By Guest Blogger LMB
The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington feted its own on Sunday night at the 2010 RAMMY Awards, the annual gala to celebrate and recognize excellence in the regional restaurant and food service community. The theme “we’ll always have … restaurants” (a take-off on the Casablanca line “we’ll always have Paris”) suggested dress of ‘40s glamour, and the crowd did not disappoint. From Zoot suits and white dinner jackets to pin curls and fur stoles, much of the crowd got into the fashion spirit of the times.
But the night was not about the clothes. It was about the food. And winning. This year, the RAMW changed the format for the event, again held at the Marriot Park Wardman Hotel. While last year’s affair included a four-course seated dinner during which awards were handed out, this year’s program began with cocktails and passed hors-d’oeuvres, followed by the awards themselves presented in a theater style set-up, and ended with a dinner reception replete with four buffet stations, several open bars, a dessert buffet and a dance floor with a live band. Attendees seemed to prefer the new set-up, where awards were given out quickly (each honoree was instructed to keep his or her comments to 30 seconds), and then the merriment and celebrating could begin in earnest.
FOX 5 Meteorologist Sue Palka was the Mistress of Ceremonies again this year. She rocked the ‘40s glam look and wittily kept the program on time. Scott Drewno from The Source by Wolfgang Puck won the coveted Chef of the Year award. Nicholas Stefanelli of Bibiana won the Rising Culinary Star award. Birch & Barley, which won both Best New Restaurant and Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene, was the site of the unofficial after-party. And in the new category of Beverage/Mixology Program, PS7’s took home the prize for mixologist Gina Chersevani’s skill with spirits.
After the awards were handed out, the crowd swarmed the ball room for food and drinks, and eventually for dancing. Over 1500 guests attended the event including politicians (D.C. Council Chair and Mayoral Candidate Vincent Gray was seen boogieing on the dance floor), Ambassadors, and, of course, the food world glitterati. The four food buffet stations were sponsored by Australia, Chile, Mexico and Virginia, and each of the nominated mixologists created a cocktail for the event. Guests dined on Moroccan spice rubbed lamb chops with harissa yogurt and lemon mint couscous and sous vide Australian wagyu shortrib as well as Tasmanian heritage red square cheese at the Australian table, grilled chicken pebre with a Chilean berry compote as well as a salmon, scallop, rockfish and shrimp ceviche from the Chilean station, Virginia oysters and Virginia Chesapeake Sting Ray Filet wrapped in Bacon, as well as mac & cheese with chocolate Virginia bacon, and chirlorio burritos, cream and chipotle shrimp and avocado soup courtesy of Mexico.
At midnight, when the band stopped and the lights came on, many revelers were still enjoying the evening.
Here’s the entire list of 2010 RAMMY Award Winners:
RAMMY Honorary Award
The Monocle on Capitol Hill
Joan Hisaoka Associate Member
ProChile/Wines of Chile
Duke Zeibert Capital Achievement Award
WHERE MAGAZINE Visitors’ Choice Award
The Capital Grille
Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene
Birch & Barley-Churchkey
Neighborhood Gathering Place
Cork Wine Bar
Your Favorite Restaurant (determined by an online/newspaper ballot)
Co Co. Sala
Adolfo Cajchon – Lead Food Runner, Seasons
Mark Politzer – Bourbon Steak
Rising Culinary Star
Nicholas Stefanelli – Bibiana
Best New Restaurant
Birch & Barley
Anthony Chavez – 2941
Fine Dining Restaurant
Chef of the Year
Scott Drewno – The Source by Wolfgang Puck