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Best of Washington Party 2009 to benefit Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

The evening of July 13, 2009 more than 1,500 foodies, celebrities, restaurateurs, and Leukemia & Lymphoma Society supporters filled the National Building Museum to sample, sip, and socialize for Washingtonian’s annual ‘Best of Washington’ Party.

For the past 30 years, Washingtonian has invited their loyal readers to vote for their favorites in various categories, such as best people, places, and services in the area. The July Issue features “The Best Of …”of which readers were given the opportunity to vote for their favorites – from popsicles, pizza parlors, pot stickers, and cocktails. Of course, the Washingtonian editors didn’t allow us layfolk to decide what’s best (wink); they to weigh in with their own picks of what and whom they feel is the best in Washington. Next to the January 100’s Very Best Restaurant issue and June’s Cheap Eats, the July Reader’s Favorite is one of the most anticipated issues of the year. Copies of the magzine were displayed for reference of for the taking at the event.

For this event, Verizon Wireless and Washingtonian invited the reader favorite ‘winners’ to set up booths and serve up the best that they have to offer to partygoers. This sold-out event featured more than 50 of the metro area’s best restaurants and celebrated chefs, including Michel Richard of Citronelle, Cedric Maupiller of Central Michel Richard, RJ Cooper of Vidalia, Travis Timberlake of Art and Soul, Tony Conte of the Oval Room, Morou Ouattara of his latest venture, Kora, and Dani Arana of Taberna del Alabardero.

Power Spot of the Year Rammy winner, Central Michel Richard offered delicious mini Corned Beef Sandwichs which are offered on their lunch menu. BLT Steak offered an exquisite Tuna Tartare served on a single serving spoon – it was artistic yet functional (see photo on left). Georgetown cupcake offered a sea of tempting cupcakes in a variety of flavors, such as red velvet cake and chocolate coconut (see photo below).

Georgetown Cupcakes

In addition to the great food and cocktails, the event is also for a great cause. All funds from the silent auction and a portion of ticket proceeds will go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to fight blood cancers. 

Guests of the evening included, Buzz Bakery’s Executive Chef, Josh Short, Kelly Collis Fredrick of CityShopGirl.com, Mike Ponticelli of Bisnow, and Market Director of Public Relations for JW Marriott, Mark Indre. Other public relations representatives included Jill Collins, Heather Freeman, Wendy Gordon, and Amy Bridges of Clyde’s Restaurants.

Washingtonian staff spotted amongst the crowd included Editors Jack Limpert, Ann Limpert, and Todd Kliman. Did anyone get a picture of Todd? Just kidding …

For additional information please visit: http://www.washingtonian.com/sections/bestof

Dining in DC with Central Michel Richard’s Chef de Cuisine, Cedric Maupillier – A Profile

Chef de Cuisine, Cedric Maupillier

When Central Michel Richard’s Chef de Cuisine, Cedric Maupillier isn’t in this Powerspot’s kitchen cooking for others, he likes to spend his free time shopping for the best ingredients possible around and cooking with his close friends. (Central Michel Richard’s most recent award includes the 2009 Rammy for Power Spot of the Year). On his day off last Sunday, which was his first Sunday off in one year, he cooked for his friends. At his table was Petrossian Alverta President Caviar with blinis, Grilled Calamari ceviche, prime, dry age rib eye steak with parsley, shallots, garlic, olive oil. He didn’t mention salt, but I’m sure that it’s in there. 

Chef Cedric was gracious enough to tell us where and what he eats while dining in DC. 

For the FULL Article … Click here ….

Central Michel Richard Reader Favs

Carpaccio at Central

Carpaccio at Central

So I have dined at Central Michel Richard for both lunch and dinner within the last month – and both were Phenomenal meals!
As you know, I interviewed Chef de Cuisine, Cedric Maupillier as part of the Rising Culinary Star series, but I did not publish all of my interview … I’ve been hoarding some tender nuggets of sweet info. Ok, well I’m working on a new feature on Cedric, my favorite DC Chef.
Tell me … What are YOUR favorite Central dishes?

(please leave a comment below!) Thx!

This is YOUR chance to be included in my feature on Examiner.com!!

Rammy’s Winners — drumroll please …

Chef Tony Chittum accepts the Rising Culinary Star Rammy Award

Chef Tony Chittum accepts the Rising Culinary Star Rammy Award

Last Night, Sunday, June 7, 2009 the 27th Annual Rammy’s Awards Gala was hosted by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.  From the looks of the crowd of over 1,400 restaurant industry guests at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Woodley Park, I’d say that DC is in fact doing fine, just fine. Some attribute the success to the local economy to the fact that we are the nation’s capital – where government work is a sure thing. This showing of DC restaurant industry staff was a pretty good indication that the DC Restaurant scene is very much alive and well. The National Restaurant Association has reported that the DC restaurant industry is growing. Other cities are stumped and are looking to discover what DC is doing so well – this night is a tribute to what DC does so well.

The Rammy’s Awards are an effort to honor restaurateurs, chefs, and food service industry employees for their hard work and dedication to the industry that we love. This year’s “theme” was “Celebrate! Restaurants”  in recognition of how many people dine out in order to celebrate so many of life’s celebrations, including birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, promotions, and even the occasional celebration of friendship on any given weeknight.

Mistress of Ceremonies, Sue Palka, Meteorologist, Fox 5, said, “Restaurants are the real heart of the neighborhood and the community.” This was also a theme for other presenters such as Dr. J.C. Hayward, Anchor, WUSA 9 and Vice President of Media Outreach who spoke about the importance of the community and how the “future of the restaurant industry is in the hands of the next generation – with clear guidance and dedication of today’s culinary professionals.” Dr. Hayward presented the awards to young local aspiring culinary professionals for the RAMW Education Foundation Scholarships.

The Winner of the 2009 RAMMYs are:

  • Chef of the Year: Robert Wiedmaier – Marcel’s/Brasserie Beck/Brabo Tasting Room & the Butcher’s Block, Washington DC –
    • Chef Wiedmaier invited all of his staff on stage to help him accept the award. It was quite touching. Fun-loving Liz Glover and Stephanie Green, (“Glover and Green“) from the Washington Times presented the award. The ballroom roared with laughter as Liz Glover sang and then questioned the audience, “Oh wait, this isn’t’ American Idol?”
  • Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year: Restaurant Eve, Alexandria VA –
    • Chef Cathal Armstrong accepts the award with spunky wife Meshelle by his side, who kisses the Rammy trophy in her hands. Cathal says, “I was born in Ireland, but made in the USA”. The crowd goes wild. The other partners and staff join him on stage, including mixologist Todd Thrasher.
  • Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year Rasika, Washington DC
  • Rising Culinary Star Anthony Chittum – Vermilion, Alexandria VA
    • Tony Chittum was also nominated last year for Rising Culinary Star. Second times the charm for this well-deserving Chef. (see photo)
  • Best New Restaurant Cork, Washington DC
    • Khalid Pitts, accepted the award on stage along with his wife and co-owner, Diane Gross who refused to limit their acceptance speech and long thank-you list, despite the 30 second time limit. Even after the music started playing, similiarly to other awards shows, Pitt shouts “Oh, no … don’t turn on that music. This is my time!” He earned a laugh after saying, “This is my Cuba Gooding Jr. moment.” You could barely hear them – or anyone anyways – the ballroom was very noisey with chatter. 
  • Power Spot of the Year Central Michel Richard, Washington DC
    • The Honorable James P. Morgan, United States House of Representatives presented the award to Brian Zipin, General Manager and Wine Director at Central. He was also nominated for Restaurant Manager of the Year. Executive Chef, Cedric Maupillier who joined Zipin on stage was nominated for Rising Culinary Star.
  • Neighborhood Gathering Place The Liberty Tavern, Arlington VA
  • Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene Co Co. Sala, Washington DC
  • Pastry Chef of the Year Kate Jansen – Willow, Arlington VA
    • Presenters included our hometown Top Chef season-five finalist, Carla Hall and fellow contestant, Ariane Duarte. This year’s nomination was her third and in her acceptance speech she remarks, “Maybe 3 times a charm.” She also said, “This means more to me than you could ever possibly imagine,” and thanks Tracy O’Grady for her inspiration.
  • Associate Member of the Year Belair Produce Inc./Watermark Foods
  • Wine and Beverage Program CityZen, Washington DC
    • Wine Director Andrew Myers, who has been working in local restaurants for the last 23 years, accepted the award with his wife standing beside him as she drys her eyes. He’s a very memorable guy, as Myers was featured in the Washington Post Magazine last year that uncovered a very unique side of Myers including his love for “ink” and heavy metal. 
  • Restaurant Employee of the Year Juan Francisco Lopez – Marcel’s/Brasserie Beck, Washington DC
  • Restaurant Manager of the Year Ryland Johnson – Zola, Washington DC
  • Your Favorite Restaurant (voted by online/newspaper ballot) Teatro Goldoni, Washington, DC
  • Duke Zeibert Capital Achievement Award Dimitri Mallios
  • WHERE MAGAZINE Visitors’ Choice Award The Prime Rib
  • 2009 RAMMY Honorary Award Billy Martin’s Tavern
  • 2009 RAMMY Honorary Award Frans Hagen

 Kudos to Jill Collins and Dusty Lockhart for an amazing evening. ~ A special Thank you.

DC’s Rising Culinary Star Series

Each year the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) honors extraordinary professionals within the Washington, DC area restaurant industry at their Restaurant Awards Gala,“The RAMMYS”. Prominent restaurant employees, Chefs, and local restaurants are celebrated and recognized within thirteen award categories. In 2009, the five finalists for the “Rising Culinary Star” award are Cedric Maupillier from Central Michel Richard, Daniel Giusti from 1789, Mike Isabella from Zaytinya, Shannon Overmiller from Majestic Cafe, and Anthony Chittum from Vermilion.  As part of the “Rising Culinary Star Series”, each chef will be featured in an exclusive interview depicting their personal history, culinary experiences, and future aspirations.

Vermilion's Executive Chef, Anthony Chittum

Vermilion's Executive Chef, Anthony Chittum

Anthony Chittum, Executive Chef at Vermilion Restaurant in Old Town, Alexandria was lucky contestant number one.

Lisa Shapiro Question: What is your best or “signature dish”?

Anthony Chittum Answer:I have one per season. We change the menu each season and when that certain ingredient comes back around the following year, I’ll look at it and if I really like it we’ll put it back on the menu. We’ll tweak it a little bit.  There is a dish that we do in the winter, the roasted local rockfish that is a play on Chowder. It’s a puree with glazed celery, leek, and potato with a little smoked bacon and fried oysters as a garnish. The sauce is my “Chowder froth”. It’s definitely something that we do every year. I think it’s where it needs to be.

Q: What is your current favorite ingredient? Something that you use frequently on the current menu?

A: I’ve been playing with making my own mustard using fresh mustard seeds to create different flavors of mustards. I like mustard seeds and the heat from it much better than from pepper. Right now we have a green peppercorn, and a horseradish mustard and a basil mustard. It’s the mustard that is served with the hush puppies. We start with a basic Dijon, add maple syrup, and touch of mayonnaise.

Q: How did you get involved in the farm-to-table movement?

A: I grew up cooking in restaurants around the Annapolis area where everything is very seasonal. Some simple examples are, when Shad Roe is in season, we had it on the menu for a month and crab and corn chowder was always in the summer and we would have potato leek soup at night. When I moved to San Francisco in the late 90’s to work with Donald Link, it was just done out there. It wasn’t trendy, it’s just how it was done out there. Everyone always changed the menu. We had great local produce and we changed the menu constantly. So that was my foundation and then when I came back to DC, I worked for Todd Gray at Equinox. He was very much into seasonal food and changing the menu constantly and sourcing out the best farmers and the best products locally. In 2000, there were some restaurants doing it, but not to the extent that they are now. Now when Chefs start up their own place for the first time, it’s almost automatic and they’re changing their menus at least quarterly. People are more conscious about what they’re putting on the menu. It’s a tough competition. You have to offer the best of everything.

Q: What are your guilty pleasures?
A: I try to eat healthy, but I like pizza; but good pizza. I eat peanut butter by the spoonful. A Spoonful for me and a spoonful for the dog. I like sour patch kids. I’m not really a chocolate person. I like fruit and cheese instead of dessert.vermillion-restaurant

Q: What is your favorite dish on the current menu? (If your family came to the restaurant, what you would you insist that they try?)
A:My family came to the restaurant last week and I cooked for them. My mom doesn’t like spicy food so she had the roasted spring chicken with the faro salad with pine nuts, sugar snap peas, and currents. My Dad had the petite tenderloin & short rib “pastrami” with buttermilk blue cheese & potato galette and a little herb salad with olive oil and lemon. The pastrami is a little hot.

Q: Where do you get inspiration to create new dishes?

A: It’s a combination of a whole lot of different things; knowing the ingredients and their flavor components, and other flavor components that go with that. Everything has been done but you can tweak it to your taste. You have to go out and eat at other people’s restaurants and see what they’re doing. You can get inspiration almost anywhere. I went to Greece last summer and I got a lot of inspiration from there. When I came back from Greece, I played with some of the things that I loved when I was there. One of the dishes that we’re offering at the farm dinner coming up, such as the mixed grill with a combination of rabbit, beef, bison, from New Frontier Farms in Virginia, all different cuts. It’s a dish that I had at little restaurant on the water in Mykonos. We also did a beefsteak grilled flat bread, stuffed with feta, and a little bacon. I also loved the Loukaniko, or Greek sausage that I had in Greece. When I came back, I tried to recreate it. We put it on the menu for a little while.

Q: What are your current favorite restaurants?

A: I like Duangrat’s. I get the chef’s special pork and their black pepper calamari, it’s really good. I like going to Bastille in Old Town, it’s about a block from my house. They’re great friends and they always have something good on the menu and they have delicious desserts.

Q:You were nominated for the 2009 RAMW Rising Culinary Star Award. If not you, who will win?

 A:It’s a tough call. Cedric Maupillier works with Michel Richard, who is one of the best chefs in the country. It’s a great restaurant with a great reputation and a good following and it gets a lot of press. People know him. I assume that he will win.  But I love Zaytinya. It’s one of my favorite places to eat. The food is one of the closest things I have had since I went to Greece. Their chicken eggdrop soup with lemon is awesome. They have great food there.  I’ve also been to Majestic three or four times. It’s another great old town restaurant with great food and nice people.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

A: Like most Chefs, I’d like to own my own restaurant. It would definitely be in the DC area. I grew up in Maryland. This is where I belong. I love it here.

Stay tuned for other exclusive interviews with DC’s Rising Culinary Stars. Cedric Maupillier from Central Michel Richard and Daniel Giusti from 1789, are next. The Rammys will be held on Sunday, June 7, 2009. There will be a follow-up feature about the winner of the Rising Culinary Star award and coverage from the Rammy’s awards Gala.