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RAMMY Finalists Announced, Chef Enzo Fargione Would Do Back Flips to Win

Rammy Nomination 2012 at the Ritz Carlton [Photo: Kat Lucero]

The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) announced the nominees for the annual RAMMY awards last night at the Ritz Carlton in Washington, D.C.

The bustling nomination party was attended by hundreds of top restaurateurs, chefs and key industry players; and catered by this year's finalists in the new restaurant and mixology and beverage program categories.

While many nominees commented that they overall felt great about being considered among the crème de la crème, chef Enzo Fargione joked that he was "going to do back flips" in order to attract more attention to his Penn Quarter establishment Elisir, which was slated to become one of this year's best new restaurants.

"But of course, I'm going to make sure I don't fall on my ass," he said. "But that'll also bring a lot of attention."

Jeff Black, whose two restaurants--BlackSalt in the Palisades and Pearl Dive Oyster Palace in Logan Circle--were both nominated in several categories, said he was "elated" to have his oyster-themed eatery on 14th Street considered as one of the best new restaurants. However, he noted that his four other fellow candidates--Elisir, Fiola, Graffiato and Hill Country Barbecue Market--were all different types of restaurants.

"I don't know how a judge is going to pick. It almost seems like we're in different categories," said Black. "[The list] is a very strong class."

Below are the rest of the 2012 RAMMY nominees:

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. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of two years by December 1, 2011.

The Ashby Inn & Restaurant
Bourbon Steak
Marcel's
The Oval Room
Rasika

Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year
The nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a high standard of dining excellence. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of two years by December 1, 2011.

Bibiana
Birch & Barley
BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant
Oyamel
Proof

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 1, 2011.

Bar Pilar
C.F. Folks
Hank's Oyster Bar and Lounge - DC
Mitsitam Native Foods Café
Room 11

Neighborhood Gathering Place of the Year
This nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a high standard of quality and congeniality rooted in its neighborhood.

Bastille
Bistrot Du Coin
Café Saint-Ex
Et Voila!
The Majestic

New Restaurant of the Year
A restaurant that must have been opened between December 1, 2010 and November 30, 2011 and already distinguishes itself as a pacesetter in food, beverage and service.

Elisir Restaurant by Enzo Fargione
Fiola
Graffiato
Hill Country Barbecue Market
Pearl Dive Oyster Palace

Chef of the Year
The nominee is an executive chef or chef de cuisine who demonstrates consistent standards of excellence and serves as an inspiration to other food professionals. The nominee displays a dedication to the artistry of food, exhibits an ongoing commitment to the community 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.

Anthony Chittum - Vermilion
Tony Conte - The Oval Room
Haidar Karoum - Proof
Kaz Okochi - Kaz Sushi Bistro
Vikram Sunderam - Rasika

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.

Justin Bittner - Bar Pilar
Logan Cox - Ripple
Claudio Pirollo - Et Voila!
Adam Sobel - Bourbon Steak
Ed Witt - 701 Restaurant

Pastry Chef of the Year
The nominee is a restaurant pastry chef who prepares desserts and pastries 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.

Cicely Austin - The Oval Room
Fabrice Bendano - Adour
Peter Brett - Blue Duck Tavern
Alison Reed - Ripple
Susan Wallace - BlackSalt Fish Market & Restaurant


Wine Program of the Year
The member restaurant 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. The nominated restaurant must have been in operation for a minimum of two years by December 1, 2011.

Adour
Cork Wine Bar
Dino
Marcel's
Plume

Beverage/Mixology Program of the Year
The member restaurant is distinguished by the quality, diversity, creativity, clarity and value of its beverage program. The nominee's beverage program best suits the cuisine and style of the restaurant while enhancing the restaurant experience. The nominated restaurant must have been in operation for a minimum of two years by December 1, 2011.

Bourbon Steak
EatGoodFood Group
Estadio
Neighborhood Restaurant Group
Room 11

Power Spot of the Year
This nominee is a top choice member restaurant, a spot to "see and be seen" with the movers and shakers on the national and local political and business scene. It best exemplifies "how Metropolitan Washington works."

701 Restaurant
Founding Farmers - DC
The Oval Room
The Source by Wolfgang Puck
Tosca Ristorante

Hottest Restaurant Bar Scene of the Year
This nominee is a member restaurant or hotel bar that is innovative with an energetic scene (atmosphere, drink menu, etc.) with a hip and eclectic crowd and is a great people watching and meeting place.

Black Jack
The Hamilton
Hill Country Barbecue Market
Mad Fox Brewing Company
Marvin

Manager of the Year
The nominee is a manager or general manager in the food service industry who displays the highest level of professionalism and leadership with a member business. 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.

Anna-Marie Ashe - Smith Commons
Daniel Bortnick - Firefly
Reagan Corbett - Jackson 20 Alex Munoz - Hill Country Barbecue Market
Javier Velazquez - Taberna del Alabardero

Employee of the Year
The nominee is a non-managerial employee of a member business who serves as a model employee by displaying outstanding service, an excellent work ethic and a positive image. This nominee must have been working in the food service industry for a minimum of three years by December 1, 2011.

Julie Albert - Brasserie Beck/Marcel's
Ting Forester - District Commons
Teo Leiva - Fiola
José Alex Medrano - B. Smith's
Paris Twyman - Founding Farmers - DC

Restaurateur of the Year

José Andrés & Rob Wilder - THINKFoodGROUP
Meshelle & Cathal Armstrong - EatGoodFood Group
Michael Babin - Neighborhood Restaurant Group
Ashok Bajaj - Knightsbridge Restaurant Group
Jeff & Barbara Black - Black Restaurant Group

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