The scene: The theme of the evening (“We’ll Always Have . . . Restaurants”) took inspiration from the 1942 film Casablanca. Some attendees ignored the theme altogether, but some women—including Fox 5’s Sue Palka, the mistress of ceremonies—opted to wear glittery dresses and elbow-length satin gloves. Most men weren’t as creative, accessorizing their black tuxedos with fedoras.
Sharpest dressers: Bibiana chef Nicholas Stefinelli and PS 7’s chef/owner Peter Smith both dressed for the occasion. Channeling Humphrey Bogart, the chefs accepted their awards sporting white dinner jackets and black bow ties.
Biggest change from last year: In the past, the awards ceremony was conducted during a seated dinner, making it difficult to hear the speeches amid all the table chatter. This year, awards were presented in a theater-style ceremony, with dinner and dancing following in the hotel’s ballroom.
Biggest winners of the night: Judging by the booming cheers and applause from the audience, the biggest winner was the Logan Circle split-level spot Birch & Barley/ChurchKey. The beer-focused bar and restaurant took home awards in two categories: Best New Restaurant and Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene. The Falls Church dining room 2941 also had a strong showing, taking awards for Best Fine Dining Restaurant and Best Pastry Chef.
Best acceptance speech: Although winners were asked to keep their speeches to less than 30 seconds, the Source’s Scott Drewno—accepting Chef of the Year—went on for more than five minutes, thanking everyone from Wolfgang Puck to his in-laws. Drewno even got in a plug for the Newseum, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind his loquaciousness. It was a sincere and heartfelt speech, which he wrapped up by thanking his wife: “I’d be half the chef that I am today without her, and probably more importantly, half the person without her.”
Funniest acceptance speech: When Bon Appétit editor Barbara Fairchild announced that the Penn Quarter restaurant Proof won the award for Best Wine Program, sommelier Sebastian Zutant took the stage with a plastic cup filled with wine. “I’m very disappointed in you people,” he said. “It’s pretty easy to smuggle booze. Plastic cups, kids. You should know by now.” Fairchild quipped: “I think he definitely deserves that award.”
The after-party: Sue Palka could hardly get the “good night” out of her mouth before the audience leapt from the chairs and headed to the ballroom for dinner and dancing. Guests feasted on cuisine from four regions: Australia, Chile, Mexico, and Virginia. At the bar, there was Mount Gay rum, Jim Beam whiskey, Absolut vodka, Plymouth gin, and Tres Generaciones tequila.
Best New Restaurant
Birch & Barley/ChurchKey
Upscale Casual Restaurant
Neighborhood Gathering Place
Cork Wine Bar
Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene
Birch & Barley/ChurchKey
Your Favorite Restaurant (voted by online/newspaper ballot)
Co Co. Sala
Chef of the Year
Scott Drewno, the Source by Wolfgang Puck
Pastry Chef of the Year
Anthony Chavez, 2941
Rising Culinary Star
Nicholas Stefinelli, Bibiana
Mark Politzer, Bourbon Steak
Adolfo Cajchon, Seasons
Joan Hisaoka Associate Member Award
ProChile and Wines of Chile
Duke Zeibert Capital Achievement Award
Bob Madigan, WTOP Radio
Where Magazine Visitors’ Choice Award
The Capital Grille
2010 Honorary Rammy Award
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