6 Restaurant Awards To Showcase Your Skills

Almost every industry has their own marks of quality.  Often these marks are awards, with the winners judged on various standards by experts. The restaurant industry is no different and the UK has a variety of different bodies which give out kudos to those providing great dishes, dining experiences and service.  If you’ve been streamlining your organisation and automating your process with Pilla, now is the time to repurpose some of those magical hours into improving your business. Researching the most appropriate awards for your business and writing an application is a great use of time. Winning awards can be hugely exciting and rewarding to the owner, the managers and of course the staff.  A big win can precipitate a busier business, with more punters looking to see what all the hype is about. According to the Best Business Awards, small businesses can see a 63% boost in income, along with a 39% growth in sales after winning an award.

So what awards should a restaurant in the UK seek to win? Here’s six restaurant awards to take a look at.


Michelin Star

The Michelin Star is a legendary award.  Given to restaurants for outstanding cooking, the judges take into account the quality of ingredients, the balance of flavours, the standard of techniques and how the chef’s personality is expressed within the cuisine itself.

The award started in the guide books, that have been produced by the French tyre company, Michelin since 1900.  Initially, the guide awarded up to three Michelin stars for excellence to a select number of establishments, but more recently the restaurants Le Cinq, Le George and L’Orangerie the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris have been collectively crowned with a total of five Michelin stars.

Michelin guide reviewers are anonymous, so that a chef is never aware they are being critiqued for star qualification. This way chefs are being judged for the way they serve food on a regular basis, not just when they are serving a VIP or critic. Michelin does not reveal their specific criteria with how they award stars, but restaurants have to be located in one of the countries the company operates.

Everything from politeness of serving staff to the creativity and quality of the food, along with the overall ambience of a restaurant are taken into account. Restaurateurs can enhance their chances of being considered for a star by paying attention to every detail of their establishment. It isn’t just food that impresses the reviewers but the entire package.

To earn one star, it’s advised that chefs produce their dishes to the highest standard and show a “mastery” of their craft.  The menu should show personality which makes it stand out against those which surround it. If your food is almost exactly identical to the place next door, you have little to no chance of snagging that trophy.  For two stars, you really need to concentrate on the quality of the ingredients themselves, ensuring that your source is unique.  Your consistency has to be on point too. Two star Michelin restaurants are inspected once a month, one star restaurants are once a year.  For three stars, your restaurant has to nail what it does for one and two stars, but also go above and beyond with an even higher level of creativity.

As of the 2022 edition of the guide, 1,284 businesses hold Michelin stars in Great Britain and Ireland, with 164 restaurants having one star, 22 restaurants having two stars and only 8 holding three.

Since the mid 1950s, the guide also gave out the Bib Gourmand award, which celebrates “exceptionally good food at moderate prices”. Restaurants that hope to win a “Bib” must offer menu items priced below a maximum determined by local standards. In the UK, that amount is £28 or less and as of the 2022 edition of the guide, 194 restaurants have won this award.

In 2020, the guide launched the Green star award. This green star celebrates “excellence in sustainable gastronomy” and gives a winning restaurant room on the Michelin website for the chef to describe their creative vision.

Michelin stars are obviously coveted, but there are drawbacks. By trying to win an award and stay consistent, you may find that the chef’s inventiveness can be limited in some ways. There are various controversies surrounding the guide favouring French cuisine and showing a leniency towards Japanese food too. Additionally, the cost of maintaining certain standards within the restaurant can limit the profitability. When Belfast-based restaurant Deanes lost their star due to a flood, they found that they were able to make higher profit margins when the restaurant was rebuilt, due to not having to hamper their earning potential. As a manager, you’ll have to figure that out yourself.

Read more about the Michelin Awards.


National Restaurant Awards

The National Restaurant Awards are the UK’s biggest restaurant awards. It is a comprehensive list that sees its judges travel to all corners of the country, Scotland, the north of Ireland, Wales and England, perusing both big establishments in cities and more hidden away joints in remote villages.  2022 was the first year which saw a restaurant outside of England nabbing the top spot, with the Japanese-influenced Welsh restaurant, Ynyshir being praised for its “fun dining, not fine dining”.

The National Restaurant Awards have various categories, celebrating both up and coming establishments, restaurateurs and chefs, to those who have had a lifetime of success. Like Michelin Star it has its own sustainability award, but it also pays tributes to restaurants for their selection in wine and cocktails or just for having great service.

In recent years, the awards have been criticized for showing a favouritism towards London-based eateries, which may have encouraged the judges to look further afield and start paying attention to   new restaurants opening around the UK.

Read more about National Restaurant Awards.


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AA Rosette Awards

Around about the same time Michelin launched their guide, the UK’s Auto-mobile Association had their own booklet. The Association was founded in 1905 and a few years later they launched a guide which signposted decent accommodation and places to dine. In 1912, secretary Stenson Cooke adopted the star rating system used for rating brandy to classify hotels. By the mid 1950s, this system was used to award restaurants for excellence as well and is a tradition that is carried on today.  AA prides itself on having a team of inspectors with an “unrivalled wealth of experience”.

Like Michelin, AA has a five-star rating system.
– One rosette is given to the chefs who have mastered basic techniques and produce dishes with a clarity of flavours.
– Two rosettes are handed out for innovation, higher level of technical skill, consistency and balance of ingredients.
– Three rosettes are for restaurants which have impressive have technique, flair and imagination displayed in every meal, whilst balance and depth of flavour are expected to be incredibly high.
– Four rosettes should see exemplary technical skills but the ingenuity and bravery of the chefs is expected to pay off.
– Finally, five rosettes are reserved for those with the highest grade of technical skill. It is a supreme accolade given to the chefs which can combine flavours and textures with a truly faultless balance, giving each plate its own dimension.

Whilst perhaps not as prestigious as the Michelin or a National Restaurant Award, being of a standard high enough to win a Rosette is certainly an admirable feat and one that is likely to garner some good publicity. Additionally, since 2020, the AA Restaurant Guide quite controversially stated that restaurants wishing to be included needed to pay an annual fee of £180, or risk losing their rosettes.  In return, the company would continue to provide its “valuable service” to the restaurants involved.

Read more about AA Rosette Awards.

British Restaurant Awards

The British Restaurant Awards (BRA) is a customer vote driven awards competition, which has all the usual categories you would expect with a restaurant-focused award ceremony; the UK’s top restaurants, chefs and service staff all have the opportunity to get applauded.

Competition voters are readers of Chelsea Monthly magazine, The National Post, Luxury Weekly and viewers of VooVix.com. They can vote between 20th January right up until 23rd April and can nominate their favourite restaurants per city, or UK region. Those with the most amount of nominations are shortlisted and get put up for the public vote.

It was set up in 2018 and has an annual red-carpet awards show sees the winners announced.  Big names such as Jamie Oliver, Levi Roots, Ainsley Harriot, Gordon Ramsay, Gino D’Campo, Heston Blumenthal were all up for the 2022 top chef award, but it was escorted home by Italian gourmand, Aldo Zilli.

Read more about the British Restaurant Awards.


Local and Specialist Awards

Almost every region of the UK has their own set of food and restaurant awards

Scotland has both Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards, along with Food Awards Scotland.  It’s worth noting that both these awards have categories for cafes, bistros, gastro pubs, takeaways, chippies, and various world, vegan or ethnic food.

The establishments of Northern Ireland will get celebrated in the Irish Restaurant Awards, The Food Awards Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Food and Drink Awards and even Hospitality Ulster.

Whilst the National Restaurant Awards will cover both England and Wales, there are smaller specialist competitions.  The Welsh Asian Food Award pays tribute to the best Indian, Bangladeshi, Chinese and Fusion food joints.  Similar to this are The Golden Chopsticks Awards which recently let the world know just how good the Belfast-based Welcome is at plating great Chinese grub.


The Great British Pub Awards

Whilst pubs and drinks have their own awards, there is of course a little bit of overlap of restaurants and pubs, particularly gastropubs, so it’s maybe worthwhile looking at “the Oscars of the pub industry”, The Great British Pub Awards. Recognising and rewarding the finest pubs, to put “bums on seats and pride in teams” across the country, the event occurs once a year and even has its own livestream feed.

Categories include pubs for food, garden pubs, sports to watch, city/urban pubs, pubs for family, pub chefs, young pub chefs, community heroes and even chefs for dogs!   Additionally, brewery-owned chain pubs will choose their own champions, so you know just which Greene King is the best on the planet.

Read more about The Great British Pub Awards.


Choose the right award for you

Now you know more about the top awards for restaurants, it’s time to sit down and think about which award is most suited to your business. It might take you a while to position your operation which you think is ready for the award so the sooner you start the process the better. It can be hard work to achieve that award but it could also be the making of your business! Good luck.

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