By Nevin Martell
Photos: Elizabeth Parker
The ballroom at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel was packed with over 1,500 people last night for the 2012 RAMMY Awards. It was an evening full of surprises that got a kickstart when NBC4′s Tom Sherwood went off script to take pot shots at D.C. politicians. Restaurateur Jeff Black continued the streak during one of his three acceptance speeches (Upscale Casual Restaurant, Restaurateur, Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene) when he said, “It’s great to see respect being given to people that work in the business that do the long hard hours, not the bloggers… the real work.” Needless to say, the Twittersphere immediately lit up, and the dissection of his comments continues today.
The biggest upset of the night was undoubtedly when Mitsitam Native Foods Café, located inside the National Museum of the American Indian, took home the crystal statue for Casual Restaurant of the Year. It was the first time in the RAMMYS history that a museum café had been nominated.
Vikram Sunderam, executive chef at Rasika, received the most cheers when he picked up the much-deserved Chef of the Year award, though there was also hearty applause for Fiola’s New Restaurant triumph and Ed Witt’s Rising Culinary Star victory.
After the ceremony, attendees headed downstairs to sample sips and bites from Virginia, Spain, Australia, and Cuisine Solutions.
And the winners are…
Fine Dining Restaurant: Bourbon Steak
Upscale Casual Restaurant: BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant
New Restaurant: Fiola
Casual Restaurant: Mitsitam Native Foods Café
Chef: Vikram Sunderam – Rasika
Restaurateur: Jeff & Barbara Black – Black Restaurant Group
Pastry Chef: Fabrice Bendano – Adour
Rising Culinary Star: Ed Witt – 701 Restaurant
Restaurant Manager: Reagan Corbett – Jackson 20
Restaurant Employee: José Alex Medrano – B. Smith’s
Wine Program: Cork Wine Bar
Beverage Mixology Program: Estadio
Joan Hisaoka Associate Member: Adams-Burch
Duke Zeibert Capital Achievement Award: Anthony A. Williams
Honorary Milestone: The Tune Inn
Neighborhood Gathering Place: Café Saint-Ex
Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene: Black Jack
Power Spot: Founding Farmers – DC
Where Magazine Visitors’ Choice Award: McCormick & Schmick’s