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The District’s food trucks and Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, the group representing mostly brick-and-mortar establishments, haven’t always been the best of friends, especially during the contentious debates over new mobile vending regulations last year. But for the first time this year, the restaurant association has taken a baby step toward embracing four-wheeled eateries by adding a new category to its annual RAMMY awards for which (very few) food trucks will be eligible.
Restaurant Association Metropolitan had added seven new categories for this year’s awards, one of which is a publicly voted contest for favorite “fast bites.” Nominations are open to quick-serve spots, delis, coffee shops with food, and mobile food vendors.
“We wanted to make sure we are as inclusive as possible when we are asking for nominations,” says RAMW president Kathy Hollinger. “As much as we preserve the integrity of what the RAMMYs is and what the RAMMYs should be, we are evolving and really reflecting what we believe is the culture of this industry in the region.” Hollinger says she reached out to the DMV Food Truck Association to let them know about the new category.
But does a food truck actually have a chance at becoming one of the final five nominees? Yes, but perhaps not likely. To be nominees, food trucks would have to be RAMW members. Right now, RAMW has three restaurant members that also have food trucks that could be eligible: Think Food Group’s Pepe, Rocklands Barbecue and Grilling Company‘s eponymous truck, and Kushi Izakaya & Sushi’s Kushi-Moto (which has been off the road for several months but may return this year). Anyone can submit a nomination for any of the awards, and a group of anonymous judges will narrow down the entries to the final five nominees.
Other significant changes to RAMMY categories include:
1. Beverage and food producers are now eligible. That means distilleries, breweries, winemakers, coffee roasters, farmers, gelato makers, chocolatiers, bakers, and others have a shot at an award.
2. Best beer and cocktail programs are finally different categories. Previously, beverage-related RAMMYs awards included wine program of the year and “beverage/mixology program” of the year.
3. Brunch gets some recognition. The RAMW has added publicly voted categories for upscale brunch and “everyday casual” brunch.
4. No more power spot category. Hollinger says her organization surveyed members about what they’d like to see and “it just wasn’t one that came up as a repeat category.”
Anyone can submit a nomination for the RAMMYS at eatsdc.org/nominations by Jan. 29. Take a look at all the categories below. An asterisk means it’s new.
· Formal Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year
· Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year
· Everyday Casual Restaurant of the Year
· New Restaurant of the Year
· Chef of the Year
· Rising Culinary Star of the Year
· Pastry Chef of the Year
· Wine Program of the Year
· Cocktail Program of the Year (formerly Beverage/Mixology Program) ***
· Beer Program of the Year ***
· Service Program of the Year ***
· Manager of the Year
· Employee of the Year
· Restaurateur of the Year
· Regional Food and Beverage Producer of the Year ***
Publicly Voted Categories:
· Favorite Gathering Place of the Year
· Upscale Brunch ***
· Everyday Casual Brunch ***
· Favorite Fast Bites ***
Photo by Jessica Sidman