Kiri is a digital journalist for bayofplentytimes.co.nz.

Passion behind Tauranga's award winning eateries

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Rye - American Kitchen and Spirits head chef Ian Harrison has been named Tauranga's best in the Restaurant Association's inaugural Bay Hospitality Awards. Photo/George Novak.
Rye - American Kitchen and Spirits head chef Ian Harrison has been named Tauranga's best in the Restaurant Association's inaugural Bay Hospitality Awards. Photo/George Novak.

Tauranga's best bars, cafes and restaurants have been named.

The winners of the Restaurant Association's inaugural Bay Hospitality Awards were announced at a gala dinner held at Mills Reef Winery on Sunday night.

The awards attracted more than 3500 votes over 14 categories to determine the winners.

Ian Harrison from Rye - American Kitchen and Spirits was named outstanding chef. He said the awards were positive for the local industry and he looked forward to next year's event.

''I kind of hoped I would win it,'' he said.

The expat Brit moved to Tauranga almost a year ago after spending several years in Auckland. Mr Harrison, who is about to buy a house, said the award felt like reaffirmation of his move to the Bay .

Mr Harrison is also the brainchild and workhorse behind Bluebells, a fun pop-up restaurant in Tauranga's Wharf St Dining Precinct.

''If you believe in yourself, everyone will believe in you. Anyone can cook, but if you're passionate about it, that makes the difference,'' Mr Harrison said.

''This is the first year this has happened and that passion sets the stage and in Tauranga, it can only get better and grow from there. And if that happens, Tauranga can really get up there with Wellington and Auckland for dining out.''

The Barrios Brothers' Katie Short, who won outstanding bartender, said the awards were a great way of bringing the industry together and sparking inspiration.

I'm so incredibly over the moon. Having had this happen, I'm going to try to be better and better at what I do.
Katie Short

''It was honestly quite overwhelming. When you're just nominated and that you think 'oh, that's pretty cool'. But when everyone is sitting down applauding and I'm standing there with a trophy and thinking about what to say, it's incredible.

''I'm so incredibly over the moon. Having had this happen, I'm going to try to be better and better at what I do.''

Ms Short paid tribute to her fellow nominees who she said were amazing.

Flying Burrito Brothers also picked up two awards in the evening. All three restaurants were owned by the same person.

The event was organised by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand with the assistance of the Bay of Plenty committee, made up of seven local industry professionals.

Bay of Plenty branch president Andrew Targett said the awards were a chance to showcase the hospitality industry and reward those who excel in the industry.

Bay Hospitality Awards 2016 Winners:

1. Meadow Fresh Outstanding Barista: Joannes (Hans) Kraenzlin
2. Calnar Business Systems Outstanding Café: Love Rosie
3. Moana New Zealand Emerging Talent: Jessica Payne - The Pizza Library Co.
4. Bidvest NZ Outstanding Street Food: Johneys Dumplings
5. Menumate Point of Sale Outstanding Caterer: Good Things Kitchen
6. Lion Co Outstanding Bartender: Katie Short - The Barrio Brothers
7. Pernod Ricard NZ Outstanding Bar: Mount Brewing Bar
8. Menumate Point of Sale Outstanding Front of House Team: The Flying Burrito Brothers
9. Mills Reef Winery People's Choice: The Flying Burrito Brothers
10. Spark Business Outstanding Sales Rep: Dan Shea - Mills Reef
11. Independent Liquor Outstanding New Venue: The Rising Tide
12. Bidvest Tauranga Outstanding Chef: Ian Harrison - Rye - American Kitchen and Spirits
13. OneMusic Outstanding Design/Ambience: Macau Bar & Kitchen Lounge
14. Gilmours Tauranga Outstanding Restaurant: Harbourside Restaurant

- Bay of Plenty Times

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