Here Are the Finalists for the 2015 RAMMY Awards

The Oscars of the local bar/restaurant industry have begun.
Chef Tarver King at the Restaurant at Patowmack Farm, up for three RAMMY Award categories. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

It’s officially awards season for Washington’s bars and restaurants: first with the announcement of the James Beard finalists, and now the 2015 RAMMY Awards. While the former is a national accolade–and one bestowed on a very select few–the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) is behind the RAMMY honors, which celebrate various aspects of the local bar and restaurant industry.

The finalists for the awards were announced during a cocktail party Monday evening at the Hamilton Live (see a full list of the nominees below). The winner in four categories will be chosen by the voting public: Favorite Gathering Place of the Year, Upscale Brunch, Everyday Casual Brunch, and Favorite Fast Bites. The rest, like Chef of the Year, are decided by a panel of judges (typically a mix of media types, industry professionals, and past winners).

As we note every year, the RAMMYs aren’t a comprehensive representation of all the best Washington has to offer. Only paying members of the RAMW are eligable nominees—the go-to notable exception is Rose’s Luxury—and many categories require a minimum one year of operation before being included.

The obligatory fine print being noted, a RAMMY Award is still considered an honor—or at least a boasting point—for many in the industry when the winners are selected on June 7. Without further ado, the 2015 finalists, with a brief explanation of each category provided by the RAMW.

2015 RAMMY Award Finalists

Favorite Gathering Place of the Year: This nominee is a restaurant rooted in its neighborhood where guests come to eat, drink, and get together with friends over and over again. The great atmosphere and good vibes are as important as the food and drink. The nominee must have been open for at least 5 years prior to December 1, 2014.

· Bar Pilar

· Cashion’s Eat Place

· ChurchKey

· Et Voila!

· Evening Star Café

Upscale Casual Brunch: The nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a high standard of dining excellence and service for its brunch in an Upscale Casual environment. Brunch may be offered as full-service, buffet, or prix fixe. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of one year by December 1, 2014.

· Birch & Barley

· Kapnos

· Le Diplomate

· The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm

· Seasons at The Four Seasons

Everyday Casual Brunch: The nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a dedication to dining excellence, service and value in a Casual environment for brunch. Brunch may be offered as full-service, buffet, or prix fixe. The nominee must have been in operation for a minimum of one year as of December 1, 2014.

· Beuchert’s Saloon

· The Daily Dish

· DGS Delicatessen

· Duke’s Grocery

· The Liberty Tavern

Favorite Fast Bites: This nominee is a delicatessen, quick-serve restaurant, mobile food vendor, or coffee shop (with food menu) that demonstrates a dedication to good food and good service in a fast-casual environment. The nominee must have been in operation for a minimum of one year as of December 1, 2014.

· Cava Grill – Bethesda Row

· DCity Smokehouse

· G by Mike Isabella

· Pete’s New Haven Style Apizza – Friendship Heights

· Red Apron Butcher – Union Market

Cocktail Program of the Year: The establishment is distinguished by the quality, diversity, clarity and value of its craft cocktail program, evaluated separately from its beer, wine or other beverages. Nominees may be bars, restaurants, or any foodservice establishment with an exemplary cocktail program. The nominee continues to break new ground in education of its staff. The nominee must have been in operation for a minimum of one year as of December 1, 2014.

· 2 Birds, 1 Stone

· barmini by José Andrés

· Bourbon Steak

· Iron Gate

· Trummer’s on Main

Beer Program of the Year: The establishment is distinguished by the quality, diversity, clarity and value of its beer program. Brewery restaurants and brew pubs are eligible for this category and will be judged based on the diversity and quality of their craft beer. The nominee continues to break new ground in education of its staff. The nominee must have been in operation for a minimum of one year as of December 1, 2014.

· The Arsenal at Bluejacket

· Brasserie Beck

· Granville Moore’s

· Mad Fox Brewing Company

· Pizzeria Paradiso – Georgetown

Wine Program of the Year: The establishment is distinguished by the quality, diversity, clarity and value of its wine program. The nominee’s wine program best suits the cuisine and style of the restaurant while enhancing the dining experience. Wine bars are eligible for this category and will be judged based on the diversity and quality of their offerings. The nominee continues to break new ground in education of its staff. The nominee must have been in operation for a minimum of one year as of December 1, 2014.

· Charlie Palmer Steak

· Fiola

· Iron Gate

· Proof

· The Red Hen

Employee of the Year: The nominee is a non-managerial front or back of the house employee who serves as a model employee by displaying outstanding service, an excellent work ethic and a positive image.

· Aurelio Diaz – RIS

· Adnane Kebaier – Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier

· Evan Labb – Evening Star Cafe

· LaGina Lewis – Farmers Fishers Bakers

· David Sabbadino – Zaytinya

Manager of the Year: The nominee is a non-owner manager or general manager in the food service industry who displays the highest level of professionalism and leadership. This person must be an inspiration and mentor to all his/her co-workers displaying outstanding service, an excellent work ethic and a positive image.

· Neill Blackwood – Mintwood Place

· Rachel Bronson – Red Apron Butcher

· Joseph Cerione – Blue Duck Tavern

· Ryan McCarthy – PassionFish Reston

· Atul Narain – Rasika

Service Program of the Year: This nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a high standard of excellence in service across the restaurant – from the reservation process, to the host station, to every element of the dining experience. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of two years by December 1, 2014.

· Bourbon Steak

· Fiola

· Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier

· Rasika

· The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm

Pastry Chef of the Year: The nominee is a restaurant pastry chef who prepares desserts and baked goods and demonstrates a high standard of excellence and culinary artistry. The nominee serves as an inspiration to other food professionals. The nominee must have been a pastry chef for the past five years with a minimum of two years based in the Metropolitan Washington area.

· Agnes Chin – The Grill Room, Capella Hotel

· Naomi Gallego – Blue Duck Tavern

· Kendra Grieco – Fiola

· Michelle Poteaux – Bastille

· Susan Wallace – BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant

Rising Culinary Star of the Year: The nominee is an “up and coming” chef who demonstrates exemplary talent, shows leadership and promise for the future. The nominee must have been based in the Metropolitan Washington area for a minimum of two years.

· Austin Fausett – Trummer’s on Main

· Tim Ma – Maple Ave Restaurant, Water & Wall

· Harper McClure – BRABO by Robert Wiedmaier

· George Pagonis – Kapnos

· Danny Wells – Republic

Everyday Casual Restaurant of the Year: The nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a dedication to dining excellence, service and value in a casual environment. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of two years by December 1, 2014.

· DGS Delicatessen

· Granville Moore’s

· Hank’s Oyster Bar – Capitol Hill

· Hill Country Barbecue Market

· Ted’s Bulletin – Capitol Hill

Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year: The nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a high standard of dining excellence and service in an upscale casual environment. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of two years by December 1, 2014.

· Birch & Barley

· Maple Ave Restaurant

· Mintwood Place

· Proof

· Vermilion

New Restaurant of the Year: A restaurant that must have opened between December 1, 2013 and November 30, 2014 and already distinguishes itself as a pacesetter in food, beverage and service.

· Crane & Turtle

· Fiola Mare

· The Partisan

· Republic

· TICO

Formal Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year: The nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a high standard of excellence in food, service and atmosphere and shows dedication to sophisticated culinary techniques in a fine dining environment. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of two years by December 1, 2014.

· Marcel’s by Robert Wiedmaier

· minibar by José Andrés

· Rasika

· The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm

· Trummer’s on Main

Chef of the Year: The nominee is an executive chef or chef de cuisine who demonstrates consistent standards of culinary excellence. The nominee displays a dedication to the artistry of food and may be from any type of establishment. The nominee must have been a chef for the past five years with a minimum of two years based in the Metropolitan Washington area.

· Victor Albisu – Del Campo

· Nathan Anda and Ed Witt – The Partisan

· Cedric Maupillier – Mintwood Place

· Marjorie Meek-Bradley – Ripple, Roofers Union

· Johnny Spero – minibar by José Andrés

Regional Food and Beverage Producer of the Year: This nominee is a food or beverage artisan who creates a product that is then utilized by chefs and restaurants. Nominees in this category may be cheese makers, coffee roasters, vintners, brewers, distillers, bread bakers, chocolatiers, honey producers, farmers, an ice cream/gelato company and many more. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of one year by December 1, 2014.

· Catoctin Creek Distilling Company

· DC Brau Brewing Company

· Dolci Gelati

· Early Mountain Vineyards

· New Columbia Distillers

Restaurateur of the Year: The nominee must be a working restaurateur or restaurant group who sets high standards in restaurant operations and entrepreneurship. Candidates must have been in the restaurant business for a minimum of 5 years in the Metropolitan Washington area.

· José Andrés and Rob Wilder – ThinkFoodGroup

· Mike Isabella – Mike Isabella Concepts

· Fabio and Maria Trabocchi – Fiola, Casa Luca, Fiola Mare

· Jeff Tunks, David Wizenberg, Gus DiMillo – Passion Food Hospitality

· Robert Wiedmaier, Brian McBride, Frank Shull, and Joe Lively – RW Restaurant Group

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