The tenth annual Irish Restaurant Awards were launched by The Restaurants Association of Ireland this week in Chapter One Restaurant, Dublin.
The awards aim to showcase the true talent that Ireland’s hospitality industry has to offer by acknowledging outstanding performers in the sector. It is a five-month long process consisting of online public nominations, judging panels, mystery guest inspections and regional and national events. In 2017, the awards received 80,000+ online public nominations. This number is expected to grow even further with the continued support of new media partner, The Irish Times.
This year, there are 21 categories in which the general public can nominate. These categories are made up of 16 Main award categories, including an exciting new category Best ‘Free From’, and five National award categories. Main awards categories will each have county winners with the exception of Best Restaurant Manager, Best Emerging Irish Cuisine, Best World Cuisine, Best Café, Best Kids Size Me and Local Food Hero. These categories will announce regional and All-Ireland winners only. National categories will have one All-Ireland Winner only.
Main categories are as follows:
• Best Restaurant – Sponsored by Tindal Wine Merchants
• Best Chef
• Best Restaurant Manager
• Best Hotel Restaurant – Sponsored by BWG Food Service
• Best Casual Dining – Sponsored by San Pellegrino
• Best Gastro Pub – Sponsored by Coca Cola & Schweppes
• Best Newcomer – Sponsored by Elavon
• Best Customer Service
• Best Wine Experience – Sponsored by Classic Drinks
• Best Emerging Irish Cuisine – Sponsored by Odaios Foods
• Best World Cuisine
• Best Café – Sponsored by Illy
• Best Kids Size Me – Sponsored by Dubliner Cheese
• Local Food Hero – Sponsored by Rewarding Times
• Pub of the Year – Sponsored by Bushmills
• Best ‘Free From’ (NEW!) – Sponsored by Peroni Gluten Free
• Best Cocktail Experience
• Best Private Dining & Club Restaurant
• Best Cookery School – Sponsored by Avonmore
• Best Seafood Experience
• Best Digital Marketing
In the first stage of the judging process, online nominations are given a weighting of 20%, while the remaining 80% is made up from a regional judging panel assessment. Both of these results are combined and reviewed by an independent auditor (BDO) to give an overall county winner per category. These winners will be announced at a number of regional events held in March.
Each county winner then goes forward to the Regional and All-Ireland stage whereby they will then each receive a mystery guest inspection. They will be assessed on their menu, customer service, and the overall dining experience from the moment the booking is made until the customer receives the bill.
Speaking this week, Chief Executive of the Restaurants Association, Adrian Cummins said, "The aim of the Irish Restaurant Awards is to honour the hard-working people of the hospitality industry from cocktail makers, sommeliers and waiters to restaurant managers and local food champions. The restaurant industry is the biggest employer within the Irish tourism sector, employing over 74,000 people and these awards are a celebration and acknowledgement of the hard work put in by restaurateurs year round."