After a year most people in the hospitality industry would like to forget, the best of Canberra was recognised at the annual Australian Hotels Associations ACT awards on Monday night.
OTIS Dining Hall won best restaurant, and owner and executive chef Damian Brabender said while it was always good to be recognised, the award was a testament to the resilience of his staff and the industry as a whole.
"It has been a tough year and we've had to try some different things, our chef's table, our takeaway, other bits and pieces during lockdown," he said.
"But we've all stuck together, we were lucky we could keep all our staff, and our customers have remained loyal.
"Our restaurant is many things to many different people and it's nice to receive this recognition."
QT Canberra won three awards. Executive chef Josh Smith-Thirkell won best chef, Capitol Bar and Grill won best steak and Shannon Craig won accommodation division member of the year.
"It feels so good to take out the best chef award after such a tough year where chef's all across Canberra have been forced to innovate how we source produce and present dishes," Smith-Thirkell says.
"I'm also so excited to say that Capitol Bar and Grill reclaimed our title as the home of Canberra's best steak at the awards, a testament to the team and their commitment to delivering the best for our customers."
Craig said she was proud to take home the member of the year award.
"It's an acknowledgement of my team's strength and determination to get us through the toughest year the accommodation industry has ever faced," Craig says.
"We have worked hard on delivering new and unique experiences to entice guests to stay a little longer in Canberra, spend and support the entire hospitality industry."
The Dock won best traditional pub, inn or tavern and best sporting entertainment venue.
Co-owner Ben Alexander said The Dock prides itself on being a sports bar and had won that award for a few years now.
"But to win best pub as well this year was really nice and special after what's been a tough year for not only us but the whole industry," Alexander said.
"It's great to see people getting out and about again, enjoying a meal and a drink."
Molly won best late-night entertainment venue.
Doma Hotels took out several top awards, winning across three categories with Hotel Realm winning best conference and functions venue and deluxe hotel of the year. Little National Hotel won superior hotel of the year.
Doma Hotels director of hotels, Patrick Lonergan said the prestigious awards hailed hotels and restaurants that demonstrated outstanding services, accommodation, entertainment, food and beverage.
"We are overwhelmed and delighted with the recognition of achievement by the AHA. It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our hotels and restaurants," Lonergan said.
Best wine list was awarded to The Braddon Merchant at Midnight Hotel. Midnight Hotel also won best new or redeveloped venue.
Jeremy Magan (Pialligo Estate), Jocelyn Mustard (The Statesman), Jess Arena (Lala Hospitality), Rudy Kalele (Iconic Hotels) and Richard Watkins (Bentspoke Brewing Co.) were also individually recognised.
More than 450 people attended the event at Pialligo Estate, where 28 awards were presented.
Australian Hotels Association ACT branch general manager Anthony Brierley said the event was a celebration of the industry's resilience through the past 12 months.
"This gala dinner and awards night was a celebration of this industry's perseverance and its dogged resilience," Brierley said.
"For 12 months in the face of crippling coronavirus restrictions, these venues and their employees have been single-minded in their pursuit of survival.
"More than any award the AHA could provide, the industry's survival through the past 12 months is testament to its excellence."
Mr Brierley encouraged Canberrans to continue to support the local hospitality industry and the 13,000 jobs its provides.
The AHA is a member organisation representing hospitality businesses across the country. The awards were not presented in 2020.
Best food and beverage talent (general division): Jeremy Magan, Pialligo Estate.
Best food and beverage talent (accommodation division): Jocelyn Mustard, The Statesman.
Best sales and marketing talent: Jess Arena, Lala Hospitality.
Best revenue talent (accommodation division): Rudy Kalele, Iconic Hotels.
Best traditional pub, inn or tavern: The Dock.
Best wine list: The Braddon Merchant, Midnight Hotel.
Best late-night entertainment venue: Molly.
Best TAB venue: Olims Bar & Bistro, Mercure Canberra.
Best sporting entertainment venue: The Dock.
Best cocktail, lounge or small bar: The Highball Express.
Best conference and functions venue: Hotel Realm.
Best beer quality, draught: Siren Bar and Restaurant and King O'Malleys (joint winners).
Best beer quality - craft/local: Bentspoke Brewing Co.
Bartender of the year: Cameron Abercrombie, Zaab, and Rohan Walsh, The Highball Express (joint winners).
Best new or redeveloped venue (accommodation division): Midnight Hotel, Autograph Collection.
Best new or redeveloped venue (general division): The Inn, Edgar's.
Mid-range hotel of the year: Mercure Canberra Belconnen.
Superior hotel of the year: Little National Hotel.
Apartment/suite hotel of the year: East Hotel.
Deluxe hotel of the year: Hotel Realm.
Best casual dining venue: 1882 Bar & Grill.
Chef of the year: Josh Smith-Thirkell, QT Canberra.
Best restaurant: OTIS Dining Hall.
Best steak: Capitol Bar & Grill, QT Canberra.
Best burger: Grease Monkey Braddon.
Best pub eatery: Siren Bar and Restaurant.
Accommodation division member of the year: Shannon Craig, QT Canberra.
General division member of the year: Richard Watkins, Bentspoke Brewing Co.