Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington Announces 2012 RAMMY Award Nominees

Rising Culinary Star nominees, including Claudio Pirollo, Logan Cox, Ed Witt, Adam Sobel and Justin Bittner. Photo By Missy Frederick

Hundreds of the DC area’s top restaurateurs, chefs, media, and key restaurant industry players gathered last night as the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) announced the nominees for its annual RAMMY Awards. The 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. Even though it was chilly outside, it was warm in the ballroom at the Ritz. Spirits were high (and I don’t mean the cocktails) although some of DC’s top mixologists were there to shake and stir their stuff. (More photos to come!)

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.”

Many guests at the Nomination Party were hats, as well, keeping with the theme. Especially the spunky emcees Sarah Fraser and Samy K of Hot99.5 FM.

The RAMMY Awards will feature a new category this year honoring the city’s best Casual Dining restaurants. In 2010, the mixology category was created. I love it that RAMW is keeping up with the DC dining trends.

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.

Bourbon Steak located in the Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown, the new Hill Country Barbecue Market, restaurateurs Ashok Bajaj and Jeff Black and Logan Circle favorite Bar Pilar were among those to get multiple 2012 Rammy nominations. And apparently the best place to gather in the neighborhood is at a French bistro, according to the list of this year’s nominees. There is a pattern of restaurants that are nominated in one category, also have chefs recognized as either Best Chef or Rising Culinary Star. Ed Witt is nominated for Rising Culinary Star and 701 is nominated for Power Spot of the Year, as well as, Adam Sobel of Bourbon Steak, which received multiple Rammy nominations in several categories.

Here are the 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
  • Bourbon Steak
  • Marcel’s
  • The Oval Room
  • Rasika

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.

  • Bibiana
  • Birch & Barley
  • BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant
  • Oyamel
  • Proof

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.

  • Bar Pilar
  • C.F. Folks
  • Hank’s Oyster Bar and Lounge – DC
  • Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe
  • Room 11

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

  • Bastille
  • Bistrot Du Coin
  • Cafe Saint-Ex
  • Et Voila!
  • The Majestic

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
  • Fiola
  • Graffiato
  • 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.

  • Adour
  • Cork Wine Bar
  • Dino
  • Marcel’s
  • Plume

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.

  • Bourbon Steak
  • EatGoodFood Group
  • Estadio
  • Neighborhood Restaurant Group
  • Room 11

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.”

  • 701 Restaurant
  • Founding Farmers – DC
  • The Oval Room
  • The Source by Wolfgang Puck
  • Tosca Ristorante

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.

  • Black Jack
  • The Hamilton
  • Hill Country Barbecue Market
  • Mad Fox Brewing Company
  • Marvin

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
  • Jose Alex Medrano – B. Smith’s
  • Paris Twyman – Founding Farmers – DC

Restaurateur of the Year

  • Jose Andres & 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.

  • Adams-Burch
  • BB&T
  • EagleBank
  • SYSCO Food Services of Baltimore
  • Marriott Wardman Park Hotel

The 2012 RAMMY Award winners will be named at the 30th annual RAMMY Gala on Sunday,June 24, 2012 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. This year’s RAMMY Gala theme is “Hats Off to Restaurants!” honoring the extraordinary accomplishments of the Washington, DC regional restaurant scene over the past year. For more information about The RAMMYS go towww.ramw.org, or contact RAMW at 202.331.5990 or email at rammys@ramw.org.

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