First NI Takeaway awards...is your favourite foodie a finalist?

One of the first high street casualties of the pandemic lockdown was the restaurant and hospitality sector, as their doors were forced to close to diners for safety measures.

Friday, 30th April 2021, 6:00 am
Anna Murphy, Dusan Kavcak and Alex Zoss from DK Service Global, Robin Elliott and Katie McTernan

However, as a truly resilient industry, chefs and their teams quickly adapted to ensure Northern Ireland foodies didn’t miss their fix of gourmet meals, with many establishments now offering takeaway and cook-at-home options.

This has radically changed the image and status of takeaway food in the last year, elevating it well beyond its traditional limits of pizza and Asian-inspired dishes.

And that is what inspired Andrew Benson and his fiancé Aine O’Kane to create the first NI Takeaway Awards. They want to celebrate the food heroes behind the scenes who have battled against the odds to keep the sector alive in the most challenging circumstances.

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Event Organisers Andrew Benson and Aine O'Kane with sponsors Dusan Kavcak and Alex Zoss

“We have previously staged the highly successful NI Fish and Chip Shop Awards, but like everyone, we had to adapt to the new Covid-safe regulations. With everything going on at the minute and takeaways being on the front line, we feel this is the perfect platform and time for our excellent food vendors to shine and get the recognition they deserve.

Andrew Benson, managing director of AB Events, said: “Our local takeaways are the heartbeat of our high streets. From incredible Indians to perfect pizzerias, every town has its food heroes. We are recognising the dedication of local takeaways across a multitude of cuisines and celebrating their contribution to our economy.”

The AB Events Team and a group of esteemed judges have been on a mission to find Northern Ireland’s favourite takeaways since the end of 2020.

With the finalists now selected, the competition is heating up ahead of the glittering gala awards ceremony scheduled for June in the Crowne Plaza, Belfast.

Anna Murphy, Alan McWhirter, Stacey Johnston and Katie McTernan

Event Sponsor Dusan Kavcak, Managing Director of DK Service Global, believes his company’s partnership with the NI Takeaway Awards underscores the food sector’s commitment to hygiene and safety: “DK Service Global is proud to sponsor this event. Our Omagh-based company has developed bespoke trademarked Protective Shield Technology to create safe and healthy environments for every facility, especially the food sector. We are working hard to help local businesses build confidence with their clients as consumers will recognise they have engaged the market-leading industry experts in the sanitisation field.

“These awards are an excellent opportunity to highlight all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to delivery brilliant food in a safe way.”

Other event sponsor partners include River FM, So Good Juice, 38 Expresso, EB Gas Services, BP Foods, iDesign, Duct Services, Butlers Event Hire, D Foods and One Delivery.

But the top-quality takeaway services now offered by local cafes and restaurants have provided more than just an economic boost. They have delivered a psychological lift to consumers in lockdown by keeping them connected to their favourite eateries.

Award-winning local food writer and awards ambassador Joanna Braniff continued: “Lockdown conditions during the pandemic have fundamentally changed the way

people think about how they source their food. The massive increase in demand for takeaway options in 2020/21 has forced the hospitality sector to change its operations.

“The image of the takeaway option has been rapidly elevated to a higher standard with gourmet venues now offering three-course meals for home delivery. Chefs and their teams must now be commended for how they have brilliantly adapted to the enormous challenges of replicating restaurant-standard food to be prepared at home. These awards are an opportunity to recognise this innovation, adaptation and quality chefs’ fantastic response to the crisis.

“It provides an excellent platform to highlight the great work of local producers and makers.

For many people during the lockdown, the weekend takeaway food treat has provided a much-needed psychological boost and tangible link to normality. However, I predict when lockdown lifts, food lovers will continue to want quality takeaway service, and this could provide an important increased revenue stream for the sector.”

Divided into 11 categories covering everything from catering vans to takeaway desserts and a Lifetime Achievement Award, event organisers Andrew and Aine are keen to give a broad scope of all aspects of the newly-expanded takeaway sector right across Northern Ireland.

Andrew added: “The competition is fierce because standards are so high, but we will be unveiling the overall winners in each category on June 21 at a much-anticipated gala event in Belfast’s Crowne Plaza. In our opinion, every one of the participants is a winner as it’s a real achievement to get this far in the competition. With the success and interest in the first NI Takeaway Awards, this proposed annual competition will go from strength to strength as it promotes the hospitality sector and reminds consumers of the amazing and resilient local food industry we enjoy while spotlighting the heroes behind the scenes that make it happen.”

Tickets for the awards finale are now on sale, priced at £85 per person, including a 4-course meal drinks reception and an evening of entertainment.

For more information, visit www.nitakeawayawards.co.uk

The NI Takeaway Awards finalists are:

The 38 Espresso NI Best Cafe/Deli Takeaway

Greenaway 9

The Giddy Goat

The Little Food Company

Saints N Sinners

Jens Deli

The Nook at house Proud Strabane

The One Delivery NI Best Indian Takeaway

Kinara Indian Cuisine

Curry leaf

Mama Masala Glengormley

The Khayber Glengormley

Mayur Indian Restaurant

Asha Tandoori Bangor

Tandoori Night

The DUCT Services/EB Gas Finalists NI Best Kebab Takeaway

Kebab House Lisburn

Sunny’s Ballymena

The Sphinx

Moghul 4in1 Carrickfergus

Turkish Kebab and Pizzeria Larne

JMJ - Kebab, Fish & Chips

D.Town Diner

The River FM NI Best Dessert Takeaway

Shakes Ballybeen

Zeroes

Oggies Dessert Bar

Yummies Bangor

Manhattan Milkshakes

Oh Crumbs, Cakes and Buns

Mo’s Sweets and Treats

The DK Service Global NI Best Newcomer Takeaway

Friday

Maghera

Maddie’s Chippy

Yer Coddin Me

Catch 202 Fish and Chips

Top Dawgs Takeaway

The BP Foods NI Best Chinese Takeaway

Stanley Takeaway

Jasmine Chinese Takeaway

Tsan Welcome (Moy Chinese)

Chan’s Chinese Take Away

Bamboo Garden Chinese Takeaway -Magherafelt

Golden Boat Cookstown

The River FM NI Best Pizza Takeaway

Taste of New York

NYPD Strabane

Fairhill Pizza

Fire and Stone Pizzeria

9th Avenue Pizza

Perfect Pizza

Texas State Pizzeria

The D Foods NI Best Fish And Chip Takeaway

The Jolly Fry’s Draperstown

Fridays Clady

Maguires Takeaway

Wheelers

Tempo chippy

Brendan’s Fish and Chips

Flash in the Pan Ballymoney

The Butlers Events NI Best Catering Refreshment Van/trailer Takeaway

Brie’s Coffee

Dinky Donuts Park Centre

Nickys Ices

Sequoia Coffee

Scotch and Soda

Manders Catering

The Butlers Events NI Best Catering Food Van/trailer Takeaway

Halls Chip and Grill

KJ Catering

MJs Chip Van

A Taste Of The Countryside

Bap It

Mas Country Catering

The So Good Juice NI Best Healthy Takeaway

Bebe Adrianos Mexicanos

Stanley Takeaway

Taquitos

The LittleMill Bistro

Yosi

Kanto

District

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