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Russell Smith is a finalist for Chef of the Year. (Image: Courtesy The Source)
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And the 2019 RAMMY finalists are...

Last night, Washingtonians packed into the Hamilton Live and sampled food and drink from a few of this year's RAMMY contenders while they waited to hear who the finalists would be across 20 categories. Iron Gate and Trummer's on Main emerged big winners with three nomination nods, while Blue Duck Tavern, St. Anslem, Spoken English, Poca Madre, Daikaya, Roofer's Union, Ivy City Snokehouse and the Royal all picked up two.

For the most part, winners are chosen by an anonymous panel of volunteer judges (journalists, educators and food service industry professionals), but public voters get to choose the winners in four categories: Favorite Gathering Place of the Year, Upscale Brunch of the Year, Casual Brunch of the Year and Favorite Fast Bites of the Year. Votes can be cast online through April 30 at 5 p.m. The RAMW Executive Committee will also select the winners of the Joan Hisaoka Allied Member of the Year award and the Duke Zeibert Capital Achievement Award (announced in early April).

Of course, there is one caveat for all nominees in any category: they must be a member of RAMW to be eligible for RAMMY Awards. And once you win a category you are no eligible to be a finalist in that same category for the next five years.

The winners in all categories will be announced at the black-tie RAMMY Awards Gala on Sunday, June 30. You can see our coverage of last year's gala here.

2019 RAMMY Finalists

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.

  • Coastal Sunbelt Produce
  • Congressional Seafood Co.
  • Saval Foodservice
  • TriMark Adams-Burch
  • The Veritas Law Firm

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.

  • Arcadia Farm
  • Atlas Brew Works
  • Ayrshire Farm
  • Ivy City Smokehouse
  • 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.

  • Chloe
  • Kaliwa
  • Poca Madre
  • Spoken English
  • St. Anselm

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.

  • barmini by JoséAndrés
  • 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.

  • B Side
  • Caboose Tavern
  • Pizzeria Paradiso – Dupont
  • Republic
  • Roofers Union

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.

  • Cork Wine Bar and Market
  • Le Diplomate
  • Maxwell Park
  • minibar by JoséAndrés
  • Trummer’s On Main

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.

  • 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
  • Kwame Onwuachi, Kith and Kin

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.

  • Duke’s Counter
  • Open Road
  • 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.

  • Estadio
  • Seasons
  • The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm
  • The Source by Wolfgang Puck
  • Unconventional Diner

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.

  • Brookland’s Finest Bar & Kitchen
  • Casolare Ristorante & Bar
  • Compass Rose Bar + Kitchen
  • Maketto
  • The Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse

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.

  • CHIKO
  • Little Red Fox
  • Rasa
  • Shouk
  • Taco Bamba Taqueria

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.

  • Oscar Ardon, Doi Moi
  • Maria Contreras, Jaleo Crystal City
  • Valentine King, Hummingbird Bar and Kitchen
  • 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.

  • Dave Delaplaine, Roofers Union
  • Sabrine Marques, PassionFish Bethesda
  • Donna Seal, Oceanaire
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • All Purpose – Shaw
  • Bantam King
  • Bindaas – Cleveland Park
  • Maketto
  • Royal

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.

  • Centrolina
  • Iron Gate
  • 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.

  • Fabrice Bendano, Le Diplomate
  • Ana Deshaies, Unconventional Diner
  • 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.

  • Blue Duck Tavern
  • BOURBON STEAK
  • Rasika
  • The Source by Wolfgang Puck
  • 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.

  • 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.

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


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