Food

Here Are the Finalists for the 2016 RAMMY Awards

The Oscars for Washington's restaurant industry have begun.
Photograph by Scott Suchman.

RAMMY Award season, a.k.a. the Oscars for Washington’s restaurant industry, is back. Last night, finalists in categories such as “new restaurant of the year” and “chef of the year” were announced. Winners will be determined at a gala ceremony on Sunday, June 12.

A panel of industry insiders selects the victors, save for four categories that are  decided by the voting public: “favorite gathering place of the year,” “upscale brunch,” “everyday casual brunch,” and “favorite fast bites.” All of the restaurants are paying members of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW); eateries who aren’t part of the organization are ineligible for nominations.

Below are the finalists for each category, with a description from the RAMW about the field and qualifications.

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.

New Restaurant of the Year: A restaurant that must have opened between December 1, 2014 and November 30, 2015 and already distinguishes itself as a pacesetter in food, beverage and service.

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, 2015.

Everyday Casual Dining 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, 2015.

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, 2015.

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, 2015.

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, 2015.

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, 2015.

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, 2015.

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, 2015.

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, 2015.

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, 2015.

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.

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.

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, 2015.

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.

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.

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, 2015.

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.

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Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.