Who Won Big at the James Beard Awards?

Central Michel Richard chef de cuisine Cedric Maupillier celebrates the bistro’s Best New Restaurant win with Michel Richard. Photograph by Kent Miller.

The biggest, glitziest awards in the food world happened last night in New York City, and DC restaurants have much to cheer about. One of the evening's highest honors went to Central Michel Richard, which took the Best New Restaurant award beating out Dallas's Fearing, Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton’s Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles, Marc Vetri’s Osteria in Philly, and Anthos in New York. CityZen’s Eric Ziebold won the Best Chef Mid-Atlantic prize over Cathal Armstrong of Alexandria’s Restaurant Eve and Cindy Wolf of Baltimore’s Charleston. The award for Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional went to importer Terry Theise of Silver Spring's Terry Theise Estate Selections.

The awards seem to get flashier by the year. In 2007, the show moved from the staid Marriott Marquis in Times Square to Lincoln Center’s much bigger Avery Fisher Hall, where it played out again this time around with the help of ceremonial hosts Kim Cattrall and Bobby Flay. But really—a red carpet? And a paparazzi line? We couldn’t help but chuckle. José Andrés, a nominee for Outstanding Chef (won by Grant Achatz of Chicago's Alinea), is used to joking around under the bright lights, but Momofuku’s David Chang, the Virginia native who wound up winning the Best Chef New York City award, looked like he’d rather be, well, at a Celtics game, or at least on the party bus (or buses) he rented for after-gala festivities.

And speaking of the post-ceremony gala, where big-time chefs (and their doting publicists), wine gurus, cookbook writers, iPhone-toting journalists and bloggers, and the like mingled amidst chefs’ stations handing out dish samples,  this year’s theme was “Artisanal America.” Representing DC were Nora Pouillon, who provided strawberry and rhubarb gelati in brandysnap baskets, and—no rest, even for the winner—Eric Ziebold, who personally ladled green- rhubarb gazpacho around tempura softshell crabs. Now that’s dedication. He later really celebrated his victory at Danny Meyer's afterparty at Eleven Madison Park and at the shindig at Bar Boulud. Meanwhile, Michel Richard and Central chef de cuisine Cedric Maupillier and general manager Brian Zipin feted themselves over roast chicken and copious French fries at Alain Ducasse's Parisian-style bistro, Benoit. Back in DC, the Central staff threw themselves a party at the restaurant. 

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.