The Waikato hospitality industry acknowledged the outstanding abilities of its own with the announcement of the winners of the region's cafe and dining awards.

Presented by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand, Waikato Food Inc. and Lexis ComplyHub, the awards recognise the outstanding hospitality professionals who are making a positive impact on the region.

Known for its exceptional food in a relaxed, café environment, the People's Choice award went to Gather Foodhouse in Frankton.

Gather Foodhouse proved itself as people's favourite. Photo / Supplied
Gather Foodhouse proved itself as people's favourite. Photo / Supplied

The award for outstanding chef went to owner and head chef Ashleigh Brodie.

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After completing her training at Wintec, Ashleigh trained at award winning Melbourne café Top Paddock perfecting the art of eggs before working her way up to the position of sous chef.

Famed for its charcuterie platters in a riverside setting, new eatery Mr Pickles picked up two awards for outstanding ambience and design and emerging chef for Harriet Boucher.

Hamiltonians looking for great service should head to Gothenburg Restaurant, whose team picked up the accolade for best front of house team.

With more national restaurant awards than any other dining establishment in Waikato, Palate earns the title of outstanding restaurant where the team serve seasonal, top quality produce matched to an extensive wine list.

 Antipodes Outstanding Bartender, Alex Williams, Wonder Horse. Photo / Supplied
Antipodes Outstanding Bartender, Alex Williams, Wonder Horse. Photo / Supplied

Outstanding bar of the year and bartender accolades went to The Wonder Horse which serves up an array of tailored or classic cocktails, craft beer, wine, whisky and snacks.

Best café went to The Shack in the popular surf hangout of Raglan.

CEO of the Restaurant Association of New Zealand, Marisa Bidois, says: "The youthful and ethnically diverse population of Hamilton is creating a really exciting hospitality scene in Hamilton.

"As an industry it's so important that we take time out to celebrate our success and acknowledge our achievements," Bidois, says.

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"We believe it's important to shine a light on our industry and make sure we are recognised for the contribution we make to our community and economy."

"With all categories keenly contested, this year's winners truly exemplify what it means to be at the top of their respective categories."

All the winners: Meadow Fresh Outstanding Barista, Dove Chen, Grey Street Kitchen; Antipodes Outstanding Bartender, Alex Williams, Wonder Horse; The POS People Outstanding Front of House Team, Gothenburg Restaurant; Bidfresh Hamilton Outstanding Chef, Ashleigh Brodie, Gather Foodhouse; The Breeze Waikato 99.4FM Local Food Hero, Gus Tissink, Bidfresh Hamilton; Service Foods Emerging Chef, Harriet Boucher, Mr Pickles Bar & Eatery; Bidfood Hamilton Outstanding Café, The Shack, Raglan; Restaurant Association of NZ Outstanding Bar, Wonder Horse; OneMusic Outstanding Ambience & Design, Mr Pickles Bar & Eatery; Nova Energy Outstanding Suburban/Regional Experience, Cinnamon Café; Burns & Ferrall Outstanding Restaurant. Palate; The Recruitment Network Outstanding Caterer, Mavis & Co; Maurice Trapp Group Outstanding Sales Rep, Katrina Frost, Bidfresh Hamilton; Kerr & Ladbrook Outstanding Supplier, Bidfresh Hamilton.

The Verandah Cafe's winning toastie, Up to No Gouda. Photo / Tom Rowland
The Verandah Cafe's winning toastie, Up to No Gouda. Photo / Tom Rowland