By: Jennifer Duff
Capital Cooking Contributor
Hundreds of the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area’s top restaurateurs, chefs and key restaurant industry players gathered for the announcement of the nominees for the annual RAMMY awards by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW). The Nominations Party was hosted at The Hamilton LIVE and emceed by Kelly Collis and Tommy McFLY of 94.7 FRESH FM. Restaurants, staff and Chefs were celebrated in a number of categories ranging from Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year and New Restaurant of the Year, to Employee of the Year and Power Spot of the Year. Here’s a glimpse into some of the nominees and their signature items featured at the nomination party.
Chef of the Year
This is definitely my favorite award category, celebrating the culinary talents and artistic vision of Chefs in the DC area. Nominees must display a dedication to the artistry of food and must have been a chef for the past five years with a minimum of two years based in the Metropolitan Washington area.
The nominees for Chef of the Year include:
Tony Conte – The Oval Room
Haidar Karoum – Estadio/Proof
Tarver King – The Ashby Inn and Restaurant
Cedric Maupillier – Mintwood Place
Fabio Trabocchi – Fiola
Early in the evening, Chef Cedric Maupillier from Mintwood Place was busy cooking lightly smoked salmon served over quinoa two ways with merquén chili. Simple and clean with a focus on flavor and presentation, this snack underscored the overall approach of Chef Meupillier, who has noted "you eat first with your eyes." And to top it off, Chef was super friendly and nice enough to pose for an impromptu “In Bloom” photo.
Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene of the Year
Another fun category at the RAMMYS is Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene of the Year, highlighting bars that are innovative with a hip and eclectic crowd.
The nominees are:
Fuego Cocina y Tequileria
Hank’s Oyster Bar – Capitol Hill
Jack Rose Dining Saloon
And what goes better with a drink at a bar than a little bar bite? During the reception we noshed on Taquitos de Atun from Fuego. These mini tuna tartar tacos served with avocado salsa de arbol were tasty and fresh, but a little heavy on the avocado.
New Restaurant of the Year
The category for New Restaurant of the Year includes those notable restaurants that opened in 2012 (give or take a few months) and already distinguishes itself as a pacesetter in food, beverage and service. I personally love the opening of new restaurants as it keeps things fresh and gives diners new tastes and creations to explore.
The nominees for this category are:
Fuego Cocina y Tequileria
Rasika West End
Boqueria offered Montado de Boquerones during the reception – white anchovy over olivada picante and goat cheese. It was definitely an interesting amuse-bouche, but it was a little too fishy/sardine like for my tastes.
We also sampled one of the delicious treats from DGS Delicatessen, their pastrami knish. Light and crispy, with a salty pastrami center and a mustard sauce, this little potato ball was delicious. The potato dough was just the right amount of filling to not overwhelm the pastrami center and wonderful complimented with the mustard sauce.
Beverage/Mixology Program of the Year
This RAMMY award category recognizes restaurants that are distinguished by the quality, diversity, creativity, clarity and value of their beverage programs.
The nominees include:
Birch and Barley/Churchkey
During the reception, mixologist Duane Sylvestre, from Bourbon Steak was busy mixing up a refreshing cocktail featuring Makers 45, sour mix, lime and mint. It was wonderfully smooth and light, with the perfect balance of lime and mint for a fun spring cocktail.
Overall, it was a fun and festive evening celebrating all those nominated for a RAMMY. Best of luck to all of the nominees and we look forward to celebrating the winners at the Restaurant Awards Gala, The RAMMYS, on June 23, 2013!