-baked potatoes. I went home with a frozen tub of Trio’s famous BLT soup, a pound of huckleberry breakfast sausage, and a prosciutto-stuffed pork roast. “It’s a no-brainer,” Sean said when I asked him what I should take home for supper. “The pork roast is a good value for center cut pork. Cut up some apples, splash it with apple juice, and bake it in the oven for 35 minutes. That’s what I’d do.”

A newcomer to the town food scene, Local Butcher opened in December with secret weapon Sean behind the counter. Sean landed in Jackson in 1995 and worked his way up from the grill cook at the Mural Room at Jackson Lake Lodge to sous chef at Calico and the Granary. For the next five years he worked in the kitchen at the Snake River Grill. That’s where he met his wife “and learned how to uphold really high standards from [former SRG owner] August Spier.”

Sean says he knows two things very well: Food and people. As a trained chef, he is the perfect person to help you decide what to make for dinner. And the people part–that comes easy. “I’m genuine,” he said. “I don’t make shit up. People trust me.”

– Annie Fenn, MD

Editors’ Choice
Best Foodie Indulgence
Sub Rosa

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Not long after Chef René Stein took over The Rose kitchen last summer, he became known for his new mountain cuisine: local and foraged ingredients, infused with flavors from his German heritage, transformed with both old and new French cooking techniques. Everything plated beautifully on handmade dishes and wooden vessels that evoke the outdoors.

Sub Rosa was conceived when René moved some shelves in The Rose kitchen and pulled a bar stool up to the counter. “I envisioned the diners with me in the kitchen,” he said. “I wanted to take down the wall between the kitchen and the restaurant, so the chef and the diners experience the meal together.”

Now every Wednesday, two seatings of six diners fill The Rose kitchen for Sub Rosa: a multi-course tasting menu that engages all of the senses. As René prepares each dish, there’s intrigue and delight at using ingredients in unexpected ways: Cauliflower sorbet?  Stout chocolate chips? Watching René work is like peeking into the studio of an artist in the throes of creation. As he hands each dish across the counter, the beauty of the food is striking. The pairing with The Rose’s craft cocktails and service director Ryan McReynolds’ handpicked wines takes the experience over the top.

Walking out of Sub Rosa after a two-hour tasting is like emerging from a magical spell of art, flavor, intrigue, and the satisfaction that comes from being totally taken care of.

For René, cooking for people who love food is the best part of Sub Rosa. He likens the creative process to “writing a song, then playing it in front of people. For me, Sub Rosa is like a live concert every night.”

Annie Fenn, MD

Editors’ Choice
Best Place to Get Schooled on Crudo
The Kitchen

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Crudo [kru:do]: Spanish and Italian for raw, a dish of thinly sliced fish or meat drizzled with oil, acid and seasonings.

Chef Santiago Kano of The Kitchen is taking crudo in a mountain town to a whole new level. Partnering with Captain Jacques Pillon, the Hawaiian fishmonger of Oceans To You, Santiago gets his hands on the freshest, most sustainable line caught and spear fished catches available.

The fourth person in his Japanese-Irish family to graduate from the Culinary Institute of America, Santiago’s love for fish was sparked at an early age. Growing up in Mexico City and spending many a hiatus on the sea, he remembers cutting fish from the age of four. His family owns two sushi restaurants and a commercial fishing boat off the coast of Baja California.

The Kitchen has always been known for its crudo, but now Santiago is able to unleash his international culinary background on Pillon’s pristine fish. He describes his style of cooking as travel based, invoking the experience of two or three countries in each dish.

“Everything I do is something you couldn’t make at home,” he said. But he’s careful not to meld too many flavors. “Simple and honest, that’s my style,” Santiago said. “With crudo, it’s better not to use more than two ingredients besides the fish. One of my mentors once said, ‘The better you can cook with less ingredients, the better chef you are.’”

A few of Santiago’s recent crudo creations: Hamachi crudo—roasted organic golden beets, smoked paprika oil. Diver scallop crudo—wild leek puree, shiso, mizu. And diners always delight in the Daily Crudo special, a memorable taste of fresh and rare catches.

An insatiable traveler, Santiago “is obsessed with where I’ve been and where I’m going.” Next stop: Iceland. Look for new crudo creations influenced by Nordic cuisine coming soon to The Kitchen.

– Annie Fenn, MD

Sports-mainheader

SportsArts&Ent_header

Best Cover Band
Gold: Miller Sisters
Silver: Mandatory Air
Silver: Sneaky Pete & The Secret Weapons
Bronze: 86

Best Band Playing Original Songs
Gold: Sneaky Pete & The Secret Weapons
Silver: One Ton Pig
Bronze: Canyon Kids

Best Musician
Gold: Jason Fritts
Silver: Zach Singer
Bronze: Peter Chandler

Best Classical Musician
Gold: Byron Tomingas
Silver: Jason Fritts
Bronze: Pam Phillips

Best Teton Valley Musician
Gold: Miller Sisters
Silver: Ben Winship
Bronze: Brian Maw

Best Church Choir
Gold: St. John’s Episcopal Church
Silver: Our Lady of the Mountains
Bronze: Presbyterian Church

Best Club DJ
Gold: DJ VerT-OnE
Silver: DJ Londo
Bronze: DJ Therapy

Best Live Entertainment Venue
Gold: Pink Garter Theatre
Silver: Snow King – JacksonHoleLive
Bronze: Center for the Arts

Best Outdoor Concert Series
Gold: JacksonHoleLive
Silver: Music on Main
Bronze: Contour Festival

Best Local Sports Team
Gold: Jackson Hole Moose Hockey
Silver: Jackson Hole Broncs
Bronze: Jackson Hole Juggernauts

Best Shake-a-Day
Gold: The Bird
Silver: Town Square Tavern
Bronze: Eleanor’s

Best Western Art Gallery
Gold: Trailside Gallery
Silver: Mountain Trails Gallery
Bronze: Legacy Gallery

Best Contemporary Art Gallery
Gold: Tayloe Piggott Gallery
Silver: Altamira Fine Art
Bronze: Heather James Fine Art

Best Local Artist
Gold: Amy Ringholz
Silver: Nicole Gaitan
Bronze: Kathryn Mapes Turner

Best Photographer
Gold: Thomas Mangelsen
Silver: Jimmy Chin
Bronze: Ashley Merritt

Best Illustrator
Gold: Tim Tomkinson
Silver: Kelly Halpin
Bronze: Nate Bennett

Best Actor/Actress
Gold: Brian Lenz
Silver: Andrew Munz
Bronze: Frankie McCarthy

Best Dancer
Gold: Sarah Konrad
Silver: Jason Sutton
Bronze: Luke Zender

Best Place to Get Your Groove On
Gold: Pink Garter Theatre/The Rose
Silver: Stagecoach
Bronze: Silver Dollar Bar

Best Place to Pick up a Honey
Gold: The Rose
Silver: Cowboy Bar
Bronze: Town Square Tavern

Best Theater Production Company
Gold: Off Square
Silver: Riot Act
Bronze: Laff Staff

Best Filmmaker
Gold: Darrell Miller
Silver: Jimmy Chin
Bronze: Teton Gravity Research

Best Local Film
Gold: Far From Home
Silver: Cliffhanger – Darrell Miller
Bronze: Art of Flight

Best Ski Run
Gold: Hobacks
Silver: Casper Bowl
Bronze: Crags

Best Liftee
Gold: Nelson Nolen
Silver: John Newman
Bronze: Will Freihoffer

Best Golf Course
Gold: JH Golf & Tennis
Silver: Teton Pines
Bronze: Snake River Sporting Club

Readers’ Choice
Best Musician
Jason Fritts

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If it has a reed, Jason Fritts can make it talk or sing. Whether the gone cat is squealing on the licorice stick (clarinet) or wailin’ with the plumbing (saxophone), Jason makes the scene like a boss.

As a music director at the Jazz Foundation of Jackson Hole and the Community School, Jason has passed on everything short of his embouchure to countless others eager to jam and swing. He studied music at Northwestern University, New England Conservatory, and University of Texas at Arlington. While many of his childhood musician friends in Crowley, Texas, were probably more inclined to pick up the pedal steel or fiddle, Jason gravitated toward sax, clarinet, flute, oboe, and bassoon—he can play ‘em all.

In an age that elevates record spinner to musician, it’s nice to see players like Jason get their props. Without his work bringing sheet music to life, today’s DJ gods would have nothing to sample. (See: sax in “GDFR,” clarinet in “Logical Song,” flute in “Down Under,” oboe/bassoon in “I Got You Babe.”)

Blow daddy-o, there’s gold in that horn-o-plenty.

– Jake Nichols

Readers’ Choice
Best Filmmaker
Darrell Miller

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After four decades on the planet and 17 years of filmmaking, Darrell Miller’s love for Jackson still shines through. Miller combined his efforts as Storm Show Studios with Ryan Halverson’s Full Room Productions in 2011 to inject new life into his projects. The two are producing homegrown ski films featuring local riders ripping it in the Tetons and beyond. Unlike many movie crews who close areas and let the world know when they are filming, Darrell (if you can actually spot him) may be found on his island of powder stashes with cameras as small as coffee cups. This low impact lurking may go unnoticed by skiers nearby, but when autumn comes along and the films are unleashed, the town speaks; people arrive in droves for D. Mill debuts. Beneath every action packed second of these films is the knowledge that these powder feats were all earned. The crew sweats their own boot pack and makes their own judgments without the help of guides. Darrell’s films continue to provide a certain level of realism that is often lost in modern day ski films. The countless hours spent producing these segments enhances the realism. Darrell’s awe and dedication for Jackson and its mountain athletes is evidenced in every single flick.

Elizabeth Koutrelakos

Readers’ Choice
Best Church Choir
St. John’s Episcopal Church

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What a joyful noise rises beyond the rafters to the heavens every Sunday morning on North Glenwood. The choir at St. John’s Episcopal Church mined gold last year and they’re at it again in 2016.

Pianist Pam Phillips leads the worship team. Many in the valley are familiar with her work on the ivories. The talented musician has conducted and played in numerous Broadway shows. She has also worked with the American Symphony, New York City Ballet Orchestra, and American Ballet Theater. On most Sundays at 10 a.m., Phillips can be found tickling the 88 and directing this award-winning choir.

Music assistant Hilary Camino earned her Master’s in Music Therapy in Edinburgh, Scotland.  While there, she sang in the choir at the Parish Church of St. Cuthbert, and gigged in town fronting a Motown-style band. This lady can sing, y’all.

Come for the music, stay for the sermon. This is stained-glassed, God glee goodness. Selah!

Jake Nichols

Editors’ Choice
Best ‘grammer with Class
Tristan Greszko (@tgreszko)

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In an era of social media excess, things that appear to be reality may not be reality at all. One of the larger critiques of social media begs the question: Does it come from art or ego? Humble yet talented Tristan Greszko grams beautiful images without all the hype. Cofounder of the Teton Artlab in 2007, this adventure photographer’s accomplishments include Tiny Jackson (google it), national and international publications, completion of two Teton Picnics, and climbing El Cap. In the Insta world, he keeps the class without flaunting pictures of his chiseled body glistening in the sun or posting countless selfies of himself getting after it in the mountains; most importantly, he does not believe in hashtags. When asked about this slight counterculture perspective, Tristan explains that while people need followers to be relevant, “hashtags just play into the rat race.” Photography, he said, “Suits my inherent need to search for perfection – not in the universal sense, but maybe in a tiny localized sense – within an individual image, or a moment, or a person in a moment, or just the need to continually refine and improve my skills as a photographer.” Gram subjects of @tgreszko note that he does not disrupt the lifestyle while taking photographs. If anything, Tristan adds to the lifestyle with his mad skill, good attitude and great snacks. This incognito presence seems to be a rarity in the world of instantaneous self-aggrandizing, but that’s what makes this guy pretty darn classy.

Elizabeth Koutrelakos

Readers’ Choice
Best Illustrator
Nate Bennett

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A picture is worth a thousand words, right? A statement like that doesn’t sit well with journalists, reporters and other professional writers who make their living with a keyboard. But deep down we all have to admit a skilled illustrator can sometimes nail the emotion, the mood, and the core of a story it might take a writer thousands of words to convey.

Nate Bennett’s cover illustration for the May 27, 2015 issue of The Planet was an instant classic. The 35-year-old’s colorful take on Jackson’s housing crunch, reduced to a “tent city” outside the pearly gates of the rich and shameless, captured every nuance of Julie Kling’s feature piece. When Vail Resorts was accused of strong-arming journalists and getting one fired at Summit Daily News over alleged inflated snow totals, it was Bennett to the rescue. His one-panel in 2009 depicting resort owners as mob thugs was priceless.

It’s often cartoons like “Family Guy” and cartoonists like Nate who can get away with pushing the envelope harder with irreverence. Maybe they’re perceived as less threatening. But they certainly don’t lack punch.

Take for example Nate’s pièce de résistance, paid for by the growth-resistance group Don’t Let the Hole Lose Its Soul. At the height of Jackson’s out-of-control buildup, Nate’s devastating condemnation of the responsible politicians ran in local newspapers for weeks in 2008. The image captures every emotion the community was experiencing—humor, outrage, melancholy—as we watched our town grow larger by the day.

In this year’s Best Of issue, Nate’s work can be found gracing the cover and coloring the pages inside.

– Jake Nichols

Readers’ Choice
Best Actor
Frankie McCarthy

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On and off the stage, Frankie McCarthy’s presence is magnetic. When he’s not exploring the world (next stop a European adventure that begins in Romania and ends, somewhere?), he can often be found lighting up the stage at the Center for the Arts.

Living in the valley just three years, Frankie has managed to act in a myriad of shows in Jackson Hole. He has played characters across the emotional spectrum, from the comical Thisbe in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to the dark and emotionally complex Daniel in Chekov’s “The Cherry Orchard.”

Frankie participates in the local performing arts scene not just because he’s a good actor, but because he believes in the ability of the arts to enrich lives. “I’d love for locally-sourced art to become as popular as locally-sourced food,” Frankie said. The ‘local’ movement is so important to a community, and supporting the arts should be just like that.”

Currently, Frankie is auditioning for this summer’s Thin Air Shakespeare play: “The Taming of the Shrew.” In an instant, he had me envisioning picnic baskets on the Center’s lawn, laughing into my jacket as the cast reinterprets one of my favorite Shakespeare plays.

Frankie is a life-zealot that breathes animation into every moment. He takes full advantage of Jackson all yearlong: from skiing powder in the winter to summers spent backpacking in the Tetons. The voracious thespian embraces the world much the way he embraces the stage.

Natosha Hoduski

Editors’ Choice
Best Way to Play Dirty
Ultimate Towner

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In 2014 a challenge complete with 25 obstacles over four miles became Jackson Hole’s newest physical boundary-pushing tradition. The Ultimate Towner involves crawling through mud, heaving rocks, swinging over open water and walking the plank. My heart is racing and my stomach aflutter just thinking of it. The tallest wall to summit, the Love Life Wall, looks like something you’d need to pole vault over with no poles in sight. I was the kid who lied to get out of P.E. class. I was picked last in kickball. The thought of failing in front of a crowd has me all tied up in knots. But Tim Walther, president of Grand Dynamics and event sponsor believes “our character is forged in adversity.  When we move through difficulty, we have plenty of reason to celebrate.”

Certainly the huge smiles on the faces of participants is evidence enough of the celebration. They are dirty, drenched, scrambling, falling, and laughing the whole time. They are helping each other with hands held out, arms lifted up, and voices raised high. They are young. They are less young. They are all shapes and sizes. There are some serious competitors (this is Jackson Hole), but the “Fun Class” is all about “get ‘er done” and that sounds just about my speed.

– Gloria Courser

Editors’ Choice
Best Actress
Kjera Strom Henrie

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The readers’ choice category for Best Actor/Actress is usually an annual sausage fest. So I think it’s about time one of Jackson’s hardworking and talented actresses enjoy the spotlight.

Kjera Strom Henrie’s dedication and prowess never ceases to amaze me. I have shared the stage with Henrie for many years during my tenure with the Laff Staff and in last year’s “I 2 Can Ski Forever.” She is steadfastly humble—a quality we actors sometimes lack—and has insisted on multiple occasions that she doesn’t consider herself an actress.

Those of us who have had the pleasure of seeing Kjera perform, however, can agree that her effortless confidence is always on full display. She commands our attention with every scene she’s in, and possesses a certain cheerful resilience that keeps the Laff Staff fresh, but also consistent. Paired with this year’s Best Actor (gold) in the readers’ choice poll, Brian Lenz, Kjera is improv royalty, showcasing that comedy isn’t just about witty jokes and accents, but also respecting the team and heightening the audience experience.

On stage she has schooled me in rap battles, murdered me, married me, hijacked me, all while embodying a level of fearlessness that only the best improvisers wield. Improv can be demanding, but I’ve never witnessed an instant where Kjera has given less than her entire heart.

Andrew Munz

Editors’ Choice
Best Moose Player to Knock Your Teeth Out
Luke Smith, No. 13

9Editor's_Best_Moose_Player_to_Knock_Your_Teeth_Out

Gone are the gory glory days of hockey, both in the NHL and locally. Today’s game celebrates the speedy, nimble skater. Alas, old school fans, hulking enforcers are no longer en vogue.

But a few throwbacks remain. The game still demands at least one player on the roster who can come off the bench and make the opponent answer for a dirty hit or a cheap shot. In days past, that Moose player was Dustin Stolp or Jeff Zelazoski. “Stolpi” and “Zels” were more proactive in their protection of teammates. They didn’t wait for you to make a faux pas; they just assumed you would sooner or later so they often initiated your deserved beat down.

These days, it’s Luke Smith who’s most likely to get under your skin when you play the Moose. At 6 feet 2 inches, 205 pounds, Luke plays with an edge. He’s nasty, he comes to the aid of his teammates, and he’ll “throw hands” at the slightest invitation. Now we’re not saying No. 13 spends an inordinate amount of time in the home team penalty box at the Snow King Sports and Event Center. But UPS uses it as his alternate address when out for weekend delivery.

Jake Nichols

Editors’ Choice
Best Place to Spot a Celebrity
Rendezvous Bistro

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Everyone loves Rendezvous Bistro for the ambience, the energy, the food and the outstanding service. But there’s something else about the Bistro’s allure that is so subtle, many don’t pick up on it.

“You never know who you will meet at Rendezvous Bistro,” agreed manager Ben Shanks when he was quizzed about the restaurant’s legacy for attracting high profile diners.

“We collect our fair share of celebrities passing through,” Ben admitted, “and there are certainly a lot of aliases and particular requests on the reservation books.” Ever a classy bunch, Ben and other Fine Dining staffers declined revealing notable names, but we’re sure you’ve heard a few stories.

Why do so many celebrities feel comfortable dining at the Bistro? “I think it stems from [Fine Dining restauranteur] Gavin Fine’s ethos: ‘The restaurant is an extension of our home,’” Ben said. “We want people to be comfortable. Celebrities know that they can be hidden if they want.”

That means a high ranking U.S. official may prefer being tucked away at a corner booth while his secret service staff fans out over the restaurant. And a well-known comic actor may choose a table in the center of everything.

When it comes right down to it, the Bistro happens to be a place you’ll probably see someone you know, whether it’s a face you’ve only seen in the movies or a friend you haven’t seen in months.

– Annie Fenn, MD

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