Nominations opened yesterday for industry insiders to pick top hospitality providers for the ninth Hawke's Bay Hospitality Awards.
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 they ceased operating late last year.
Emporium Bar and Eatery manager Shayne Bird said he hoped their restaurant, which has won the award for Steinlager Pure Outstanding Bar since they opened in 2012, would be nominated in the category again this year.
"The first year it was great," Mr Bird said, "but the second and third years winning it was better because so many other places had just opened up."
Citing new establishments such as Monica Loves and Hugo Chang, Mr Bird said it had been great Emporium had held the award and that the industry had continued to "see us as the outstanding bar, and the leader in that [category]."
If Emporium was nominated again, Mr Bird said he had no doubt they would be up against the same bars again.
"It'll be great to see where we are one year on."
Despite the change in organiser, the awards voting process will be the same - only Hawke's Bay hospitality industry workers are eligible to participate, and they are able to nominate those whom they believe are the best in 13 different categories. When nominations close, the four establishments with the most votes become the finalists in each category, and the industry votes again for the "most outstanding" in their field.
"The big thing about the awards is you are judged by your peers, not a judge based on a single visit," Mr Bird said.
Restaurant Association event manager Vanessa Wallace said the only change between this year and previous years was that the association was able to "open up" the competition with national sponsors.
"This year, there will be more momentum and exposure with our wider networks," she said.
Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said it was imperative the hospitality industry recognised its champions, as it provided not only a peer benchmark for excellence but also served to give consumers valuable insights into the best places to visit.
Finalists will be announced on June 7, with an awards ceremony for the winners on July 4.