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    The Washington, DC Area Rising Star Award Winners and Why They Shine

    by Francoise Villeneuve with Antoinette Bruno and Will Blunt
    Antoinette Bruno and Vicky Wasik
    October 2010

    2010 DC Area Rising Stars

    Washington DC Chefs
    Rubén García, minibar by josé andrés and ThinkFoodGroup
    Benjamin Lambert, Restaurant Nora
    Nick Stefanelli, Bibiana
    David Varley, Bourbon Steak
    Nobu Yamazaki, Sushi Taro

    Virginia Chefs
    Jason Alley, Comfort
    Bertrand Chemel, 2941
    Clayton Miller, Trummer’s on Main
    John Shields, Town House Restaurant

    Maryland Chefs
    Bryan Voltaggio, VOLT

    Community Chef
    Matt Hill, Charlie Palmer Steak (Washington, DC)

    Sustainability Chef
    Isaiah Billington, Woodberry Kitchen (Maryland)

    Hotel Chef
    Dean Maupin, Keswick Hall (Virginia)

    Pastry Chefs
    Chris Ford, Trummer’s on Main (Virginia)
    Tiffany MacIsaac, Birch & Barley (Washington, DC)
    Karen Urie Shields, Town House Restaurant (Virginia)

    Mixologists
    Gina Chersevani, PS 7’s (Washington, DC)
    Stefan Trummer, Trummer’s on Main (Virginia)

    Sommeliers
    Greg Engert, Birch & Barley (Washington, DC)
    Carlton McCoy, Sou’Wester (Washington, DC)

    This year marked our third Rising Stars in DC, and it was high time we explored beyond the familiar confines of the city, and venture into the greater DC area. Of course, this is where we got a little carried away. But how could you not venture south into the burgeoning food scene fed by the agricultural mecca that is the Shenandoah Valley and beyond in Virginia? Maryland offered a host of its own nascent foodie treasures, too. The young chefs, pastry chefs, sommeliers, and mixologists are taking dining—in the Capital City and beyond—well past the good old days of the power lunch. They have intrepidly forged their own identities to fashion a flourishing culinary landscape.

    We tasted food, pastry, cocktails, and wine pairings from over 80 talented chefs, pastry chefs, mixologists, and sommeliers from Washington, DC, and beyond, well into Maryland and Virginia. A whole host of talent came through. So what makes them shine? Creativity, ambition, exquisite presentation, and, most importantly, a stellar dish win each up-and-coming culinary star the Rising Star Award.

    What's more, each Rising Star has a quality that makes us believe that person will be one of the future leaders of the country's culinary scene. Rising Stars are successfully pushing the culinary boundaries. Here's an introduction to the 2010 Washington DC Area award winners: who they are, why they shine, and how they're shaping the future of American dining.

     

    Chef Ruben GarciaWASHINGTON, DC CHEF: Chef Rubén García of minibar by josé andrés and ThinkFoodGroup

    Sure, he had mentors many chefs can only dream of in his native Spain—Martin Berasategui anyone?—but Rubén García longed to explore new horizons and travel. A chance meeting at elBulli with José Andrés and García took off to DC, eager to continue his culinary journey. As Andrés’ right hand man, Garcia helps shape the plethora of culinary concepts that form ThinkFoodGroup, from restaurants to cooking shows and cookbooks. But even within the culinary crucible that is ThinkFoodGroup, Garcia’s culinary style is all his own, and you can taste it. It’s full of love for traditional flavor profiles, but pops with fun and a sophisticated handle on modern technique, like his cotton candy eel that brings to mind a sushi staple with whiz–bangs to the palate in the form of an unexpected fluffy candy. In Garcia’s steady hands, the tools and techniques of molecular gastronomy do what they did for the masters he learned from–they act as a means to a sophisticated end, not the raison d’être of the dish.

    The Dishes that Clinched It:
    - Cotton Candy Eel

    - Charcoal Salmon Toro and Black Garlic

     

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    Benjamin LambertWASHINGTON DC CHEF: Benjamin Lambert, Restaurant Nora

    Chef Benjamin Lambert grew up in a family of gardeners, hunters, foragers, and preservers in Ohio. The urban wilderness now at his disposal is smaller, but Lambert isn't complaining. He has local farmers scrambling to custom-grow his latest and wildest desire, and the edible greenery he's coaxed from the small flowerbeds flanking his restaurant rivals the most sophisticated urban farm in quality, if not quantity. The garden is an apt choice for the first organic restaurant in DC. And Lambert finds plenty of uses for his harvest in his produce-driven cuisine, from the fresh pop of rarely-used coriander berries to the delicate nuance of basil seeds on a salad of hearts of palm. At Restaurant Nora the menu changes daily and there are no signature dishes, a challenge that would intimidate some chefs. But it's a challenge that Lambert meets head on, crafting inventive dishes from custom-grown locally-farmed produce with an inspired verve and a keen drive for new ideas to incorporate into his farm-to-table influenced dishes.

    The Dishes that Clinched It:
    - Hawaiian Hearts of Palm Salad, Thai Basil, Cucumber, Mango, Coriander Berries, Basil Seeds, Heirloom Tomato Water, and Hearts of Palm Sorbet

    - Rabbit Porchetta, Frenched Rack of Rabbit, Bolognese-Stuffed Zucchini Blossom, Fennel Purée, Zucchini, Baby Carrots, Crispy Zucchini Blossoms, Chanterelles, and Rabbit Jus

     

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    Nick Stefanelli

    WASHINGTON, DC CHEF: Nick Stefanelli, Bibiana

    Italian cuisine has always been a passion of Nick Stefanelli's. His resume is peppered with some of the top Italian restaurants in the country. At Bibiana he honors regional Italian cuisine through a modern lens, adroitly balancing pizza with rabbit rilettes. What is truly inspired is that he also infuses his menu with some of the personality of the American produce at hand; he tops pizzas with ramps in season, grinds them to a pesto for a fresh pasta dish, and works them into a roulade filling. He pays homage to the soul of Italian food without ego, expending as much effort on the local businessman in the restaurant for a half-hour lunch of pasta or salad as he does for that four-course meal. His roasted veal sweetbreads are full of elevated Roman flair and flavors of lemon, fennel and fresh fava beans, proving as long as this one-time would-be fashionista stays in the kitchen, elevated regional Italian will be in vogue.

    The Dishes that Clinched It:
    - Brown Butter Roasted Veal Sweetbreads, Candied Lemon, Fava Beans, and Mint

    - Squid Ink Spaghetti with Sea Urchins, Aglio, Olio, and Pepperoncini

     

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    David VarleyWASHINGTON, DC CHEF: David Varley, Bourbon Steak

    At Michael Mina restaurant Bourbon Steak in DC, David Varley takes the lessons of his early career to that old stalwart of the dining world, the steakhouse, and completely subverts the steak status quo. Sure, you can get a grilled steak if you want, but Varley’s secret weapon is the sharply honed creativity that not only leads to wildly uncommon dishes like his Thai and Singapore-inspired Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Shaved Green Papaya, Long Pepper Sauce, and Toasted Peanuts, but an ingenuity that takes grilled steak’s whopping profit margin and makes it pay for the high food cost of that foie gras. He knows how to work with the system without sacrificing his creativity, cleverly balancing invention and pragmatism. The result is a menu that shows innovation does have a place in the by-the-book world of steakhouses. Don’t judge a book by its cover, and don’t judge a restaurant by its name.

    The Dishes that Clinched It:
    - Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Shaved Green Papaya, Long Pepper, and Toasted Peanuts

    - Braised Elysian Fields Farm Lamb Shank, Black Olive Aigredoux, English Pea Falafel, and Garlic Confit

     

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    Nobu YamazakiWASHINGTON, DC CHEF: Nobu Yamazaki, Sushi Taro

    Chef Nobu Yamazaki may have graduated with a fine arts degree, but it was the lessons of his childhood in his parents’ restaurant that would shape his future at Sushi Taro. When Yamazaki took over the role of chef, he became frustrated by the lack of authentic Japanese food in the city. Yamazaki could have left things as they were, but he had another future in mind for Japanese restaurants. Undaunted by the prospect of a drastic change, he redid the restaurant, reworked the menu, and reopened with updated décor and a chef’s counter worthy of Yamazaki’s seasonal rarities like fresh bamboo and faithful touches like freshly grated wasabi. His hunch paid off, and the balanced and delicate flavors at the heart of his Japanese cuisine still have a captive and captivated audience at this updated gem.

    The Dishes that Clinched It:
    - Alaskan King Crab Shabu Shabu

    - Wild Prawn, Winter Melon, Snapping Turtle Jelly, Fuki Leaf, and Ginger

     

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    Jason AlleyVIRGINIA CHEF: Jason Alley, Comfort

    While some chefs follow in the footsteps of mentors, others like Chef Jason Alley march to the beat of their own drums. In the historic town of Richmond, Virginia, Alley decided to open a restaurant he would actually feel comfortable eating in. Alley took a leap and opened his Southern comfort-food joint Comfort with a chef-centric menu, modern-casual vibe, and whiskey selection any big city bar would envy. Alley’s cooking shows a solid grounding in classical American dishes and clean technique. The menu is replete with hearty, soothing dishes like ginger beer-braised pork cheeks, and an unapologetic dedication to old-school Southern food that most Virginians grew up eating. It’s clear when you see the level to which Alley takes his program of house-cured pickles, crackers, limeades, and sodas. He was inspired by New York’s Momofuku to create a modern-casual vibe where the focus is where it should be—on the food. Not content with the one game-changing restaurant, Alley is planning his second restaurant with his partner Chris Chandler. And in any downtime, he’s playing in his Spanglish Ramones cover band.

    The Dishes that Clinched It:
    - Braised Canada Pork Cheeks, Juniper, Ginger Beer, Stone Ground Grits, and Arugula

    - Southern Relish Tray: Deviled Eggs, Crudités, Pimento Cheese, and House-made Pickles and Crackers

     

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    Bertand ChemelVIRGINIA CHEF: Bertrand Chemel, 2941

    2941 is an idyllic be-shrubbery-ed oasis of top-notch grub in a sea of strip malls and blocks of vaguely corporate-looking cement. This is where Chef Bertrand Chemel brings a welcome dose of Gallic flair to the table, not to mention his years of training under empire-builder Daniel Boulud. He has helped transform this area of Northern Virginia, and it has transformed him in turn, from the on-the-property garden's fresh herbs in the summer to the American nuances that have influenced Chemel’s cuisine. Next to a classically buttery French scallop dish on the menu you’ll find concessions to the local flora, like Virginia beets. It’s good to be bilingual, and Chemel blends the traditional and the innovative with ease and grace, but always with an eye to respecting the classics—both French and American.

    The Dishes that Clinched It:
    - Local Beets, Compressed Watermelon, Laughing Bird Shrimp, and Cherrywood Balsamic

    - Butter-Seared Scallops, Summer Truffles, and Emmenthal Cheese Fondue

     

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    Clayton MillerVIRGINIA CHEF: Clayton Miller, Trummer’s on Main

    When many chefs were learning how to bake sugar cookies and apple pies at their gastronomically gifted grandmothers’ knees, Clayton Miller had no such luck. He had to earn his stripes; they were not inherited, which makes the prodigiously gifted chef all the more impressive. At Trummer’s on Main Miller waxes lyrical about the wealth of Shenandoah Valley produce. That he has found his peg in the culinary world shows in his comfort with making incredibly out-of-the-box choices, like salmon roe with tangy BBQ sorbet and crunchy cocoa nibs, or the off-cut that is anything but fishy, salmon collar. He takes simple, lusciously plump chilled mussels and tops them with a maritime foam that could have washed up on the shore of an idyllic beach somewhere. The unexpected addition of quinoa, usually bringing to mind a hippy commune food rather than fine dining, makes for an earthy and fresh element to this dish and is an inspired choice. Choices like that take courage in the sleepy town of Clifton, Virginia—not exactly known up until this point for its cutting-edge food scene. And though Miller’s the new kid on the block, we have a feeling he’ll be sticking around for a while.

    The Dishes that Clinched It:
    - Chilled New Zealand Greenshell Mussels, Quinoa, Curry Mayo, and Fluffy Ocean

    - The King: Alaskan King Salmon Roe, BBQ Sorbet, and Cocoa Nibs; Grilled Salmon Collar and Fried Salmon Skin

     

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    John ShieldsVIRGINIA CHEF: John Shields, Town House Restaurant

    After working at some of the most renowned restaurants in the country, from Charlie Trotter’s to Alinea, Chef John Shields longed to run a kitchen of his own. But instead of moving down the block in Chicago, he packed his bags and moved with his pastry chef wife Karen Urie Shields to Chilhowie, Virginia. Here they strive everyday to rework culinary Americana—and destination dining—with inventive flair and distinct panache. Shields not only turns out food previously nonexistent outside of a large city, but he paves the way for other restaurateurs who might be inclined to do so, whipping up fundraising dinners for the Appalachian Sustainable Development organization. Dishes like Peekytoe Crab with Brown Butter, Lime, Various Onions, “Uni of Banana,” and Lobster Mushrooms show a serious sophistication that put Chilhowie on the culinary map.

    The Dishes that Clinched It:
    - Australian Lamb, Cooked in Ash with Smoked Eggplant Puree, Miso, Bonito Dressing, and Black Garlic

    - Peekytoe Crab with Brown Butter, Lime, Various Onions, “Uni of Banana,” and Lobster Mushrooms

     

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    Bryan VoltaggioMARYLAND CHEF: Bryan Voltaggio, VOLT

    Chef Bryan Voltaggio brought his years of experience in top kitchens around the country, and lessons learned under the wing of Charlie Palmer, back to the town where he grew up: Frederick, Maryland. Here he calls upon local farmers and purveyors to populate a menu that heralds locality and seasonality and harnesses innovative technique. And he has a deft hand at applying cutting edge methods to classics without missing a beat in a way that makes the diner open to new ideas. Voltaggio’s inimitable approach to everyday classics is not just whimsical and sophisticated, but also refreshing; his bagels and lox spin-off, which included arctic char, everything bagel crumbs, and pickled mustard seeds with lemon pudding, has its roots in something comforting and familiar. Homecoming never looked so promising or tasted so good.

     The Dishes that Clinched It:
    - New Zealand King Salmon, Everything Bagel Crumbs, Pickled Mustard Seeds, Lemon Pudding, Chives, and Red Onion

    - Butter-Poached Maine Lobster, Lobster Gnocchi, Caramelized Fennel, Lobster Crisp, and Sunchoke Soup

     

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    Chris FordPASTRY CHEF: Chris Ford, Trummer’s on Main (Virginia)

    A photography enthusiast, blogger, and quenelling machine, Chris Ford has an irrepressible enthusiasm. But the real gift that he has is in showcasing subtle flavors and balancing them with a myriad of techniques without overwhelming the palate. His Coconut Cream, Basil Pound Cake, and Cantaloupe Sorbet has an almost feminine delicacy and Japanese cleanness in its approach. The fact that he is only 24 doesn’t seem to hold him back. The young pastry chef is always anxious to conquer new culinary terrain, and never stops pushing to make it happen. He intends to publish his first cookbook by the time he’s 30, for one, and also plans to dominate at next year’s International Pastry Competition at the StarChefs.com International Chefs Congress (he was one of the three finalists this year).

    The Desserts that Clinched It:
    - Chocolate Soup, Cocoa Nib Sherbet, Cinnamon Marshmallow, and Devil's Food Cake

    - Coconut Cream, Basil Pound Cake, and Cantaloupe Sorbet

     

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    Tiffany MacIsaacPASTRY CHEF: Tiffany MacIsaac, Birch & Barley (Washington, DC)

    Tiffany MacIsaac is a firm believer in substance before beauty, at least in dessert. Her baking wizardry at DC’s Birch & Barley is derived from top-notch ingredients, made from scratch daily, and runs the gamut from perfectly bronzed pretzel rolls to elegantly re-imagined composed desserts and reworked—not to mention seriously upgraded—childhood favorites. (We’ll never look at Hostess cupcakes the same way again.) A font of creativity, MacIsaac crafts and spins all the delectable ice creams served at each of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group restaurants on a daily basis and will soon be providing the baked goods for an upcoming ice cream shop and bakery for the group. Not only does she share the spotlight at Birch & Barley with husband Chef Kyle Bailey, but also tailors her rustic comforting desserts to Beer Sommelier Greg Engert’s beer pairings with a lack of diva attitude that speaks volumes about her unselfish nature...and career that runs on pure talent.  

    The Desserts that Clinched It:
    - Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart, Malted Milk Sorbet, and Whiskey Vanilla Shake

    - Cookies and Confections: Hostess Cupcake, Oatmeal Cream Pie, Pudding Pop, Lemon-Glazed Donut, Mint Chip Eskimo Pie, and Cashew Snickers Bar

     

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    Karen Urie ShieldsPASTRY CHEF: Karen Urie Shields, Town House Restaurant (Virginia)

    Karen Urie Shields and her husband Chef John Shields opened Town House in Chilhowie, Virginia with one mission: to offer world class food from the land where the food starts its life. Urie Shields has an impressive pastry pedigree, including time at Charlie Trotter’s and Tru. But the warm and inviting restaurant where she now weaves her magic is a far cry from the palatial chandelier-encrusted destination restaurants of yore. But what really sets her apart is her ability to translate the landscape around her into slick dishes. Take her Stones: Textures of Chocolate, Black Sesame, Buttermilk, and Coffee; inspired by a walk in the woods, she recreated the “stones” on the plate, mimicking the rocks beneath her feet, while adeptly juxtaposing temperatures, textures, and flavors with polish and imagination. She isn’t bound by traditional conventions of savory and sweet ingredients either; her mind embraces parsnips, black sesame, and lemongrass as easily as the traditional chocolates and bananas of humdrum desserts, always with mind blowing results.  

    The Desserts that Clinched It:
    - Parsnip Candy, Coconut, Yeast Sponge, Banana, Maca Crumbs, and Lemongrass
    - Stones: Textures of Chocolate, Black Sesame, Buttermilk, and Coffee

     

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    Dean MaupinHOTEL CHEF: Dean Maupin, Keswick Hall (Virginia)

    Virginia is Maupin’s love, life, homeland, career history, and cultural heritage all rolled into one, and it shows in his food. He learned early how to harness the fertile agricultural scene of The Blue Ridge Mountains in his dishes at The Orient Express property Keswick Hall. Now at the small Relais & Chateau hotel property of Clifton Inn, Maupin sticks to the French techniques of sauces and stocks that he learned during his apprenticeship in West Virginia at The Greenbrier, but he also opts for ingredients like the Anson Mills polenta that he has custom-milled, or the butter made locally, always aware that each dish is more than the sum of its (local) parts. Though there are under twenty rooms, Maupin throws himself energetically into off-premise catering, banquets, and rehearsal dinners for the area’s growing wedding industry. When he’s not busy teaching cooking classes at Clifton to eager honeymooners and vacationers, he is devoted to working with a culinary arts program in Charlottesville to help train the next generation of Virginian up-and-comers.

    The Dishes that Clinched It:
    - Duck Confit and Ricotta Gnocchi with Butternut Squash, Arugula, Cracklin’s, and Grated Wisconsin SarVecchio Parmesan

    - Hamachi Crudo, Lime Aioli, Chives, Pickled Jalapenos, Golden Olive Oil, and Kecap Manis

     

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    Matt HillCOMMUNITY CHEF:
    Matt Hill, Charlie Palmer Steak (Washington, DC)

    It’s been a long journey for Community Chef Matt Hill to his position as chef at Charlie Palmer Steak. Hill’s style has the modern innovative and ingredient-driven bent of a Charlie Palmer, but with a home-grown appreciation for the produce that rings true in every dish. His roasted pork tenderloin is laced with cherry-pork jus originally conceived to herald the Capital City’s cherry blossom festival. Hill’s commitment to his community is tireless. He rallies for local schools, working with other DC chefs to support Share Our Strength. Their annual event was held this year at Charlie Palmer Steak, before Hill participated in the White House Chefs Move to Schools event that unified Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative and Share Our Strength in the fight against childhood obesity and malnutrition. His unstinting support for the DC chef and school communities is an inspiration, but we’d come back for his cheeky spin on tuna tartare, the Spiced Yellowfin Tuna "Cannelloni," Avocado, and Ponzu.

    The Dishes that Clinched It:
    - Prosciutto-Wrapped Canada Pork Tenderloin, Cauliflower, and Preserved Cherries

    - Spiced Yellowfin Tuna "Cannelloni," Avocado, and Ponzu

     

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    Isaiah BillingtonSUSTAINABILITY CHEF: Isaiah Billington, Woodberry Kitchen (Maryland)

    The first pastry chef ever to be given the Sustainability Award by StarChefs.com, Isaiah Billington works as part of the team at Woodberry Kitchen under James Beard Award nominee Chef-Owner Spike Gjerde. Still a relative newbie to the industry, and still in his twenties, Billington takes farm-to-table very seriously. Under Gjerde’s watch, produce like fresh apricots from the local Maryland watershed are preserved in season and put-by by the restaurant’s team to last through the lengthy winter. When you think agricultural utopia, Maryland doesn’t necessarily come to mind. But what Gjerde and Billington do is perhaps all the more remarkable because it isn’t in sunny California where the growing season is practically year-round. And Billington’s commitment to the local movement is all the more impressive as a result. His berry-packed Summer Pudding may be English in origins, but it speaks to the agricultural bounty of the Baltimore area and is—in the end—Maryland through and through.

    The Dishes that Clinched It:
    - Summer Pudding

    - Blueberry Pie, Classic Pâte Brisée, and Vanilla Custard Ice Cream

     

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    Gina ChersevaniMIXOLOGIST Gina Chersevani, PS 7’s (Washington, DC)

    When Gina Chersevani first started experimenting with cocktails, she found DC was still a bourbon on the rocks town at heart. But her cucumber martinis went over well enough and she continued to push the envelope. With her enthusiasm and bubbly personality, it was easy for Chersevani to coax customers into trying her newfangled drinks. She played an instrumental part in elevating the craft of bartending in DC at a remarkably young age, and her drive and community consciousness have everyone sitting up and listening. At PS 7’s she works side-by-side with Chef Peter Smith, creating and promoting cocktail and food pairings. She can be seen in her polka-dotted apron at most industry events, flower in hair, explaining with a quasi-religious fervor why a certain flavor combination works, and how much she adores making the house-preserved sour cherries and limoncellos that pepper her cocktail menu.

    The Drinks that Clinched It:
    - Mulberry Street: Bulleit Bourbon, House-made Meyer Lemon Limoncello, and Sour Cherry

    - Bell’anguria: Knob Creek Bourbon or Gin, Frozen Watermelon Water, Lillet, Dolan Blanc, and Simple Syrup

     

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    Stefan TrummerMIXOLOGIST Stefan Trummer, Trummer’s on Main (Virginia)

    For Austrian-born mixologist Stefan Trummer, the restaurant biz runs in the blood. It was only natural then that he fell in love with the creativity of mixology and the interaction that goes hand-in-hand with service. With his wife Victoria, Trummer opened Trummer’s on Main a little over a year ago in sleepy Clifton, Virginia on the outskirts of Washington DC. Though they’re still newcomers, Trummer’s cocktails show a maturity and ease that comes with experience. Never afraid to experiment, he nonchalantly puts things like blue corn and smoked vanilla bean to use like they were the most natural cocktail components in the world. And should you ever ask him why his cocktail is called The Reefer, you might see the trace of a mischievous grin peek through that polished professional demeanor. It’s that sense of fun that infuses all of his cocktails.

    The Drinks that Clinched It:
    - The Reefer: Ron Zacapa Centenario 23-Year-Old Rum, Fresh Mint, Virginia Honey, Angostura Bitters, Barboursville Brut, and Bouquet Garnis Steeped in Absinthe

    - Blue Corn: Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Grand Marnier, Blue Corn Consommé, and Saigon Cinnamon-Madagascar Vanilla Bean Smoke

     

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    Greg EngertSOMMELIER: Greg Engert, Birch & Barley (Washington, DC)

    Greg Engert traded in the tweed jacket with corduroy elbow patches of an academic life for a tall, frosty pitcher and started delving with academic fervor into the nuances of beer instead of fiction. The culmination of all that hard work can be found at Birch & Barley and ChurchKey, where Engert shows serious love for his artisanally crafted beers and the enhanced culinary experience they achieve. He has built a temple to beer in what’s mostly a wine city. At Birch & Barley each beer is lovingly stored in temperature and humidity-controlled rooms to showcase its unique aroma and flavor profile, with one room for light-bodied beers, one for medium, and one for full-bodied. What is perhaps the most remarkable is the user-friendly way in which the beer menu is arranged. Instead of going by geographical area, he arranges them by their key characteristic—spicy, fruity, hoppy etc.—ensuring that every diner will be able to find something to their liking, and that every dish and dessert from Kyle Bailey and Tiffany MacIsaac has an ideal partner. Engert is the first beer sommelier to win a Rising Star Award.

    Tips for the Sommelier:

     

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    Carlton McCoySOMMELIER: Carlton McCoy, Sou’Wester (Washington, DC)

    Carlton McCoy is one of a new breed of sommeliers who fulfills multiple roles, designing both the wine list focused on classic regions and varietals with a few surprises and eclectic choices and the cocktail menu for Sou’Wester (that touches on the house-made mixers trend without being ruled by it) with offerings like rhubarb-orange and lavender syrups. He is also assistant manager and dedicates his full attention to flawless and approachable service, never losing his grace and humility. Though he’s a Riesling nut, he’s always focused on putting the guest’s preference first, offering alternate wine and beverage pairings, with an increasing focus on fortified wines. When he’s not busy with his three full-time jobs, he spends his spare time traveling and populating his wine menu with newly-discovered gems from his trips. Last year’s Careers through Culinary Arts Program event honored him as one of its most accomplished front-of-the-house graduates. We couldn’t agree more.

    Tips for the Sommelier:

     

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