Have your say in the NI Food and Drink awards

FOOD and drink lovers in Antrim and Ballymena are being invited to have their say in this year’s Northern Ireland Food and Drink Awards which are taking place next month to celebrate the resilience and growth of the sector across the province.

The awards, which are considered the most important awards in Northern Ireland’s business calendar, honour the work of our home grown producers and celebrate the contribution which the agri-food industry plays in our economy.

This year, Food NI, our region’s promotional voice for food and drink producers, are sponsoring two awards - The People’s Choice and Taste of Ulster Restaurant of the Year 2013.

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For The People’s Choice award, producers, from across Northern Ireland, have been asked to put forward the product which they feel deserves recognition and are now putting its fate in the hands of the public.

As well as that, independent inspectors for Food NI have been busy anonymously assessing Northern Ireland’s top restaurants to score their food quality, use of local produce and standards of service. The top 20 Taste of Ulster Restaurants, selected from independent assessors scoring, will be nominated for the public vote via social media. The restaurant achieving the highest level of votes will win the Food NI Taste of Ulster Restaurant of the year award for 2013.

Michele Shirlow, chief executive of Food NI, said: “This is the 12th Northern Ireland Food and Drink Awards and we are delighted to be sponsoring two categories. It has been great fun getting the nominations in. Food and drink producers play a massive role in our economy. We all love something nice to eat and drink and somewhere nice to dine out. But the public can now have their say on whether it’s bread or butter, yoghurt or ice cream or burgers or steak or, indeed whatever, which tickles their fancy, by nominating online.”

In Northern Ireland, over 100,000 private sector jobs depend on the success and continued growth of the agri-food sector which has an estimated turnover of £4billion.

To vote for your favourite produce and your favourite restaurant visit www.nigoodfood.com. Voting is open from Monday morning (February 25) at 9am and runs through til Friday, March 1 at 5pm.