Editors' Choice Awards

Four people we consider the Best of Madison

The “Madison Original” Award

Barbara Wright

Since 1996 Barbara Wright has delighted taste buds with homestyle Mediterranean cooking at the Dardanelles on Monroe Street. The restaurant, which closed in April, was loved for its cozy atmosphere, comfort-food-style menu and talented staff; Barbara was—and is—admired and respected for championing local food and dining as a founding member and former president of Madison Originals and a hardworking small businesswoman. We’ll sorely miss the place, but fortunately the person’s good heart and work will continue. Barbara’s launching cooking classes to teach us how to incorporate restaurant-style preparation techniques into home cooking with an emphasis on fresh, whole foods and easy cooking from scratch.

The “When Life Gives You Lemons” Award

Tom Carto

While we can’t compare Overture to lemonade just yet, since coming on board in 2007 its president, Tom Carto, has kept a level head and an upbeat attitude while working with the city, the banks and Overture officials to keep the lights on. As impresario he has filled the venue with box-office hits while mending once-strained relationships with local arts groups who often felt their missions and audiences were marginalized under the previous administration. If you don’t believe us, a recent economic impact study called Overture and its resident arts companies “catalysts for development and investment downtown as well as key drivers of ‘cultural vitality.’”

The “Champion of Kids & Community” Award

Johnny Winston, Jr.

As Johnny Winston, Jr., steps down from the Madison School Board after two terms as member and a year as president, it’s appropriate to note that he has already accomplished more in his forty-two years when it comes to community service to his hometown Madison than most of us, perhaps with the exception of Winston’s own family, will accomplish in a lifetime. He personifies caring community activist as founder and organizer of the annual “Streetball & Block Party,” member and past president of 100 Black Men service organization, former director of Vera Court Neighborhood Center, and city firefighter in his professional life. Winston, Jr. is a household name in the African American community and from 2004 to 2010 he made a wider name for himself as a pragmatic leader who listened and understood education issues during an era when a new superintendent was brought in and public school funding was approaching crisis. We thank him for his service to date, congratulate he and his wife Angela on their newest addition to the family, and look forward to whatever good work comes next.

The “Common Sense” Award

Zorba Paster

For more than twenty years this Madison physician has been telling citizens they need to take control of and be responsible for their own health. In addition to his regular reports on WISC–TV (a sister company to Madison Magazine), Paster hosts “On Your Health,” a nationally
syndicated call-in show on Wisconsin Public Radio, edits a million-circulation workplace newsletter called Top Health and lectures around the country on health, wellness and longevity. His message to us is simple. You can control your health: know what your doctor is doing and ask questions. Lately Paster has been working on a new PBS special on how to motivate people to make healthy choices. He’s also the author of The Longevity Code, which features his seventy-six “longevity boosters” and a foreword by none other than the Dalai Lama.

Brennan Nardi is editor of Madison Magazine.

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