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Rammy nominations announced!

RISING STAR CHEFS ... Liam LaCivita, The Liberty Tavern; Jon Mathieson – Inox, Mike Isabella Zaytinya; Nicholas Stefanelli – Bibiana; Shannon Overmiller – Majestic Café. Photo by Michael Birchenall http://bit.ly/d6XeMU

On Tuesday, March 23, 2010, restaurateurs, celebrity chefs and key restaurant industry players flocked to The Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC for a celebration as the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington announced the 2010 RAMMY Award Nominees. Hosted by emcees Nycci and David Nellis, hosts of Dishing it Out on Federal News Radio, Washington, DC’s only food and beverage centric radio show.

The nominees for the DC’s “Oscars” annual restaurant awards, aka the Rammys Winners from the following categories will be chosen by a panel of judges, and announced June 6. The following nominees are chosen by an anonymous panel judges comprised of  esteemed food/restaurant writers and critics:

Fine Dining: The nominee is a member restaurant that demonstrates an unwavering standard of dining excellence in food, service and ambiance.  The nominee must have been in business a minimum of two years by December 1, 2009. 

Fine Dining Finalists: 2941, Michel Richard Citronelle, Minibar by José Andrés, The Oval Room, The Source by Wolfgang Puck

Upscale Casual: The nominee is a member restaurant that demonstrates a commitment to dining excellence in food, service and ambiance. The dining experience may be more casual than Fine Dining, the price point lower, but the commitment to excellence is paramount. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of two years by December 1, 2009.  

Upscale Casual Finalists: Central Michel Richard, The Liberty Tavern, Proof, Vermilion, Zaytinya

New Restaurant: A restaurant that must have been opened between December 1, 2008 and November 30, 2009 and already distinguishes itself as a pacesetter in food, beverage and service.

New Restaurant Finalists: Bibiana, Birch & Barley, Bourbon Steak, Eventide, Inox

Chef: The nominee is an executive chef or chef de cuisine who demonstrates consistent standards of excellence and serves as an inspiration to other food professionals.  The nominee displays a dedication to the artistry of food, exhibits an ongoing commitment to the community and may be from any type of establishment.  The nominee must have been a chef for the past five years with a minimum of two years based in the Metropolitan Washington area.

Chef Finalists: Bertrand Chemel of 2941, Scott Drewno of The Source, Daniel Giusti of 1789, Vikram Sunderam of Rasika, Haidar Karoum of Proof

Rising Culinary Star: The nominee is an “up and coming” chef who demonstrates exemplary talent, shows leadership and promise for the future.  The nominee must have been based in the Metropolitan Washington area for a minimum of two years.

Rising Culinary Star Finalists: Michael Isabella of Zaytinya, Liam LaCivita of The Liberty Tavern, Shannon Overmiller of The Majestic, Nicholas Stefanelli of Bibiana, Jon Mathieson of Inox

Pastry Chef: The nominee is a restaurant pastry chef who prepares desserts and pastries and demonstrates a high standard of excellence and culinary artistry.  The nominee serves as an inspiration to other food professionals.  The nominee must have been a pastry chef for the past five years with a minimum of two years based in the Metropolitan Washington area.

Pastry Chef Finalists: Anthony Chavez of 2941, Amanda Cook of CityZen, Josh Short of Neighborhood Restaurant Group, Fabrice Bendano of Adour, Travis Olson of 1789

Wine Program: The member restaurant is distinguished by the quality, diversity, clarity and value of its wine program.  The nominee’s wine program best suits the cuisine and style of the restaurant while enhancing the dining experience.  The nominated restaurant must have been in operation for a minimum of two years by December 1, 2009.

Wine Program: 2941, Michel Richard Citronelle, Dino, 701/Ardeo/Bardeo/Bibiana/Bombay Club/The Oval Room/Rasika, Proof

Beverage/Mixology Program: New for 2010! The member restaurant is distinguished by the quality, diversity, creativity, clarity and value of its beverage program.  The nominee’s beverage program best suits the cuisine and style of the restaurant while enhancing the restaurant experience.  The nominated restaurant must have been in operation for a minimum of two years by December 1, 2009

Beverage/Mixology Program Finalists: Brasserie Beck, EatGoodFoodGroup (Eve, PX), Founding Farmers, PS 7’s, Tabard Inn

Manager: The nominee is a manager or general manager in the food service industry who displays the highest level of professionalism and leadership with a member business. This person must be an inspiration and mentor to all his/her co-workers displaying outstanding service, an excellent work ethic and a positive image.

Manager Finalists: Souheil Moussadik of CoCo. Sala, Ryan McCarthy of Passion Food Hospitality, Ashley Williams of Mie N Yu, Mark Politzer of Bourbon Steak, Fernando Contreras of KAZ Sushi Bistro

Employee: The nominee is a non-managerial employee of a member business who serves as a model employee by displaying outstanding service, an excellent work ethic and a positive image.  This nominee must have been working in the food service industry for a minimum of three years by December 1, 2009.

Employee: Corina August of Mie N Yu, Joe Bolam of Urbana, Adolfo Cajchon of Seasons, Marco Guzman of Café Atlantico, Jose Orantes of Dino

The public at large will have the esteemed opportunity to weigh in and choose the winners in the following category with a special ballot appearing in The Washington City Paper April 29 or online at www.ramw.org:

Neighborhood Gathering Place: This nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a high standard of quality and congeniality rooted in its neighborhood.

Neighborhood Gathering Place: Bar Pilar, Belga Café, Cork, EatBar, Kemble Park Tavern

Restaurant Power Spot: This nominee is a top choice member restaurant, a spot to “see and be seen” with the movers and shakers on the national and local political and business scene.  It best exemplifies “how Metropolitan Washington works.”

Restaurant Power Spot: Art & Soul, BLT Steak, Bombay Club, The Source, Teatro Goldoni

Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene: This nominee is a member restaurant or hotel bar that is innovative with an energetic scene (atmosphere, drink menu, etc.) with a hip and eclectic crowd and is a great people watching and meeting place.

Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene: Birch & Barley and ChurchKey, Bourbon Steak, Masa 14, Posto, POV

The 2010 RAMMY Award winners will be announced at the RAMMY gala on June 6, 2010 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC. The theme of the 2010 RAMMY Awards is “We’ll Always Have… Restaurants,” and is a play on a famous line from the 1940’s movie Casablanca. 1940’s era glamour will influence the décor and attire and infuse the evening with an air of intrigue. Tickets to the RAMMYS may be purchased by calling 202.331.5990 or by email at rammys@ramw.org.
 
A portion of the proceeds from the gala will benefit the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Association Education Foundation to fund scholarships for culinary education students, enabling them to develop and expand their career opportunities in the restaurant industry.

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

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!!

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.