And the Rammy Nominees Are . . .

The foodie awards season continued last night with a small party at the Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C., to announce this year’s Rammy Award nominees. If the nationally recognized James Beard Awards are seen as the Oscars of the food world, these regional accolades, handed out each year by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, could be deemed the Golden Globes. Winners will be announced June 29 at a raucous, themed gala—last year’s event paid homage to old Hollywood—at DC’s Marriott Wardman Park.

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Chefs, their PR reps, food writers, and bloggers came out in big numbers last night, crowding into a small ballroom at the Ritz to hear the announcements, nibble on hors d’oeuvres from nominated chefs, and sip festive cocktails mixed by some nominees for wine and beverage program of the year. The casual, happy-hour-ish event wrapped up by 7—a low-key prelude to the over-the-top gala coming up in June.

The 2008 nominees are:

New Restaurant of the Year

Brasserie Beck
Central Michel Richard
The Source
Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert

Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year

The Oval Room
Restaurant Eve

Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year


Chef of the Year

R.J. Cooper (Vidalia)
Todd Gray (Equinox)
Michel Richard (Citronelle and Central)
Robert Wiedmaier (Marcel’s and Brasserie Beck)
Eric Ziebold (CityZen)

Pastry Chef of the Year

Heather Chittum (Hook)
Michelle Garbee (Bastille)
Kate Jansen (Willow)
Melanie Parker (Equinox)
Josh Short (Neighborhood Restaurant Group)

Wine & Beverage Program of the Year

Mendocino Grille
Passion Food Hospitality (Acadiana, Ceiba, DC Coast, TenPenh)

Rising Culinary Star of the Year

Nathan Anda (Tallula)
Tony Chittum (Vermilion)
Tony Conte (The Oval Room)
Joe Raffa (Oyamel)
Barton Seaver (Hook)

Restaurant Manager of the Year

Hicham T. Bennani (Mie N Yu)
Christine de Clerfay (Oceanaire Seafood Room)
Molly McWhorter (Chef Geoff’s Downtown)
Ned Mirkovic (Morton’s the Steakhouse)
Adam Williamowsky (BLT Steak)

Restaurant Employee of the Year

Simo Amhandi (Equinox)
Michael Cherner (Mie N Yu)
Joel Guagliano (Zaytinya)
Chris Kelley (Mie N Yu)
Willians Perez Rollins (Chef Geoff’s)

The following four categories will be decided by the public—you can vote at or on a ballot that will appear in the Washington Post Magazine on May 18.

Neighborhood Gathering Place of the Year

Belga Cafe
Billy Martin’s Tavern
Hank’s Oyster Bar (DC location)
Mark and Orlando’s

Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene of the Year
Brasserie Beck
Central Michel Richard
The Source

Power Spot of the Year
Bistro Bis
Charlie Palmer Steak
The Monocle
Oceanaire Seafood Room
Seasons at the Four Seasons Hotel

Voters’ Favorite (to be selected by the public)