The James Beard Foundation announced its much-anticipated list of Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists for 2014. Washington toques and eateries scored 19 nominations out of more than 38,000 entries, qualifying in categories including Best Chef Mid-Atlantic and Best New Restaurant. The five final nominees for each category will be chosen by a panel of judges and announced on March 18; the winners will be revealed in May. Good luck to all our local contenders, listed below.
BEST NEW RESTAURANT
OUTSTANDING BAR PROGRAM
OUTSTANDING PASTRY CHEF
Tiffany MacIsaac, Birch & Barley
Stephen Starr (not entirely local, but a Washington presence with Le Diplomate)
OUTSTANDING WINE PROGRAM
RISING STAR CHEF OF THE YEAR
Marjorie Meek-Bradley, Ripple
BEST CHEF: MID-ATLANTIC
Cathal Armstrong, Restaurant Eve
Anthony Chittum, Iron Gate
Haidar Karoum, Proof
Tarver King, the Restaurant at Patowmack Farm
Cedric Maupillier, Mintwood Place
Vikram Sunderam, Rasika
Back in February, the James Beard Foundation announced its long list of contenders for the 2013 Restaurant and Chef Awards—and Washington restaurants and toques did pretty well, with semifinalists in seven categories.
That list is often confused with the nominee list, which was not revealed until Monday, March 18. Beginning at 11:30, the finalists were announced from Charleston, South Carolina.
In addition to restaurant and chef noms, we also learned which food writers would compete for Book, Broadcast, and Journalism awards in 2013. We are incredibly excited to be counted among them—The Washingtonian is a finalist for food coverage in a general interest publication.
The awards will be announced on May 3 and 6. Chopped star Ted Allen hosts the journalism awards. Stanley Tucci is master of ceremonies on May 6 at the restaurant awards. The full list is below.
It’s been quite a week for Washington dining and drinking spots in the national press. Esquire just posted its annual roundup of Best New Restaurants. Sadly there’s not a single DC eatery among the top 15 (Bon Appétit disagrees), but one well-known face made the list: Roberto Donna, who clinched Chef of the Year for his recent reemergence at Al Dente (formerly La Forchetta) in Upper Northwest.
Critic John Mariani notes in his writeup that Donna, “despite being one of America’s greatest chefs . . . had a habit of leaving restaurants before the paint dried.” There’s no mention of why Donna departed said restaurants (multiple lawsuits, perhaps?), among them the original Galileo that put him—and high-end Italian food in Washington—on the map, Bebo Trattoria, and Galileo III. Maybe Al Dente is the official new era that Donna has been striving for. Mariana marvels that “he’s cooking his pants off, serving dishes so deceptively simple they seem like sleight of hand.”
Check out the issue when it hits on the stands on October 16 for a “classic” recipe from the Italian toque.
Washington’s bartenders are getting a lot of national magazine love of late, confirming what we already know: The District drinking scene is pretty great and just keeps getting better.
GQ just published a big beer-filled issue that lists ChurchKey and Birch & Barley as one of its 12 Bars for Beer Lovers, alongside Bailey’s Taproom in Portland and Brooklyn’s Spuytin Duyvil. (Unfortunately we didn’t make it into the 5 Best Beer Cities in America category—damn you, Philly.)
Rogue 24 cheftender Bryan Tetorakis is named Mixologist of the Month by the tony folks at Wine Enthusiast for his molecular spins on classic drinks. We’ve been fans of Tetorakis’s work for awhile, from smoked highballs at an outdoor concert to a spin on an Aviation cocktail with a cherry sphere at a $1,000-per-person fundraiser. Meanwhile, Rogue 24 chef R.J. Cooper is making a few Internet waves of his own: He’s set to appear in a six-episode Web show called Chefs of Anarchy, beginning this Thursday.
What Washington bars do you think should be getting more attention, national or otherwise? Leave us your suggestions in the comments section.
Last night, restaurant owners, employees, and their loved ones gathered at the Marriott Wardman Park for the 2012 RAMMY Awards, the annual honors doled out by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. The theme of the evening—hats off to local restaurants—inspired presenters, nominees, and attendees to break out fascinators, fedoras, and all other manner of headwear in honor of the occasion.
The big winner of the night was the staff of Black Restaurant Group. They scooped up three awards, including a Restaurateur of the Year trophy for Jeff and Barbara Black. In his acceptance speech, Jeff Black recognized the commitment of the “incredibly strong people” he worked with, emphasizing that it wasn’t “about the bloggers.” Black repeated that point as a musical cue prompted him to leave the stage. This odd moment was followed up with a gracious and understated speech by Rasika's Vikram Sunderam. He won Chef of the Year, the final award of the evening.
Other honorees included Mitsitam Native Foods Café—the eatery at the National Museum of the American Indian—as Casual Restaurant of the Year (a new category this year), and Fiola, the New Restaurant victor.
And then there were four. Tales of the Cocktail released its whittled-down list of finalists for this year's Spirited Awards—a very big deal in the booze world—and the Columbia Room made the cut in the category of Best American Cocktail Bar. Its owner, Derek Brown, had been among the contenders for American Bartender of the Year, but he didn't make the short list in that category. Washington Post booze scribe Jason Wilson, meanwhile, is no longer in contention for Best Cocktail Writing.
The Columbia Room is up against Brooklyn bar Clover Club, Houston's Anvil Bar & Refuge, and the Varnish in Los Angeles. The award will be announced on Saturday, July 28, in New Orleans.
Derek Brown, the Columbia Room, and WaPo's Jason Wilson Are Among the Tales of the Cocktail Awards Finalists This Year
Tales of the Cocktail--the spirits bacchanal held each July in New Orleans--announced the finalists for its Spirited Awards last night. The awards honor bartenders, bars, and cocktail writing around the country and the world.
American Bartender of the Year is always among the most anticipated honors, so it's very exciting Washington's Derek Brown--owner of the Passenger and the Columbia Room--is a contender. He's up against some heavy hitters: Portland's Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Jamie Boudreau from Seattle, and LA's Vincenzo Marianella are all well-known names among the cocktail-erati.
Brown's Columbia Room, often overseen by talented 'tendress Katie Nelson, is a contender for Best American Cocktail Bar. The 7th Street lounge also made it to the James Beard semifinals this year, and again finds itself up against some stiff New York and LA competition. San Francisco's beloved Bourbon & Branch is in the running, as is the much-lauded Anvil in Houston. In the Best Cocktail Writing--Author category, the Washington Post's Jason Wilson will take on libation luminary David Wondrich along with the Atlantic's Wayne Curtis, who happens to live in New Orleans.
Winners of the Spirited Awards will be announced during a ceremony on Saturday, July 28. Don't forget to cheer on your local sons.
The James Beard Awards were an unqualified disappointment for Washington this year, with our chefs and restaurants losing in the two categories for which they were nominated: Best Chef Mid-Atlantic (toques at Restaurant Eve, Komi, Obelisk, and Rasika were nominated) and Best New Restaurant (Fiola).
The shutout prompted one participant in the Kliman Online dining chat to ask Todd Kliman: "Why does the James Beard Foundation dislike DC?"
"I don't think it's that the Beard Foundation dislikes DC," Kliman replied. "I think that it likes--really likes--New York."