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Hangover Observations From The 2011 Rammy Awards

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The Estadio team wins best new restaurant...
The Estadio team wins best new restaurant...

[Photos: Amy McKeever/]

Last night, the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington gave out its annual Rammy Awards and a lot of local chefs walked away with some big awards and a few firsts. Todd Gray finally won for chef of the year after several of being Susan Lucci'd. The Rammys saw its first-ever husband-and-wife wins earned by Kyle Bailey (rising culinary star) and Tiffany MacIsaac (best pastry chef). José Andrés speechified as only José Andrés can speechify while accepting his Duke Zeibert award for leadership in the DC restaurant industry. And then there were the parties.

1) The evening kicked off with a standing ovation for a lime-green-tie-wearing José Andrés, who began his acceptance speech with kudos to DC: "Much of who I am, much of what I am, I have to thank Washington for it." After giving thanks to his wife and his team, the chef went on to exhort the crowd of chefs to action: "As chefs and especially as restaurant people, we cannot be silent anymore. Hunger is an issue. We cannot be silent. Obesity is an issue. We cannot be silent. We cannot be blaming others. We have to be looking within ourselves to see how we can be part of the solution. This is not small restaurant owners versus big agri-business. This is all of us working together to end hunger and make sure obesity isn't going to be an issue in the years to come. So, we're in Washington. We're next to the most powerful people on earth. It's our mission to talk to our mayor, our president, senators or congressmen to make sure those important issues are heard in the Congress."

2) The people must really like Carmine's, which won both best power spot and the people's choice for favorite restaurant. With one of the Carmine's guys onstage in sunglasses, the owners of the New York transplant made sure to talk up DC in their speeches, thanking their landlord for bringing them here.

3) The Old Ebbitt Grill acceptance speech for visitors' choice: "We get this often, but it's nice every time."

4) Hans Olson, winner of best restaurant manager for Clyde's of Reston, was there in his kilt.

5) During her acceptance speech for best pastry chef, the Neighborhood Restaurant Group's Tiffany MacIsaac gave a touching thanks to her husband Kyle Bailey, saying he was "everything I could ever want in a husband and a boss." Minutes later, the Birch & Barley chef hit the stage, too, with a win for rising culinary star. His speech? "Thanks to everybody, especially Tiff who said some nice things and cried more than once tonight." Later, the couple kissed for the cameras in the media photo staging area, where Bailey joked it was the most they ever kiss.

6) The night's masquerade ball theme meant that a lot of presenters and winners were up on stage with masks still on — including the Tabard Inn winner, behind whom one could see Washington Post editor and presenter Joe Yonan presumably live-tweeting the win, along with approximately everybody else in attendance.

7) The Source's Scott Drewno was forced to hobble up the stage twice on a broken leg and crutches. Accepting the award for fine dining restaurant, Drewno joked that the guys from Bourbon Steak — his competition — broke his leg. He also explained that he hadn't brought his whole posse on stage with him because they were searching for the guy playing the stage exit music. Just after that win, Drewno was tapped to present the chef of the year award along with another previous winner, Robert Wiedmaier.

8) Todd Gray got a standing ovation for his win and brought his son Harrison up on stage while he accepted his win — for which Gray said he owed food writer David Hagedorn $100 for having bet against himself. The Gray family was easily the snazziest dressing family, with Todd in red pants and a black jacket, Harrison in black formalwear with a red bowtie and cummerbund and Ellen Kassoff Gray in a red dress and Cirque de Soleil mask.

9) There were five buffet-style tables representing four different countries or regions — Australia, Chile, Mexico and Nordic — plus a pavilion consisting entirely of sous-vide dishes like a 72-hour beef short rib and sliced beef served "carpaccio-style." Australia was serving up lamb shank pie, Chile had ceviche, Nordic had dishes like salmon and cloudberries with skyr, and Mexico was serving avocado salad, rib-eye tacos and a corn torte with creamed poblano rajas.

10) PS7's mixologist Gina Chersevani could be found at the sous-vide table mixing up Plymouth gin drinks made with fruity foams.

11) The dancefloor was at capacity and the band performed classics like "Stand By Me," "Billie Jean," "Love Train," and Pink's "Raise Your Glass."

12) After the party is the after-party and so the crowd slowly moved downtown to Proof, sister to best new restaurant winner Estadio. Owner Mark Kuller walked around liberally pouring wine for his guests from a magnum bottle, while trays of charcuterie, cheese and pintxos from Estadio were set around for snacking. The best sight by far were the partygoers pouring beer in one another's mouths via porron pitchers.

13) Word on the street is that Mike Isabella opened the doors of his brand-new Graffiato for the after-after-party...

· All Previous Rammy Award Coverage [-EDC-]

Old Ebbitt Grill

675 15th Street Northwest, , DC 20005 (202) 347-4800 Visit Website


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