‘Best Chef’ Kevin Tien Pledges to ‘Stand Up For What’s Right’ at 2023 RAMMYs

Chef Kevin Tien (formerly of Moon Rabbit) accepted Best Chef at the 41st annual RAMMY Awards

The restaurant industry and foodies who love it came together for the 41st RAMMY (Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington) Awards at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The highly anticipated annual event was not only a celebration of professional excellence, but a chance to appreciate the community, give accolades to years of service, and recognize how the industry is changing.

This year included five categories entirely voted on by the public — from choosing finalists to winners — broadened categories for more inclusivity, and even introduced Best Bar to recognize the city’s nightlife establishments.

In one of the most poignant moments of the evening, Kevin Tien, Chef and owner of the recently shuttered Moon Rabbit, was awarded Chef of the Year. (It was reported that the restaurant and hotel parted ways over a unionization attempt.)

41st Annual Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington Awards

“I’ve had a lot of time to really think about things in the past month — I’ve got a lot of free time now,” Tien said. “And I think this award says ‘Chef of the Year,’ but… it’s not just me being a chef, it’s my team supporting me. We’ve had a lot of highs and we’ve had a lot of lows. It’s the community that’s been there for me.”

“This is just the start of doing a lot of things on my own terms,” he said. “I promise that by receiving this award I’m going to be working as hard as I can to support my staff, support the community, and stand up for what’s right.”

In advance of the night’s anticipated awards announcements, Honorary Milestone RAMMY Award recipients were given, including Filomena Ristorante (40 years), The Grill From Ipanema (30 years), Old Europe (75 years), Cafe Milano (30 years), Jaleo (30 Years), National Democratic Club (70 years), Artie’s (45 years), Four Sisters (30 years), and Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse (75 years).

An artist paints during the opening reception of the 41st Annual RAMMY Awards

Michael F. Curtin Jr., Chief Executive Officer of DC Central Kitchen, was lauded with the John G. Laytham Exceptional Leadership and Impact Award, and Ris Lacoste, owner of Ris Restaurant and longtime DC Chef/business owner accepted the Association’s Duke Zeibert Capital Achievement Award for her excellence and community leadership.

“We work like dogs, we’ve been to hell and back ten million times, but we love what we do — I know I love what I do. This is indeed a lifetime achievement,” Lacoste said.

And now… the 2023 RAMMY Awards Winners are (*denotes publicly voted category*):

Joan Hisaoka Allied Member of the Year: Saval Foodservice

New Restaurant of the Year: Causa/Amazonia

Cocktail Program of the Year: Service Bar

Beer Program of the Year: Shelter

Wine Program of the Year: Reveler’s Hour

Rising Culinary Star of the Year: Marcelle Afram, Shababi Palestinian Rotisserie Chicken

*Favorite Gathering Place*: Tiki on 18th/The Game Sports Pub

*Best Brunch*: Urban Roast

*Best Bar*: Exiles

*Favorite Fast Bites*: RASA

*Hottest Sandwich Spot*: Compliments Only

Employee of the Year: Nabil Moussa, Le Diplomate

Manager of the Year: Brittany Dye, Circa Foggy Bottom

Service Program of the Year: Lutèce

Casual Restaurant of the Year: Pennyroyal Station

Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year: L’Ardente

Pastry Chef or Baker of the Year: Teresa Velazquez, Baked and Wired, A Baked Joint

Formal Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year: Xiquet by Danny Lledó

Chef of the Year: Kevin Tien, Moon Rabbit

Restaurateur of the Year: Rose Previte, No White Plates: Compass Rose, Maydan, Kirby Club