Hawke's Bay's hospitality royalty turned out to recognise the best in the business at a glamorous ceremony in Hastings last night.
Individuals and establishments were celebrated for pushing boundaries and continuing to achieve success in their field.
Over the past two months industry workers, business owners, chefs, waiters, bartenders, baristas, suppliers and sales reps nominated and voted for the "most outstanding" finalists in 15 categories.
Now in their fifth year, the Hawke's Bay Hospitality Awards have a growing reputation and diners have begun to stand up and pay attention to the results.
"The Hospo Awards are getting a name for themselves not only in the industry but in the general public's eyes as well," event organiser Vicky Rope said.
"People like the fact that those in the know are putting their stamp of approval on particular places to eat, drink or socialise. We are delighted with the reaction."
While many only see the peasant side of hospitality, the awards shone a spotlight on those who worked hard behind the scenes.
"Gaining recognition for those glamorous and some not so glamorous jobs in the industry makes it all worthwhile for these people, the winners should be congratulated on a job well done."
In each of the categories, four deserving finalists came up against one another and in many cases, it was a close call, with just a few votes between them.
Ticket sales to the event at Hawke's Bay Opera House reached sell-out point with a crowd of over 300 hospitality industry staff in the audience.
This year Deliciosa Tapas & Wine Room, in Havelock North, stood out from the crowd, winning all five categories for which it was nominated.
"It's overwhelming," owner Sarah Watson said.
She had done nothing differently this year from last, when she had only been nominated for one category.
"I've just tried to be good at what we have been doing."
New Deliciosa restaurant manager Kim Davis jokingly said: "They get all all the credit and I'll just carry on."
Pacifica, in Napier, showed consistency with Jeremy Rameka winning outstanding chef and understudy Adam Lambert taking home emerging chef. For the third year running, they also won Outstanding Restaurant.
Opera Kitchen continued its reign as Outstanding Cafe and its barista, Ted Simpson, was named top of the coffee pots.
Favourites Clearview Estate Winery were awarded Outstanding Supplier/Sales Rep and Outstanding Winery Restaurant.
A new feature this year was the Outstanding Ethnic Restaurant, which was won by Master of India in Napier.
The evening focused on what it meant to be a part of the fast-paced, social and at times fussy hospitality industry.
All finalists were recognised equally, as were the winners, with the entire Hawke's Bay industry praised for reaching new levels of quality.
A special award was also presented for the first time in 2012.
The Lifetime Achievement Award for Service to the Hawke's Bay Hospitality Industry went to Basil Diack, for his 53 years serving up quality beer to locals.
Starting at his family owned Victoria Hotel in 1957, Diack made his mark on the industry by helping keep profitability up for small operators, in a large brewery-dominated environment.
Diack went on to be involved with the Meeanee Hotel and in 1995, became a shareholder in Hawke's Bay Independent Breweries.
He also helped to develop the Filter Room and is still very much involved in the business.
Friend and colleague Dennis Buckley, from Shed 2, presented Diack with the inaugural award. Wife Jan, son Darren and Daughter-in-Law Cossete were there to celebrate his achievement.
The winners of the 2012 Hawke's Bay Hospitality Awards are:
- Food Hawke's Bay Outstanding Chef: Jeremy Rameka, Pacifica Restaurant.
- Eftpos Specialists Front of House Personality: Sarah Watson, Deliciosa Tapas & Wine Room.
- EIT Outstanding Front of House Team: Deliciosa Tapas and Wine Room.
- Simply Squeezed Outstanding Café Experience: Opera Kitchen.
- GEON Outstanding Barista: Ted Simpson, Opera Kitchen.
- Restaurant Association Outstanding Winery Experience: Black Barn Vineyard.
- VJ Distributors Outstanding Local: Deliciosa Tapas & Wine Room.
- Grande Gourmet Outstanding Restaurant: Pacifica Restaurant.
- Sacred Hill Outstanding Supplier/Sales Rep: Lisa Clarke, Clearview Estate Winery.
- Restaurant Association Outstanding Winery Restaurant: Clearview Estate Winery Restaurant.
- Steinlager Pure Outstanding Establishment: Deliciosa Tapas & Wine Room.
- Regal Marlborough Salmon Emerging Chef: Adam Lambert, Pacifica Restaurant.
- Clearview Estate Best Ambience/Style: Pipi.
- Dhall & Nash Outstanding Wine & Beverage List: Deliciosa Tapas & Wine Room.
- Toops Outstanding Ethnic Restaurant: Master of India