President Obama’s election has done more than usher in a new era of US politics—it has also shone a spotlight on Washington area restaurants. This hardly went unnoticed at the 27th RAMMY Awards last night at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, where more than a thousand movers and shakers of local foodies and media gathered to honor this year’s winners and nominees.
The evening began with a two-hour reception, replete with open bar and hors d’ouevres, where guests and nominees --dressed to the nines --milled about and cavorted with their fellow foodies. A number of guests commented on the stature of the RAMMYS, noting that as Washington quickly establishes itself as a major contender on the American culinary map, the awards are becoming more prestigious, garnering more press attention and celebrity personalities. This year’s attendees even included Congressman Jim Moran and former “Top Chef” contestants, Carla Hall and Ariane Duarte, who also presented.
Top Chef’s Hall and Duarte presented the Pastry Chef honor to Kate Jansen of Willow in Arlington, Va., and Bon Appétit Editor in Chief Barbara Fairchild presented Restaurant Eve in Alexandria with Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year. Rasika won the prestigious Upscale Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year, beating out Alexandria’s Majestic and Bastille and Cork was honored as the New Restaurant of the Year, receiving thunderous applause. The last and most prestigious award of the night was the Chef of the Year category, which included renowned chefs such as Jamie Leeds of Hanks/CommonWealth, Todd Gray of Equinox and Robert Wiedmaier of Marcel’s/Brasserie Beck in DC. Wiedemaier took home the top prize (as did his colleague Juan Francisco Lopez for Restaurant Employee of the Year.)
Given the number of nominees located outside of D.C. proper, it’s noticeable that the Washington-area suburbs are establishing themselves as major competition to city restaurants. In the past 20 years, Washington has been luring a number of top chefs and restaurateurs from not only around the county but around the world, and after last night’s busy and bustling RAMMYS, it’s safe to say that the District and its environs have officially “arrived.”
Other RAMMYS winners include: CityZen (Wine & Beverage Program of the Year); The Liberty Tavern (Neighborhood Gathering Place of the Year); CoCo. Sala (Hottest Bar Scene of the Year); Central Michel Richard (Power Spot of the Year); Teatro Goldoni (Your Favorite Restaurant of the Year); The Prime Rib (Visitors’ Choice Award) and Billy Martin’s Tavern (Honorary Award).