Nothing brought more good vibes to Music City and boosted our profile more positively in 2008 than a good old-fashioned showdown—the long-awaited duel between two evenly matched contenders, with a national audience hanging on every word. We refer, of course, to the Pillage in the Village, the frozen-treat face-off between the Paz sisters of Las Paletas and superstar chef Bobby Flay on his popular Food Network series Throwdown with Bobby Flay. (And let us not forget Scene food critic and Bitesmistress Carrington Fox, serving on camera as judge, jury and executioner with Slow Food Nashville's Robin Riddell.) Keep your NFL cutaways, your reality-show dogfights, your televised grip-and-grin award ceremonies. Nothing made Nashville look cooler—no pun intended—than a pair of vivacious Latina hotties making gourmet ice pops that stopped even the unflappable Flay in his tracks, while a hometown audience cheered. As our ambassador to the outside world, Irma Paz Bernstein beats some English Only knuckledragger any day. —JIM RIDLEY

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