Hundreds of the Washington, DC metropolitan area's top restaurateurs, chefs and key restaurant industry players gathered tonight as the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) announced the nominees for its annual RAMMY Awards. This evening's Nomination Party, hosted at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC, is a highly anticipated yearly event, second only to the Restaurant Awards Gala, The RAMMYS, to be held on June 24, 2012 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.
"These extraordinarily talented chefs, restaurateurs and food service industry professionals have made an impact on the Washington, DC metro area's food scene helping to create the thriving, buzz-worthy dining destination that exists today," said Lynne Breaux, President of RAMW. "This year's theme - 'Hats Off to Restaurants' - honors all of the hard working front and back of the house hospitalians in our region and we are looking forward to tipping our hats to them at The RAMMY Gala in June."
[Hot 99.5 FM's Sarah Fraser and Samy K emceed]
The RAMMY Awards features a new category this year honoring the city's best Casual Dining restaurants joining other coveted titles such as "Chef of the Year," "Best New Restaurant" and "Mixology/Beverage Program of the Year." Selecting the RAMMY nominees, and ultimately the winners, involves two separate panels of judges, the voting public and, for just one award - the Joan Hisaoka Associate Member of the Year - the RAMW Executive Committee. Any RAMW member is eligible for nomination as long as they meet the qualifications of any given category. The nominees are then reviewed by the appropriate anonymous panel of judges comprised of food/restaurant writers, educators and HR professionals who ultimately select the five finalists in each of the categories announced tonight.
The public will decide the winners in three categories: Neighborhood Gathering Place, Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene and Power Spot of the Year. The winners in these categories are determined entirely by the public vote tallies. Votes can be cast on the Washington City Paper and finalists' websites or at ramw.org from April 12-29.
2012 RAMMY Finalists:
Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year The nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a high standard of excellence in food, service and atmosphere and shows dedication to sophisticated culinary techniques. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of two years by December 1, 2011.
The Ashby Inn & Restaurant
The Oval Room
Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year The nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a high standard of dining excellence. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of two years by December 1, 2011.
Birch & Barley
BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant
Casual Restaurant of the Year The nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a dedication to dining excellence, service and value in a casual environment. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of two years by December 1, 2011.
Hank's Oyster Bar and Lounge - DC
Mitsitam Native Foods Café
Neighborhood Gathering Place of the Year This nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a high standard of quality and congeniality rooted in its neighborhood.
Bistrot Du Coin
New Restaurant of the Year A restaurant that must have been opened between December 1, 2010 and November 30, 2011 and already distinguishes itself as a pacesetter in food, beverage and service.
Elisir Restaurant by Enzo Fargione
Hill Country Barbecue Market
Pearl Dive Oyster Palace
Chef of the Year 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.
Anthony Chittum - Vermilion
Tony Conte - The Oval Room
Haidar Karoum - Proof
Kaz Okochi - Kaz Sushi Bistro
Vikram Sunderam - Rasika
Rising Culinary Star of the Year 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.
Justin Bittner - Bar Pilar
Logan Cox - Ripple
Claudio Pirollo - Et Voila!
Adam Sobel - Bourbon Steak
Ed Witt - 701 Restaurant
Pastry Chef of the Year 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.
Cicely Austin - The Oval Room
Fabrice Bendano - Adour
Peter Brett - Blue Duck Tavern
Alison Reed - Ripple
Susan Wallace - BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant
Wine Program of the Year 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, 2011.
Cork Wine Bar
Beverage/Mixology Program of the Year 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, 2011.
Neighborhood Restaurant Group
Power Spot of the Year 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."
Founding Farmers - DC
The Oval Room
The Source by Wolfgang Puck
Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene of the Year 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.
Hill Country Barbecue Market
Mad Fox Brewing Company
Manager of the Year 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.
Anna-Marie Ashe - Smith Commons
Daniel Bortnick - Firefly
Reagan Corbett - Jackson 20 Alex Munoz - Hill Country Barbecue Market
Javier Velazquez - Taberna del Alabardero
Employee of the Year 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, 2011.
Julie Albert - Brasserie Beck/Marcel's
Ting Forester - District Commons
Teo Leiva - Fiola
José Alex Medrano - B. Smith's
Paris Twyman - Founding Farmers - DC
Restaurateur of the Year
José Andrés & Rob Wilder - THINKFoodGROUP
Meshelle & Cathal Armstrong - EatGoodFood Group
Michael Babin - Neighborhood Restaurant Group
Ashok Bajaj - Knightsbridge Restaurant Group
Jeff & Barbara Black - Black Restaurant Group
Associate Member of the Year The RAMW Joan Hisaoka Associate Member of the Year Award is given annually to an associate member who best exemplifies commitment to and support of RAMW.
SYSCO Food Services of Baltimore
Marriott Wardman Park Hotel