Alexandria's Michael Babin's Neighborhood Restaurant Group and Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong's Eat Good Food Group are finalists for this year's RAMMY "Restaurateur of the Year," award, according to the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.
The RAMMYS, handed out in June, are something like the Oscars of the DC region's culinary world.
The "Restaurateur of the Year" nominees "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."
In addition to the Armstrongs and Babin, others in the category for "Restaurateur of the Year" are:
- José Andrés and Rob Wilder - ThinkFoodGroup
- Gus DiMillo, David Wizenberg, Jeff Tunks - Passion Food Hospitality
- Mark Kuller - Doi Moi, Estadio, Proof
Restaurant Eve is also a finalist for "Wine Program of the Year." Todd Thrasher is the sommelier of the restaurant.
Several of Babin's restaurants are also finalists for RAMMYS this year, including:
Churchkey and Birch & Barley, both located in DC, are finalists for "Beer Program of the Year."
Port City Brewing Company, 3950 Wheeler Ave. in Alexandria, is also nominated for "Regional Food and Beverage Producer of the Year."
Votes in some of these categories can be cast online at washingtoncitypaper.com or ramw.org from March 27 – April 27.
Armstrong, perhaps best known as owner and chef at Restaurant Eve, in Old Town Alexandria, is a native of Dublin and just published his first cookbook, "My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant Eve" His Eat Good Food Group, which operates Restaurant Eve, Eamonn's (and Eamonn's A Dublin Chipper and TNT), PX, The Majestic and Society Fair.
In addition to the restaurants already mentioned as finalists, Babin's NRG owns numerous other restaurants in the area and is also involved in Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture. A second printing of its cookbook is expected to be published by April 1.
In addition to categories open to voting by the public, the selection process for the finalists, and ultimately the winners, involves a panel of volunteer judges, consisting of food and dining journalists, educators and foodservice industry professionals who remain anonymous to the public as well as each other.
The RAMMYS will be awarded June 22 in DC.