Industry Leaders? Check. Community Innovators? Check. Absolutely mouth-watering cuisine? Check, check, check!

On July 30th, the Washington Convention Center was the place to be, as the District’s hottest restaurants came out to play, mingle and wow at the 2017 RAMMYS.  A lucky few members of the CSI Washington, DC team were able to experience the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s biggest Awards night of the year, thanks to one of our generous restaurant partners, the newly renovated Hard Rock Cafe

Dressed in their black tie attire, our fearless crew entered the gala as first time attendees and with high expectations.  They were NOT disappointed.

A glitzy reception awaited the team where specialty bars stocked with local beers and wines were almost as enticing as the eclectic array of food stations.  An ode to the DC international culture, a buffet filled with sausages hailing from all corners of the world caused mouths to water.  A mezze station paired well with the local brews and vintages, while passed shrimp and corn quesadillas were a delicious comfort food addition.  However, the most sought after hors d’oeuvres of the night were hands-down the ‘Cherry Blossom’ phyllos.  The CSI team couldn’t get enough of those perfectly flaky phyllo puffs filled with juicy cherries and savory goat cheese.  Yum.

The impressive turnout was a mesh of industry partners, the local CVB, and restaurateurs, dressed in their dapper summer tuxes and gowns, and the atmosphere was one of positivity, engagement, and fun.  With so many guests, not all could make it into the Awards Ceremony that occurred right after the welcome cocktail reception.  There was no reason for our team to worry, because the event planners were prepared for this, and had erected screens in the cocktail area for guests to watch the winners take the stage. Check out all the 2017 RAMMY winners here – a ton of our favorites made the final cut this year!  However, with such tough competition in this community of culinary genius, being nominated as a finalist was a monstrous accomplishment as it is, and true testament to their success.

With the Awards Ceremony winding down, the CSI team proceeded to head upstairs for the next portion of the night. Stopping to strike a pose at the Step & Repeat, the experience proved to be a fun networking spot.  With no hired photographer, guests met and mingled, taking turns snapping pictures of each other.

In the hallways before the entrance to the main ballroom, several restaurants and vendors were poised and ready with samples, whetting the guests’ appetite for the dinner beyond.  Amongst the samplings, the CSI team enjoyed the cold brew coffee from Junius Cold Brew Coffee Company, the matzo ball chicken soup from Prescription Chicken (deemed the hangover cure chicken soup!), and sweet potato cakes from DC Sweet Potato Cake. With a love of learning the new offerings in the city, the CSI crew jumped at the chance to meet these new vendor partners!

Entering the ballroom for the main nosh event, the CSI team took a seat on plush furniture in the Hard Rock Cafe lounge.  With soft seating replacing the typical table tops and chairs, this unstructured format allowed for more networking opportunities, and sharing of ideas. The scrumptious strawberry lemonade cocktails crafted by Hard Rock Cafe, and their fresh signature salad, fueled our team to explore the many food and beverage pavilions located throughout the space.  Some notable dishes included fresh baked mussel station from French eateries; dumplings, spicy noodles and unique packaged marshmallow chocolate bars from a Korean-centric buffet; and flagrant Peruvian chicken, yucca, potato and seafood salad stuffed to the brim with colorful avocado.

The snapchats and instagram images were posted with rapid fire as every dish and cocktail warranted a share and to be remembered.  The event planners thought of this as well, building very cool charge stations to ensure guests could easily power up without hindering the experience.

As the last food station was visited, the music seemed to switch gears, prompting our team to move their way to the dance floor.  Spinning tunes to keep the partying going, DJ Neekola was a fan favorite that night!  The refreshing cucumber cocktail by Jose Andres served right on the dance floor also lent a hand in keeping the dance floor packed with happy event-goers.

Taste buds satisfied, new friends met, and dancing shoes worn in, our CSI crew’s evening came to a close.  A final touch to end the night, event planners provided a code for Lyft rides, so everyone was able to arrive safely, and happily, at home… with anticipation of next year’s RAMMYS dancing in their heads.