Iberica Leeds: A spotlight on the fine-dining Spanish restaurant and nominee for the Oliver Awards 2022

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Leeds is leading the way with speciality cuisine, from takeaways offering hearty vegan grub to restaurants serving the finest steak.

And the Yorkshire Evening Post is searching for restaurants that offer exemplary food and innovative menus to enter into the Best Speciality category at the Oliver Awards 2022.

The awards are the 13th hosted by the YEP, celebrating all that Leeds' food and drink scene has to offer.

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Industry experts will judge a range of categories, picking their shortlists and eventual winners which will be announced at a ceremony at Queens Hotel on March 28.

Enric Garriga, head chef at Iberica (Photo: Simon Hulme)Enric Garriga, head chef at Iberica (Photo: Simon Hulme)
Enric Garriga, head chef at Iberica (Photo: Simon Hulme)

Among the early entries for Best Speciality is the family-run Indian restaurant chain Aagrah, Kuala Lumpur Cafe in Headingley and Spanish tapas restaurant Ibérica.

Ibérica's marketing manager, Holly Richardson, said coming away with the award would be a big boost for the team, led by Michelin-starred executive chef Nacho Manzano and head chef Enric Garriga.

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Holly said: "The food and drinks scene in Leeds is bustling, with more and more amazing venues popping up.

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The Oliver Awards 2022 are the 13th hosted by the YEP, celebrating all that Leeds' food and drink scene has to offer.The Oliver Awards 2022 are the 13th hosted by the YEP, celebrating all that Leeds' food and drink scene has to offer.
The Oliver Awards 2022 are the 13th hosted by the YEP, celebrating all that Leeds' food and drink scene has to offer.

"It’s wonderful to see the city thriving, but that equally means we need to stay in the forefront of readers' minds, reminding them of how wonderful what we do at Ibérica is.

"We’ve worked with YEP on projects throughout lockdown, such as profiling our head chef Enric, and it was a pleasure to be featured.

"The award is well-recognised across the city, and we’d love to be able to add another new prestigious accolade to our restaurant mantel piece."

Restaurants have faced unprecedented adversity since the last Oliver Awards in March 2020 and Holly said it was more important than ever to celebrate the hospitality sector in Leeds.

"It's really been a tough couple of years," she added

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"Every single business in our industry deserves an award - for perseverance, innovation and finding their own way.

"Alongside the pandemic many restaurants have also been impacted by the effects of Brexit, with staff returning home while they were out of work and now unable to return to the UK.

"Many hospitality businesses relied on overseas employees, which since reopening have been very hard to sustain.

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"Opening back up the sector with smaller workforces and relying heavily on training fresh faces to the industry has been extremely challenging for those working in the businesses.

"They really deserve the praise and recognition for everything that has been done to bring the industry back to life and provide enjoyment for the guests that love to celebrate in our bars and restaurants."

Sponsoring the Best Speciality category is Elite Shopfitters Leeds, which offers restaurant refurbishment and bespoke shopfitting services for the catering industry.

With more than two decades of experience, the team offers a fully-tailored design and build service across the country.

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Owner Dave Belsham said: "We are a Yorkshire-based company who like to support its local businesses in the food and hospitality sector.

"We have supported and sponsored the event for many years now and believe it is imperative for local businesses to come together and support each other."

Entries can be submitted by businesses at www.oliverawards.co.uk before February 16.

Full list of categories:

- Best Cafe/Deli

- Best Gastropub or Brewery

- Best Brunch

- Best Local Produce

- Best Bar

- Best Speciality

- Best Family Friendly

- Best Use of Outdoor Space - NEW

- Sustainability

- Best Customer Service

- Newcomer of the Year

- Best Takeaway Offering - NEW

- Best Fine Dining Experience

- Chef of the Year

- Outstanding Contribution

- Overall Restaurant of the Year (all restaurants awarded at ceremony eligible)

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