Voting begins next week as the search starts to find the crème de la crème in Midlothian’s diverse food and drink industry.
Organised by the Midlothian Tourism Forum, with support from Midlothian Council, the award winners will be announced at a gala event at the National Mining Museum Scotland on June 9.
Now in their fifth year, the awards are decided by public vote. In 2014, more than 6500 public nominations were received and this rose to more than 10,000 last year.
Food and Drink Steering Group chairman Alan Gorrie from Loanhead-based caterers Deli-licious, said: “2016 will probably see the most amount of businesses take part in five years the competition has been run.
“We had a record amount of votes from the public last year and expect that to increase this year with the businesses realising how important winning any of these categories can be for them.”
Midlothian Councillor Jim Bryant (SNP) added: “The 2016 Midlothian Food and Drink Awards are set to be very exciting. With almost 12,000 votes cast last year we are expecting this to increase further. Food and drink is a key sector within Midlothian and worth around £12 billion a year to the Scottish economy.
“This is an excellent opportunity to celebrate and reward the hard work of our food and drink businesses over the past year.
“The awards are a great example of strong partnership working between Midlothian Tourism Forum, Business Gateway and Midlothian Council, backed by local business sponsorship.”
Steve Stewart from Stewart Brewing, said: “We put a lot of effort into getting the beer quality and the customer experience spot on here at Stewart Brewing. This award recognises all the effort that the team have put in over the year, and so we’re delighted to take part in the Midlothian Food and Drink Awards.”
This year there will be awards for Best Place for a Coffee, Best Place for a Pint, Best Customer Service, Best Cafe Lunch, Best Retaurant for Lunch, Best Place for Dinner and Best Place for a Takeaway. Candidates for the Best Producer category are self-nominated through an application process.
The nomination period runs from March 7 to April 24. As last year, voting can be done online via the tourism forum website – www.visitmidlothian.org.uk
The judges will be assisted in their deliberations by mystery judges who will visit the shortlisted businesses in the lead-up to the awards night.