The Elliot Awards

October 25 | 7 PM – The Hamilton Live

Celebrate and “Break Bread” at The Elliot Awards as we honor the legends, entrepreneurs and mentors who make an indelible impact on our industry.


Sasa Mahr-Batuz

Co-Founder, Barteca Restaurant Group

Sasa Mahr-Batuz is the co-founder and creative director of Barteca Restaurant Group, which includes the restaurant concepts Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant and bartaco. He is responsible for the brands’ ever-evolving innovation and oversees the distinct designs that have made the restaurants magnets for the style-conscious. Mahr-Batuz has been in the culinary industry for over 25 years and has worked with a variety of concepts ranging from Mediterranean restaurants in Portugal to renowned steakhouses in Argentina.

Andy Pforzheimer

Co-Founder, Barteca Restaurant Group

Andy Pforzheimer is the co-founder and former CEO of Barteca Restaurant Group and its two concepts, Barcelona Wine Bar and Restaurant and bartaco

A restaurant professional for 38 years, Pforzheimer became interested in the industry as a teenager and began his career washing dishes and microwaving fast-food Mexican. He took it up a notch two years into college, taking time off from attending Harvard University to live in France, serving a classic two-year apprenticeship in Burgundy. Upon returning to the U.S., he worked in kitchens across America under numerous notable chefs throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, including Jeremiah Tower at Stars (San Francisco, CA); Anne Rosenzweig at both Arcadia and the “21” Club (New York, NY); and Patrick Healy at Colette (Los Angeles, CA). He eventually moved to Connecticut, where he was the original food editor for “Martha Stewart Living” magazine.


Gail Simmons

Culinary Expert, Author, & Television Host

Gail Simmons is a trained culinary expert, food writer, and dynamic television personality. Since the show’s inception in 2006, she has lent her extensive expertise as a permanent judge on BRAVO’s Emmy-winning series Top Chef. Heading into its 15th successful season, Top Chef is rated the #1 food show on cable television. Simmons was previously head critic on Top Chef Masters and host of Top Chef Just Desserts, Bravo’s pastry-focused spinoff of the Top Chef franchise. She was also co-host of The Feed, which aired in 2014 on FYI.


Russ Bendel

President & CEO, Habit Burger Grill

In June of 2008, Russ Bendel was appointed chief executive officer of The Habit Burger Grill, based in Irvine, California. Prior to working for The Habit, Bendel joined The Cheesecake Factory in July of 2007 as president and chief operating officer. Beginning in June of 2001, Bendel worked at Mimi’s Cafe as president and chief executive officer. Prior to joining Mimi’s Cafe, he was president of Roy’s Restaurants, a joint venture between Outback Steakhouse and Roy Yamaguchi, noted celebrity chef from Hawaii in 1999. From 1995 until June of 1999, Bendel was a partner in the Outback Steakhouse franchise group in California. His other experiences include being the chief operating officer for El Torito Restaurants and Panda Express. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in hotel administration from Florida International University in Miami, Florida.


The Hamilton Live

600 14th St NW Washington, D.C. 20005

The Willard InterContinental

1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20004

Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20002


"Break Bread" at The Elliot Awards
Paula Benson
Event Manager

Restaurant High 
Emily Compagno
Client Relations Manager