With the recent rebrand of the Restaurant Association of New Zealand, the Hospitality Awards are in for a facelift. The idea was to create a fresh and vibrant new branding for the awards which better reflects the industry it represents. The concept and design has been developed over the last 12 months with industry experts including Restaurant Association CEO Marisa Bidois, Brown Bread, McCarthy and members of the association. The task has fallen to National Events & Sponsorship Manager for the Restaurant Association, Vanessa Wallace, to deliver within the regions.

“The Associations vision for the awards platform is simple – to unite, grow and celebrate New Zealand’s hospitality scene,” Wallace told Restaurant & Café. “The Hospitality Awards have become the mark of peer recognition in New Zealand’s hospitality industry.”

The revamp of the awards will aim to provide a recognised symbol of excellence in the industry for consumers and visitors alike. The logo is in the shape of a Chevron – the concept behind the design is a line or stripe in the shape of a V or an inverted V, like one on the sleeve of a uniform indicating rank or length of service. The coveted Chevron is a colourful and shapely award, and winners can effectively earn their stripes.

The aim is to highlight the talent within the industry across the nation. “Last year Hawkes Bay hospitality owners, professionals and producers received many accolades,” she explained. “There are amazing chefs doing creative and groundbreaking things.” Christchurch is another culinary hotspot among many around the country.

A key part of Wallace’s job is to tailor the awards to each region ensuring that the local flavour is part of the local flavouring of each event. “We’ll liaise with local hospitality personalities to involve the culture of each region and to shine a light on the unique things they have to offer.” The Rotorua industry, for example, has a focus on manaakitanga, or Māori hospitality, while the Hawkes Bay will focus on the region’s wine culture. “Wellington is a vibrant culinary playground and is complemented with a huge wine and beverage experience,” said Wallace.

2018 will also see the introduction of the Queenstown and Waikato Hospitality Awards, as well as the return of the Taranaki Hospitality Awards, which have been on hiatus since 2013. “Taranaki are very proud of what they have to offer with so many talented operators and dedicated hospitality operators in the region,” Wallace said.

The consumer is also pivotal to the industry, and the peer-voted Regional Hospitality Awards will also feature a People’s Choice Award where the public can have their say. “Our aim is to have the Chevron as a recognised symbol for the public to assist in making their dining choices” explained Wallace.

Suppliers to the industry are key to the success of the events. “We are very lucky to have the support of our amazing partners, who are our industry’s greatest supporters, understand our people and want them to succeed,” said Wallace. “We cannot thank them enough and we simply could not do what we do without them.”