Courtesy of José Andrés

José Andrés

ThinkFoodGroup

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When you think culinary giant, you think José Andrés. His personality fills a room just like his cooking fills a restaurant. Though he could arguably be crowned chef of the year in any given year, 2016 proved unique for him because of his political influence, his Michelin recognition, and his “monumental” debut at MGM National Harbor.

Courtesy of Marjorie Meek-Bradley

Marjorie Meek-Bradley

Smoked & Stacked

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Top Chef finalist Marjorie Meek-Bradley made some big changes in 2016. After several years overseeing the kitchens at Ripple and Roofers Union, and bringing in awards for both, she decided to leave her posts to focus on her passion project. Smoked & Stacked opened in September to provide a much-needed infusion of pastrami to the city. The sandwich shop quickly became a favorite in the fast casual scene, and now Meek-Bradley plans to focus solely on the Shaw hotspot and develop new items for the menu. Judging by the meat coming out of her kitchen so far, expect big things in the future.

Restaurant Nora

Nora Pouillon

Restaurant Nora

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Organic pioneer Nora Pouillon announced her retirement this year. While it’s a huge loss for the DC restaurant community, her legacy will endure long after she serves her final meal. Since opening Restaurant Nora in 1979, Pouillon has been a champion for local farmers and sustainable growing. In 1999, she secured organic certification for her restaurant -- the first in the nation to do so. She was also the driving force behind the creation of DC’s first producer-only farmers’ market, FreshFARM Markets, and sits on the board of several environmental advocacy organizations.

Courtesy of Aaron Silverman

Aaron Silverman

Rose’s Luxury

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The accolades just keep coming for Aaron Silverman. This year alone, he added five feathers to his chef’s hat. Food & Wine named him one of 2016’s best new chefs, he won a James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic, and he earned three Michelin stars. The buzz surrounding his Capitol Hill hit, Rose’s Luxury, still hasn’t worn off, and now people can’t stop talking about his newly-opened Pineapple and Pearls, either. If all the love wasn’t so deserved, it would really be kind of annoying.