by senior contributor Brendan Kownacki
Photo credit: Brendan Kownacki

“It’s a hard road being a chef in this industry, you always have to sacrifice for your art. So thank you everybody for putting up with working all the weekends and the holidays” said Chef Amy Brandwein, the newly minted Chef of the Year at this year’s RAMMY awards. “And to all the writers and journalists who always support all of us by writing about us, without them the restaurant industry would not be the same. Thank you for that. They have pushed us to do better and better; it may not be exactly what we want to hear all the time, but it is very much appreciated [their work] to examine what we do,” she continued. The chef who helms Centrolina in City Center was one of the evening’s big winners of the Restaurant Association.

Chef of the Year Amy Brandwein

Metropolitan Washington held its annual gala to celebrate food service in The District. From fast casual lunches to formal dinners, the RAMMYs celebrates it all in 21 categories over the last 36 years; giving a night of praise to the people who feed Washingtonians all year long. Categories include:

Rising Culinary Star of the Year: Gerald Addison and Chris Morgan, Compass Rose Bar + Kitchen
Beer Program of the Year: Owen’s Ordinary
Cocktail Program of the Year: Espita Mezcaleria
Wine Program of the Year: BOURBON STEAK
Casual Restaurant of the Year: Ivy City Smokehouse Tavern
Formal Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year: Masseria
New Restaurant of the Year: CHIKO

Kathy Hollinger, President of RAMW

With thousands in attendance including chefs, bartenders, service professionals and their fans, the delicious evening is a chance to pause and look at how DC has evolved from a steak and potatoes town into one of the most diverse and promising food scenes in the country.

The event had one big shadow looming over the entire evening though; the pending Proposition 77 which will be voted on in DC’s upcoming primary election. The ballot measure would eliminate the tipped minimum wage in Washington and create one universal wage for everyone…an issue that would greatly effect the service industry. The initiative has been a controversial one due to major support from forces outside of DC that have been lobbying for its passage, meanwhile here in DC, huge voices from across the hospitality industry have all stood together to oppose the measure and spreading a message that tips help keep service members fairly paid. 

Mayor Muriel Bowser

One of those huge voices is Mayor Muriel Bowser who showed up to the RAMMYs with a simple message: “So people say ‘Bowser, what are you doing on 77?’ and I tell them I’m not voting for 77 and you shouldn’t either.” The declaration elicited huge cheers from the crowd and she didn’t stop there. “Other than that I said, don’t ask me, ask the workers what they think.”

The Mayor was adamant that as long as people are spending money in restaurants and leaving good tips, this creates a system where restaurant workers have been able to support their families and quality of life and thus, the system needs no overhaul.

Early voting has already started but DC goes to the poll on June 19 and it sounds like the Mayor and the restaurant community have a pretty simple ask: Vote No. Do it for all those restaurants above where you get that ‘best of’ service all year long.

For more information regarding the winners of these awards, visit The Rammys.