Forties-style glam, replete with gleaming white tuxedo jackets, sparkling gowns, and locks of curled hair, gave this year’s RAMMY awards gala a defined dramatic flare. The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s annual awards, known as RAMMYs, are for exceptional restaurant industry professionals who have proven their mettle amongst their peers. This year’s RAMMY awards were focused on the theme of “We’ll always have restaurants…” a play on the much-repeated line from Casablanca.
More importantly than the period feel of the event, though, was the prestige of the RAMMY awards, held at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. As an industry-focused event where chefs and professionals are in attendance, raucous laughter replaced polite tittering. The acceptance speeches, despite being reduced this year to 30 seconds or less, were far from a polite thank you. Chef Scott Drewno of The Source quipped when he accepted his Chef of the Year award that he was grateful to “the foodies, the gluttons, and the lushes.”
Shortened speech time wasn’t the only format change this year. Instead of having a seated dinner during the awards presentation, there was a seated awards ceremony, followed by dinner, dancing, and celebrating with colleagues and friends. This was an astute move on the part of the RAMW because, as President Lynne Breaux commented “as restaurateurs, we know how to party.”
As the RAMW demonstrates such support of the restaurant industry, there was more of a sense of camaraderie and well-deserved reveling for the hundreds of hard-working chefs, pastry chefs, mixologists etc. in attendance, than the stuffiness usually associated with anything ceremonious.
The post-awards ceremony dinner was served at a number of country-sponsored pavilions from Australia and Chile to Mexico and Virginia, each serving their own regional or national dishes. The highlight of the dinner though was undoubtedly the cocktails crafted by the nominated mixologists. One standout was Chantal Tseng of Tabard Inn’s delicate Casablanca Crusta cocktail with gin, Cointreau, chamomile-honey syrup, lemon juice, and bitters, with a sugar rim, lemon peel, and a sprig of mint served in small vintage glasses. The unofficial after-party was hosted at Birch & Barley, whose team walked away at the end of the night with two awards. Chef Kyle Bailey and Pastry Chef Tiffany MacIsaac and the Birch & Barley team hosted nominees and winners alike in a jubilant celebration of what makes DC so special—camaraderie rather than rivalry.
See the slideshow below for 2010 RAMMYs event photos and award winners.
Birch & Barley/Churchkey, Washington DC