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DC’s Most Notable Chefs to participate in Toyota Farm to Table Tour Thursday, July 29.

On Thursday, July 29th at FRESHFARM Market by the White House (810 Vermont Avenue NW), some of D.C.’s most talented Chefs will participate in the Toyota Farm to Table Tour which showcases the connection between farmers, chefs, farmers markets and the communities they serve. Now in its second year, the Toyota Farm to Table Tour is visiting 11 famers markets across the country this summer to showcase the bounty of local farmers and to give market shoppers the opportunity to experience Toyota’s hybrid vehicles.

At the event, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. nine of D.C.’s most notable chefs will partner with market farmers to create bite-sized complimentary treats for visitors – all featuring farm-fresh ingredients.

Nora Pouillon of Restaurant Nora with White House Kitchen Garden with Assistant Chef and Food Initiative Coordinator Sam Kass.

Nora Pouillon and White House Chef, Sam Kass

Washington D.C.’s line-up includes:
Ryan Wheeler of Restaurant Eve
Kyle Bailey of Birch & Barley
Scott Drewno of The Source, by Wolfgang Puck
Mike Isabella of Zaytinya
Olivier Perret of Ici Urban Bistro
Nora Pouillon of Restaurant Nora
David Varley of Bourbon Steak
Paul Stearman of Marcel’s
Nicholas Stefanelli of Bibiana

Interested in what the Chefs will be preparing? Chef Nora Pouillon will serve an assortment of Organic Ham Salads–Ham and Root Vegetable Salad, Ham and Parsley Terrine, Ham Mousse on Heirloom Tomatoes.  Chef Ryan Wheeler will serve a fresh White Peach Panna Cotta with a Hazelnut Tuile. Nicholas Stefanelli will serve Ricotta with Grilled Peaches and Pistachios.

“Over the past 30 years, I have been delighted and encouraged to witness the steady rise of farmers markets in D.C.”, said Nora Pouillon of Restaurant Nora, America’s First Certified Organic Restaurant.  “They bring our communities together and showcase the importance of fresh and seasonal food so that everyone may reap the pleasure and health benefits of local produce.” The White House Organic Farm website said, “Nora was also instrumental in reviving DC’s farmers’ markets and is a frequent shopper. ”

In addition to complimentary tastings, visitors who participate in the day’s activities will have the opportunity to select complimentary potted culinary herbs from the Highlander Hybrid Mobile Garden as well as enter for a chance to win a culinary trip to Santa Barbara. At the Highlander Hybrid Mobile Garden, a Mobile Garden Herb Specialist will be on hand to pot the plants for visitors and answer general questions about gardening.  All herb plants are sourced from local vendors at the market.

“Our FRESHFARM Market, by the White House, is pleased to partner with Toyota’s Farm to Table Tour and the Farmers Market Coalition to launch National Farmers Market Week,” said Bernadine Prince, co-director of FRESHFARM Markets and vice president of the Farmers Market Coalition. “We’ll have nine chefs at the White House market on July 29 to showcase the bounty of local foods from the Mid-Atlantic region at our producer-only farmers market. Farmers markets continue to be a vital source of support to local, sustainable, family-owned farms in our region and across the country.”

I will do my very best to be there at the event. I hope to see you there!

Restaurant News & Gossip. Who’s opening?

There has been a lot restaurant news lately. There are a lot of new restaurant openings and many that are coming soon. Check out the list below for the scoop. Tom Sietsema’s chat was chock full o’ tid bits. Mark your calendars, foodies. Every Thursday at 11 a.m. Tom dishes it up and answers diner’s questions.

  • McCloone's at the new National Harbor. Photo by Lisa Shapiro

    The new McCloone’s family restaurant opened yesterday at 3 p.m. at the National Harbor. The new location is the first of Tim McCloone’s out of the state of New Jersey where he owns four other restaurants, all on the water. I was there yesterday for their opening and it’s a gorgeous restaurant with spectacular views, complete with a digital counter to countdown to the daily sunset! The 6,900 square foot dining room seats 140 and the outdoor patio seats 81. Pretty impressive! Stay tuned for a full write up!

  • Panas, Photo courtesy of Jill Collins PR

    On Friday, June 25th Panas Gourmet Empanadas will open at 2029 P Street NW.  To mark the opening day owner Federico Garcia Lopez will offer one free empanada from 11 am until 1 pm. “Panas” which specializes in empanadas, is a unique abbreviation for the word. The new restaurant is a small 1,100 square-foot restaurant with just 13 seats. Serving in-restaurant, carry-out and delivery the Panas menu includes $2 empanadas ranging from meat, pork, chicken and ham.  Stay tuned for a review, coming soon!

  • Chef Spike Mendelsohn’s new restaurant “We, The Pizza” opens on July 12th right next to “Good Stuff Eatery” on the Hill. 
  • The same folks who opened Matchbox and the newly opened Ted’s Bulletin is doing it again! We can look forward to the opening up a small hot dog joint DC-3 (just 20-seats) near Eastern Market. They will serve regional American hot dogs. The name DC-3 is a nod to the owner’s brother and business partner, Mark, a pilot and airplane buff. Their next project replaces the tiny Firehouse Cafe at 423 8th St. SE and is expected to open in August.
  • Matchbox will be opening a location in Virginia (in 2012), in the Mosaic development in Falls Church. It will be in the intersection of Lee Highway and Route 50. Sarah Krouse with WBJ gave the scoop about the Mosaic development yesterday.
  • Taylor Gourmet by two young Philadelphians has created a sandwich craze in DC. Now they are opening a location in Virginia.  Taylor Gourmet will be setting up shop in the Mosaic development as well. (They currently have locations on K St, H & 12th St., and Bethesda, MD)
  • Ray’s Hell-Burger Too will open at 1713 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, the space previously scheduled for Ray’s: The Game. Michael Landrum is slowly taking over Courthouse.
  • We the Pizza will be opening July 12th
  • Amanda McClements of Metrocurean shared with us that the less formal sister of Hook, Tacklebox is opening up a new location in Cleveland Park.  She cited that Tom Sietsema reported that an old McDonald’s restaurant that has sat vacant for years at 3407 Connecticut Ave. will be revived as a new location of Georgetown’s popular seafood spot Tackle Box. The end of the year is the target opening.
  • Photo Courtesy of Metrocurean

  • The latest project from restaurateurs Meshelle and Cathal Armstrong and mixologist Todd Thrasher is causing some buzz on the street. Apparently, work is underway on the new Virtue Feed & Grain. The Armstrong’s are also behind Old Town’s best restaurants, Restaurant Eve, The Majestic, PX and a Dublin style chipper – Eamonn’s. Bartzen &+Ball and Bonitt Builders promise a new “American-bred ‘gastro pub’-style restaurant with top notch food and drink.” The new project will be located in a historic feed building located at 106 South Union St. on Old Town’s waterfront. Their website is super cool with early architectural drawings, floor plans, and information about what to expect.
  • Italian Shirt Laundry & Italian Cinema a pizzeria and bakery, in the old dry cleaner space at 1601 14th St. NW and Italian Cinema at 1404 14th St. NW is being opened in Logan Circle from the creators of the British-flavored Againn will open Italian Shirt Laundry, The Whisk Group is partnering with Abdo Development on the new spots.
  • In addition, Againn is opening the Againn Tavern in Rockville at 12256 Rockville Pike, slated to open June 29, 2010. The new 8,100-square-foot space will highlight simple, approachable dishes with a British Isle twist executed with the same contemporary approach which made AGAINN in downtown Washington, DC so popular. The 215-seat space is conveniently located at 12256 Rockville Pike within the 60,000-square-foot Towne Plaza shopping center.
  • Photo Courtesy of ARL Now

    Buzz Bakery is coming to Ballston along with Rustico. The signs are up for Buzz Bakery and residents are starting to get excited. The menu will be similar to the Alexandria location, with a large wood-fired oven on premises for pizza and other hearty foods. Chef Steve Mannino will introduce a few new items, including some Mediterranean-influenced dishes created with the wood-fired oven in mind. The new Buzz will be a high class WiFi hangout that attracts coffee-drinking and pastry-eating crowds in the morning, business and 9-to-5ers for a typical lunch-time crowd in the afternoon, and wine and cocktail-sipping crowds at night. Buzz and Rustico will inhabit two separate storefronts on the 4000 block of Wilson Boulevard, in the Liberty Center development. The storefronts will be divided by a small courtyard that features a rhythmic water fountain. Each restaurant will have abundant outdoor seating. Rustico is slated to open in August. Buzz Bakery will open at an unspecified time later this year.

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.