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Todd Gray is out $100. The acclaimed chef at Equinox took top honors as D.C.’s “Chef of the Year” last night at the 2011 Rammy awards gala at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Northwest D.C., an honor which apparently comes at a price. During his acceptance speech, Gray confessed to betting against himself and losing that gamble to former chef turned writer David Hagedorn. (Later, at an after-party, Hagedorn told Y&H that he was still waiting for his C-note.)
Earlier, chef Scott Drewno hobbled to the stage on crutches to accept “Best Fine Dining” honors on behalf of The Source by Wolfgang Puck, joking that the guys from rival nominee Bourbon Steak had broken his legs.
Restaurateur Mark Kuller, meanwhile, demanded that organizers turn off the wrap-it-music while accepting the crystal obelisk statue for “Best New Restaurant of the Year” on behalf of Estadio. Kuller continued to issue thanks ad nauseam even through the second round of nudging melodies.
Other winners: Husband and wife team Kyle Bailey and Tiffany MacIsaac both won for “Rising Culinary Star of the Year” and “Pastry Chef of the Year,” respectively, for their work at Birch & Barley. Taberna del Alabardero was honored for its wine; Founding Farmers for its beverage/mixology program. The Tabard Inn was named “Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year,” while the “Favorite Restaurant,” as voted by the public, went to Carmine’s, whose proprietor credited the eatery’s large portions. Carmine’s was also the people’s pick for “Power Spot of the Year.” Additional faves of the public: Chef Geoff’s at Tysons Corner for “Hottest Bar Scene of the Year” and Ted’s Bulletin for “Neighborhood Gathering Spot of the Year.”
Earlier in the evening, chef José Andrés was honored for career achievement, received a standing ovation and a lengthy video tribute. He jokingly apologized for the “commercial” to raucous laughter. “I didn’t pay for it!” he said.
Check back later for video from the red carpet.
Photo by Brooke Hatfield