The next decade of Red Hot Best, MyNorth’s annual celebration of all things Northern Michigan, has arrived! Hear from past winners and learn how to vote for the 2022 Red Hot Best awards.

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In 2011, Traverse Magazine launched its first annual reader-voted Red Hot Best awards, recognizing people, places and products of the North. More than a million votes later, and as we turn to the next decade, we’re enjoying this opportunity to chat with a few winners, asking what it takes to run a Red Hot Best business, and for moments of pride over these last 10 years. Find instructions below on how to vote in this year’s competition and watch for the 2022 winners in the June issue.

Make Your Nominations for the 2022 Red Hot Best Awards

Visit to submit your votes for local people, places and businesses through March 14 at 11:59 p.m. This year’s nomination period was from January 31 to February 21 and final voting from February 28 to March 14.

9 Red Hot Best Wins // Grandpa Shorter’s

301 E. Lake St., Petoskey | Grandpa Shorter’s Website

Jennifer Shorter, Third-Generation Proprietor of Grandpa Shorter’s

You celebrated a major anniversary in 2021—75 years!
“My grandparents started this business in 1946, in this same spot, and my parents, William and Marietta Shorter, took it over in 1983. I remember walking to the store after school and being so proud that my mom trusted me to take out the trash and vacuum. I made $2 an hour and was thrilled! Then I learned how to mark products and sell on the floor. I was hooked. Now, I am teaching my daughter the retail trade and hope that someday she’ll want to take over—we are truly a small family business.”

What goes into running a Red Hot Best business?
“Lots of love, sweat and tears! There have been a lot of tears the last couple of years, but that’s across the board. Actually, it’s a combination of awesome employees, guests who love us and making sure we keep a nod to the past while looking toward the future. I think the big thing is to remain flexible in all things, but stand firm in our commitment to give excellent experiences and customer service to every guest.”

8 Red Hot Best Wins // Cafe Santé

1 Water St., Boyne City | Cafe Santé Website

This European-style bistro has won several Red Hot Best awards over the last 10 years, including Best New Restaurant in 2011—the first year of the competition and the restaurant’s one-year anniversary. Most recently, Cafe Santé was voted as Best Place to Get Global Food in the Charlevoix & Chain of Lakes Region in 2021. We caught up with General Manager/Chef Kyle Marshall, who has worked for the restaurant group Magnum Hospitality for more than 20 years.

What to order:
“We continue to keep our ‘holy grail’ menu items available daily—duck French onion soup, pappardelle Bolognese, boeuf bourguignon and whitefish meunière. We serve an amazing breakfast daily including our house-made bacon on our eggs Benedict and our addictive Vienna pancakes. Dining al fresco on the open porch or patio in the summer and fall offers tremendous views of Lake Charlevoix and the sunset.”

Moment of pride:
“Magnum Hospitality [the restaurant group that includes Cafe Santé] has raised more than $209,000 over the past 14 years for our Help Everyone Eat program. It’s important to us to help out in the communities we operate our stores in, and what better way for a hospitality group to be part of the community than to feed those in need. The first Thursday of every month we donate a percentage of sales to the local food pantries in our communities.”

What goes into running a Red Hot Best business?
“I am lucky to work with the best team of dedicated professionals in Northern Michigan. It takes all of us to create the dining experience that is Cafe Santé. We love what we do, add to that a little bit of hard work, a couple of long days and good fun and I guess people notice!”

7 Red Hot Best Wins // The Accidentals

Traverse City | The Accidentals Website 

This talented trio has had a busy decade—from releasing their debut album in 2012 to signing a deal with Sony Music Masterworks label in 2017. This month, on March 1, the band is releasing “Time Out – Session 2” and beginning their national Time Out Tour the following day. The EP is co-written by The Accidentals, in collaboration with several artists who first inspired them to become songwriters. They’re planning several shows in Michigan this spring and summer and you can view the dates on their website.

Searching for more on The Accidentals? View their full interview at

The Accidentals the band

Photo by The Accidentals

36 Red Hot Best Wins //Apache Trout Grill

13671 S. W. Bay Shore Dr., Traverse City | Apache Trout Grill Website

Restaurant with a View, Outdoor Dining, Brunch Spot, Whitefish Dish—with 36 awards, Apache Trout Grill is one of the most winningest restaurants ever.

Carri Crozier, General Manager of Apache Trout Grille

Brunch update:
We are serving brunch again! We have award-winning chef Alan Thompson on our team now and he has really stepped up our brunch status. Each week we are featuring new items on the buffet.

What goes into running a Red Hot Best business?
Our staff is what keeps us moving forward against all odds. We have been extremely lucky to have such a dedicated team and family.

Northern Michigan Restaurants with a View

Photo by Angela Brown

46 Red Hot Best Wins // Black Star Farms

10844 E. Revold Rd., Suttons Bay | Black Star Farms Website

Black Star Farms has won a whopping 46 Red Hot Best awards over the last 10 years for categories ranging from Local Red Wine and Local White Wine to Romantic Hotel and Place for a Wedding. We raise our glass to their talented team!

Sherri Campbell Fenton, Managing Owner of Black Star Farms

What does it take to run a Red Hot Best Business:
“That’s a huge question, but to answer it in a nutshell, I would say it definitely is having the right team in place. It takes the right people in every position who are guest-centric and team players, whether they are behind the scenes or managing a business unit. Our team is our strongest asset.”

Black Star Farms winery in Suttons Bay.

Photo by Rachel Soulliere

1 Red Hot Best Win // Assistant Principal Ben Berger

Traverse City | TCAPS Website

We’d be remiss if we didn’t include educators in our celebration of the North. Ben Berger was the very first Red Hot Best teacher in 2011—his very first year of teaching.

Biggest lesson you’ve learned:
“The best thing that I can do for my students is to consistently show up and meet them wherever they may be. Everyone brings baggage with them when they come to school—some good, some bad. It is this baggage that makes each student who they are. It’s my job to be a consistent presence in their life. If they make a mistake, I have their back through accountability; if something great happens, I am there for them as a cheerleader. So much of this job is being present for each student.”

Teachers are heroes:
“It is an extremely selfless calling to serve your community through teaching. Each teacher gives up some of themselves to their craft and profession. This is a sacrifice to their family and personal life but they do it because their work matters to them on an extremely deep level.”

9 Red Hot Best Wins // Paul Maurer General Contracting

10167 E. Cherry Bend Rd., Traverse City | Paul Maurer Website

Ben Maurer, President & Owner of Paul Maurer General Contracting

You could build homes anywhere in the world, but you choose Northern Michigan:
“It goes without saying that Northern Michigan is a special place—all of the natural resources allow us to play where we work: boating, skiing, hiking, golfing, building bonfires. You feel a sense of peace here and I think most, if not all, of our clients choose this spot for that exact reason. Northern Michigan creates memories that money just cannot buy.”

What goes into running a Red Hot Best business?
“It starts and ends with good people. Good people, coupled with the Northern Michigan economic environment, allows us to be the best.”

Photo(s) by Rachel Haggerty