The 2016 Elby awards were ostrich eggs from Lutz Farm, emblazoned with the annual event's signature chef logo. Richmond magazine hired Big Secret to create the laser-engraved, custom award.
A standing-room only crowd of more than 500 guests turned out for the fifth annual Elbys, the Richmond region’s restaurant awards, hosted by Richmond magazine at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on Sunday evening.
Named after master chef Chef Paul Elbling who now oversees the French Food Festival, the Elbys honors the work of Richmond chefs, restaurateurs, servers and purveyors. This year’s awards ceremony and reception were themed “Elbys en Blanc,” a tip of the hat to the worldwide Diners en Blanc and the VMFA’s Rodin exhibition. The locally sourced awards, laser-burned ostrich eggs from Lutz Farm, were created by Richmond-based laser artisans, Big Secret.
Judges named Owen Lane, of Vagabond, Chef of the Year. Lane opened Vagabond in November. He had co-owned The Magpie in Carver for nearly four years with his wife, Tiffany Gellner. With 20 years of restaurant experience, Lane also worked at Helen’s before opening his own restaurant. Known for his love of game and making charcuterie, he is known in some circles as "Richmond's Sausage King.”
Dutch & Company was named Restaurant of the Year. Michelle Shriver, Caleb Shriver and Phil Perrow opened Dutch & Company in January 2013 in Church Hill. Both Caleb Shriver and Perrow are former Elby Rising Star winners, and Dutch & Company has previously won an Elby for its beverage program, overseen by Michelle. The trio recently opened Stroops Heroic Dogs, a handmade hot dog joint.
Saison was an Elby double-winner for Cocktail Program and Beer Program.
Jason Alley of Comfort and Pasture received the Lifetime Achievement Award for “helping to shape the Richmond dining community, dedicating himself to the betterment of Richmond cuisine, and supporting fellow chefs and restaurants.” Alley has been called Richmond’s de facto “food ambassador,” representing the city at festivals nationwide, in the media and through his use of locally made products.
Other winners were:
Best New Restaurant: Southbound Opened between Nov. 1, 2014, and Oct. 31, 2015
Server of the Year: Michael Verner of Heritage
Purveyor of the Year: Manakintowne Specialty Growers
Baker or Pastry Chef of the Year: Evrim Dogu of Sub Rosa Bakery
Rising Culinary Star: Will Longoria of The Rogue Gentlemen
Wine Program: Barrel Thief Wine Shop and Cafe
Grab and Go: The Dog and Pig Show
Culinary Students of the Year: Katy Anna Harris, Culinard; Nick Shipman, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
More than 45 local industry professionals, food writers and culinary instructors selected nominees. Awardees were chosen by separate panels of judges, all from outside Richmond. No full-time staffers of Richmond magazine were involved in the nominating or judging process.
Judges included food editors and writers from places such as Eater, Saveur and The Daily Meal, representatives from the Association of Food Journalists, cookbook authors and magazine editors from publications such as Beer Advocate, food writers from major daily publications in Tidewater and North Carolina, teaching chefs and staffers from Johnson & Wales University, and D.C.-based and Charlottesville-based hospitality and wine professionals. The panelists visited the restaurants independently of one another in January and February.
Event sponsors included Performance Food Group, Rappahannock Oyster Co., Cavalier Produce, Milton’s Local, Richmond Region Tourism, Sperity Real Estate Ventures, Restaurant Depot, Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association, Virginia Linen Service, Virginia Wine Board, Adams Burch, Doubletake Video and Virginia Grown.
Community reception partners included Taste the Local, Tap 26, Reservoir Distillery, Steady Sounds, VMFA, Culinard and J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. Net ticket proceeds from the event benefit the nonprofit Shalom Farms, Slow Food RVA, Tricycle Gardens and the VMFA Foundation.