by Brandon Fox
Although VCU’s Gold Rush dance team wasn’t in attendance, the 2016 Elby awards, held by Richmond magazine, rocked the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in a sea of white. Although there were grumbles about the all-white dress code à la Sean "Diddy” Combs, the event has morphed into a kind of costume party with tennis players, astronauts, mummies and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in attendance — all inventive work-arounds to the task of finding white in February.
The ceremony began with a stirring rap by be-winged host Jason Tesauro that looked back at the previous year’s dining scene. In between awards, RVA Tonight’s Beau Cribbs, a Style Top 40 under 40 winner last year, emceed a version of Family Feud, pitting three terrified Richmond food editors — Karri Peifer of the Times-Dispatch, RVA News’ Stephanie Ganz and me — against Pasture and Comfort’s Michele Jones, Tuffy Stone of Q Barbeque, Rancho T and A Sharper Palate and Eat Restaurant Partners’ Chris Tsui. The industry folks trounced the food media.
Wine poured freely in the museum’s atrium afterwards, as did Reservoir bourbon, and as in years past, Culinard and J. Seargent Reynold’s Culinary Arts Program students provided the food, along with endless raw oysters from Rappahannock Oyster Co. After the festivities, attendees decamped to Vagabond, the officially designated after-after party.
Below you’ll find a list of the winners who took home this year’s lovely trophies made from luminous ostrich eggs from Lutz Farms etched by Big Secret.
Chef of the Year: Owen Lane, of Vagabond
Restaurant of the Year: Dutch & Co.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Jason Alley of Comfort and Pasture
Best New Restaurant: Southbound
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
Cocktail Program: Saison
Beer Program: Saison
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