Nearly 400 Richmonders attended Richmond magazine's second annual Elby Awards this evening to honor excellence in the Richmond region's restaurant community. Named after the acclaimed Chef Paul Elbling of the former La Petite France, the Elby's are the only local event that recognizes and honors the work of local chefs and restaurateurs.
Kendra Feather was named 2013 Restaurateur of the Yea r for her leadership at her growing restaurant empire that includes Ipanema Cafe, Garnett's Cafe, and The Roosevelt. Dale Reitzer of Acacia Mid-Town was named Chef of the Year — he also took home this honor last year. Reitzer was a James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic in 2010 and 2011.
Mike Yavorsky of Belmont Food Shop is this year's Rising Culinary Star. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Yavorsky has worked with Manhattan chefs such as Floyd Cardoz at Tabla, Daniel Boulud at db Bistro Moderne and Café Boulud, and Scott Bryan of Veritas. Belmont Food Shop, which opened last fall, was named a a best new restaurant of the year by reviewers at the Richmond Times Dispatch and Richmond magazine.
The evening's other winners include:
• Fine Dining Restaurant: Lemaire
• Upscale Casual: Stella's
• Neighborhood Restaurant: Kuba Kuba
• New Restaurant: Deco Ristorante
• Cocktail Program : The Roosevelt
• Excellence in Service: Wendy Kalif at Bistro Bobette
Last fall, Richmond magazine solicited this year's Elby's nominations from 30 members of Richmond's food community including bloggers, cookbook authors, restaurant reviewers and food writers. A panel of nine judges not affiliated with Richmond magazine then visited the nominated restaurants, where they rated their dining experiences.
For the first time the Elby's also recognized a Culinary Student of the Year from each of the area's three culinary schools. The winners, as nominated by their schools, are Dayna Goodchild at Culinard, Stephanie Louise Boehles at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and Jean Marie Kennedy at University of Richmond's Center for Culinary Arts.
Brandon Fox, Richmond magazine's newly appointed food editor, and Jason Tesauro, Richmond's most gregarious modern gentleman, hosted the ceremony held in the Cheek Theater at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
The Heart of Glass after party, which included 10 food stations, local microbrews a signature "kaleidoscope" cocktail and 12 wines was sponsored by: Performance Foodservice, Bandazian & Holden, Richmond Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, Olli Salumeria, Adams-Burch, the Country Vintner, Retail Merchants Association, Auto-Chlor, Culinard, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, Taste the Local, University of Richmond, Maureen Massey & Co. LLC, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Rappahannock Oyster Co., International Gourmet Foods, RVA News, Coastal Sunbelt Produce, Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Linen Service, Steady Sounds, Virginia Artesian, Fruit 66, OpenTable.com and Virginia Grown.
Net ticket proceeds from the event will benefit the nonprofit Shalom Farms, Slow Food RVA, Tricycle Gardens and the VMFA Foundation.