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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.

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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.