Food

Here Are the Winners of Washington’s 2019 RAMMY Awards

The Salt Line's Kyle Bailey and Spoken English received some of the top honors
The RAMMYS gala at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Photograph by Dan Swartz.

The Salt Line‘s Kyle Bailey was named “chef of the year,” and Kith and Kin‘s Kwame Onwuachi continued his year in the spotlight with the title of “rising star chef” at last night’s RAMMY Awards. Among the other big winners at the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washingtonian’s annual industry gala: Unconventional Diner, which nabbed the most awards (two) for best upscale brunch and pastry chef, and Spoken English, which was named best new restaurant.

“Chef of the Year” Kyle Bailey of The Salt Line and his wife, Tiffany MacIsaac of Buttercream Bakeshop. Photograph by Daniel Swartz.

Overall, the night produced few shockers or buzzy moments, although there were perhaps a couple head scratchers. (Virginia’s Open Road, for example, beat out better-known watering holes like Quarry House Tavern in the publicly voted category of favorite gathering place.)

If anything, some of the picks felt a little unrepresentative of the vast dining and drinking scene, which has a lot to do with Restaurant Association Metropolitan’s restrictive rules. Beyond the fact that finalists must be paying members of the organization (hence no Dabney or Tail Up Goat), past winners are barred for five years from competing in the categories they previously won and restaurants younger than two years are not eligible for some of the top awards. Most of the winners are selected by an anonymous panel of food writers and industry professionals.

If there was a highlight to the awards ceremony, it was the tribute to Clyde’s CEO John Laytham, who died in January at age 74. Mayor Muriel Bowser was on hand to declare Nov. 12, his birthday, “John Laytham Day.” The RAMMYS also renamed a leadership award after the restaurateur, who started his career as a dishwasher at Clyde’s of Georgetown and became a partner within five years.

Clyde’s Managing Director David Moran, who worked with Laytham for 30 years, choked up as he called his mentor “one of the great restaurateurs of the 21st century.” Moran asked anyone in the room who’d ever drank at at “one of John’s bars” to stand up. The entire audience rose out of their chairs.

John Laytham’s family and the Clyde’s Restaurant Group team. Photograph by Dan Swartz.

And now, the winners (and more photos!):

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. When the artisan is a restaurant or restaurant group, the products created must be utilized by chefs and/or restaurants outside of the maker’s restaurant group. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of one year by December 31, 2018.
WINNER: Ivy City Smokehouse
Arcadia Farm
Atlas Brew Works
Ayrshire Farm
Logan Sausage Co.

New Restaurant of the Year: A restaurant that must have opened between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018 and already distinguishes itself as a pacesetter in food, beverage and service.
WINNER: Spoken English
Chloe
Kaliwa
Poca Madre
St. Anselm

The Barmini team. Photograph by Dan Swartz.

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 31, 2018.
WINNER: Barmini by José Andrés
Bresca
Daikaya
Petworth Citizen and Reading Room
Royal

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 31, 2018.
WINNER: Republic
B Side
Caboose Tavern
Pizzeria Paradiso – Dupont
Roofers Union

The Maxwell Park team: Max Kuller, Daniel Runnerstrom, Brent Kroll, and Niki Lang. Photograph by Dan Swartz.

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 31, 2018.
WINNER: Maxwell Park
Cork Wine Bar and Market
Le Diplomate
Minibar by José Andrés
Trummer’s On Main

The Kith and Kin team, including chef Kwame Onwuachi (third from left). Photograph by Dan Swartz.

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.
WINNER: Kwame Onwuachi, Kith and Kin
Javier Fernandez, Kuya Ja’s Lechon Belly
Adam Howard, Blue Duck Tavern
John MacPherson, Three Blacksmiths
Daniela Moreira, Call Your Mother Deli, Timber Pizza Company

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 repeatedly. The great atmosphere and good vibes are as important as the food and drink. The nominee must have been open for at least 2 years prior to December 31, 2018.
WINNER: Open Road
Duke’s Counter
Perry’s
Quarry House Tavern
Vinoteca

Upscale Brunch of the Year: 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 31, 2018.
WINNER: Unconventional Diner
Estadio
Seasons
The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm
The Source by Wolfgang Puck

Compass Rose owner Rose Previte, Masseria owner Nicholas Stefanelli, and Mayor Muriel Bowser. Photograph by Dan Swartz.

Casual Brunch of the Year: 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 31, 2018.
WINNER: Compass Rose Bar + Kitchen
Brookland’s Finest Bar & Kitchen
Casolare Ristorante & Bar
Maketto
The Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse

Taco Bamba owner Victor Albisu and his mom, Rosa Susinski. Photograph by Dan Swartz.

Favorite Fast Bites of the Year: 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 31, 2018.
WINNER: Taco Bamba
Chiko
Little Red Fox
Rasa
Shouk

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.
WINNER: Valentine King, Hummingbird Bar and Kitchen
Oscar Ardon, Doi Moi
Maria Contreras, Jaleo Crystal City
Eloy Juarez Alvarez, Mintwood Place
Fred Uku, The Red Hen

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.
WINNER: Donna Seal, Oceanaire
Dave Delaplaine, Roofers Union
Sabrine Marques, PassionFish Bethesda
Richard Stewart, iRicchi Ristorante
Paris Twyman, Founding Farmers Tysons

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 31, 2018.
WINNER: Ambar – Clarendon
Carlyle Grand Cafe
Iron Gate
Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak, & Stone Crab
The Riggsby

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 31, 2018.
WINNER: Royal
All Purpose – Shaw
Bantam King
Bindaas – Cleveland Park
Maketto

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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 31, 2018.
WINNER: Iron Gate
Centrolina
Momofuku CCDC
Sally’s Middle Name
Sushi Taro

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.
WINNER: Ana Deshaies, Unconventional Diner
Fabrice Bendano, Le Diplomate
Pichet Ong, Brothers and Sisters, Spoken English
Paola Velez, Iron Gate
Meagan Tighe, Trummer’s On Main

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 31, 2018.
WINNER: The Source by Wolfgang Puck
Blue Duck Tavern
Bourbon Steak
Rasika
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.
WINNER: Kyle Bailey, The Salt Line
David Deshaies, Unconventional Diner
Marjorie Meek-Bradley, St. Anselm
Russell Smith, The Source by Wolfgang Puck
Nicholas Stefanelli, Masseria, Officina

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.
WINNER: Michael Friedman, Mike O’Malley, Colin McDonough, Gareth Croke, All Purpose Restaurants
Victor Albisu, Poca Madre, Taco Bamba Taqueria
Jackie Greenbaum & Gordon Banks, Bar Charley, El Chucho, Little Coco’s, Quarry House Tavern, Slash Run
Rose Previte, Compass Rose Bar + Kitchen, Maydan
Daisuke Utagawa, Katsuya Fukushima, and Yama Jewayni, Daikaya Group

Joan Hisaoka Allied Member of the Year: The award is presented to an associate member who best exemplifies commitment to and support of RAMW. This award recipient is determined by RAMW’s Executive Committee.
WINNER: The Veritas Law Firm
Coastal Sunbelt Produce
Congressional Seafood Co.
Saval Foodservice
TriMark Adams-Burch

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.