The excellence of the region's cafes, restaurants, and wineries were lauded last night, when a large crowd of industry insiders gathered at Napier's Emporium Bar and Eatery for the announcement of the 2016 Hawke's Bay Hospitality Awards finalists.
Presented by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand, the ninth Hawke's Bay Hospitality Awards was about honouring and providing a platform to recognise excellence in the hospitality industry.
With record number of votes, this year's voting was close with some of the region's favourites such as the Common Room, Deliciosa and Emporium Eatery and Bar making multiple appearances as finalists across the awards' 13 categories.
The presence of newer establishments such as Bistronomy, Wright and Co, Maina Cafe and Georgia on Tennyson as finalists showed they were making a positive impact on the local cafe and dining scene, organisers said.
Restaurant Association CEO Marisa Bidois said for establishments to be selected by their peers as a leader in their category was a great honour in itself.
"I would say there would be few more credible then your own industry to decide who the best of the best is," she said.
This year will be the first hosted by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand, the organisation representing hospitality businesses, which took over the awards from Food Hawke's Bay when it ceased operating late last year.
The association is a not-for-profit and exists to support the hospitality industry, with all proceeds from awards night going back to serving and supporting the hospitality industry.
OneMusic deputy director Greer Davies, a new category sponsor, said hospitality and music had a symbiotic relationship, as hospitality people and musicians were passionate about what they did.
"OneMusic is pleased to support these awards for the first time this year. These awards are a wonderful way for the hard working hospitality industry to be recognised by their peers," she said.
The industry will now vote again for the "most outstanding" in their field, with voting starting today.
The awards ceremony will be held on Monday, July 4, at the MTG Century Theatre, followed by an industry celebration at Shed 2 in Ahuriri.
* For more information regarding the awards and to purchase tickets visit www.hawkesbayhospoawards.co.nz.