Awards season: James Beard honors Patrick O’Connell with Lifetime Achievement + RAMMY nominations

Plus, Dudley’s Sport and Ale is now open in Shirlington—and more food world news.


“I’m living proof that you can hide out in a mountain village with a population of 133 and still be discovered and recognized by your peers. The power of good food should never be underestimated,” says Patrick O’Connell, the chef/proprietor of The Inn at Little Washington upon the announcement he’s the recipient of the 2019 James Beard Lifetime Achievement award.

The Inn has long be lauded for its warm, luxe service, genius creativity and patronage of local produce, gaining along the way royal fans, like those who wear crowns (the queens of England, Jordan and Spain and the king of Spain) and those who should (Julia Child, Jacques Pepin).

O’Connell, 73, won five James Beard Awards throughout his career and last year earned his third Michelin star. He’ll be presented his lifetime achievement award at the James Beard Awards gala on May 6, in Chicago.

Locally, this week the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington announced its 2019 RAMMY nominees.

Photo by Kalorama Photography

While DC dominates the categories, Northern Virginia earned nods for: Trummer’s On Main for Wine Program, Formal Fine Dining and Meagan Tighe as Pastry Chef;  B Side for Beer Program; Victor Albisu for Restaurateur of the Year, with his Taco Bamba Taqueria getting its own nod in the Fast Bites category; Ambar’s Clarendon location for Service Program; The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm for Upscale Brunch and Open Road for Gathering Place.

The awards only recognize members of the association, which critics say doesn’t fully encapsulate the breadth of the dining scene. Compare the nominees to the recent release of the James Beard semi-finalists (no membership required), and it’s crossovers are limited. Some of the most-lauded restaurants opt out of the local membership group. Rules within the award system favor a wide range of winners, and not just the hot young things: restaurants must be open for one or two years to compete in most categories, and winners cannot be a repeat finalist in that same category for five years.

This critique comes up every year. In a tweet in response to Washingtonian‘s Jessica Sidman’s rant, The Washington Post‘s Tim Carman, “I feel as if essays like this have become an annual ritual, like cherry blossoms in the spring. I wish @RAMWdc would change its rules so we could shelf this critique permanently.”

But, you can’t win if you don’t join. “Counterpoint: the operators who aren’t members already benefit from the work that RAMW does year-round for the industry as a whole. Let’s not give the nonmembers awards for it too. The ‘all industry’ awards already exist, annually, in each of your publications,” tweets Stephen Ball, a media and marketing specialist.

Fair or not, tickets are on sale for the RAMMY Awards Gala on June 30.

News, events, etc. 

North Gate Vineyards is now Walsh Family Wine, and it’s open in Purcellville. [Loudoun Times-Mirror]

Wanna buy a house with a hop yard? [Heritage Hops]

“Death” By Gumbo at RT’s in Del Ray is “definitely the way to go.” [Washington City Paper]

What should a restaurant do after a zero-star review from Tom Sietsema? Hire a chef.  [Eater]

More than three years in the making, Dudley’s Sport and Ale is now open in Shirlington. [Alexandria Living]

Apparently these vegan chocolate chip cookies are amazing. [Food52]

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