- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 6, 2003

WASHINGTON, March 6 (UPI) — Nominations were announced Thursday at Citronelle restaurant for this year's RAMMYs, the coveted awards of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, an association established in 1920 to unite restaurateurs of the national capital area.

Citronelle Chef Michel Richard, winner of last year's Chef of the Year and Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year awards, opened the ceremony. "I have cooked in Santa Fe, New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, but Washington's restaurant scene is the greatest," he said. "We are all the best of friends; it's a wonderful place to be. In LA we used to hate each other. I hate you, too, but I don't say anything," joked the popular Frenchman who has just received his American citizenship, to wide applause.

More than 150 applications were submitted for whittling down to five in each of nine categories. Winners will be chosen by the public through a ballot to appear in The Washington Post and online at the association's Web site, ramw.com. They will be announced at the Restaurant Awards Gala at the Marriott Wardman Park on June 22.

Nominees for New Restaurant of the Year were Chef Geoff's Downtown, Firefly, Poste, Zaytinya, Zola; for Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year: Equinox, Galileo, Marcel's Vidalia, and Kinkead's. Nominations for Casual Dining Restaurant of the Year went to Carlyle, Nathans, Kaz Sushi Bistro, Lebanese Taverna, and Rocklands Barbecue & Grilling. Chef of the Year nominees are Jeff Tunks of DC Coast and TenPenh, Todd Gray of Equinox, Kazuhiro Okochi of Kaz Sushi Bistro, Robert Weidermaier of Marcel's, and Cesare Lanfranconi of Ristorante Tosca.

Nominations for Pastry Chef of the Year went to Joslyn Bergmann, 1789 Restaurant; Rita Garruba, Butterfield 9; David Guas, DC Coast/TenPenh; Chris Kujala, Kinkeads; Didier Derouet, St. Regis Washington.

Rising Culinary Star of the Year nominations went to Jamie Leeds, Chef de Cuisine, 15 Ria; John Wabeck, Executive Chef, Firefly; Peter Smith, Executive Chef, Vidalia; Robert Brown, Chef de Cuisine, Ristorante Tosca; Cliff Wharton, Chef de Cuisine, TenPenh; Wine and Beverage Program of the Year nominations were given to Citronelle, Zaytinya, Zola, Kinkead's and Caf Atlantico, while nominated for Industry Ambassador of the Year were Fanco Nuchese, Caf Milano; Dany Abi-Najm, Lebanese Taverna; Paolo Sacco, Ristorante Tosca; Michel Richard, Michel Richard Cintronelle; Gus DiMillo, Passion Foods Hospitality.

Paul Cohn of Capital Restaurant Concepts won this year's Duke Zeibert Capital Achievement Award for his contribution to the restaurant industry and for his role in bringing the capital's new Convention Center to completion.

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