Top chef Aldo Zilli is to judge Scots restaurant awards

CELEBRITY chef and restaurateur Aldo Zilli will put finalists through their paces in the Scottish Italian Awards.

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Organiser Warren Paul, business development manager Michael Allen and vice chairman of Glasgow Taxi's Stephen Flynn with the branded taxi, and inset, Aldo Zilli Main Picture: Kirsty Anderson
Organiser Warren Paul, business development manager Michael Allen and vice chairman of Glasgow Taxi's Stephen Flynn with the branded taxi, and inset, Aldo Zilli Main Picture: Kirsty Anderson

Excitement is building around the second year of the contest, which has added extra categories, a bigger venue and the chance for winners to compete in a new UK-wide final.

Event organiser Warren Paul said: "We are delighted that Aldo Zilli has come on board as part of the judging panel.

"He is a well-known name and a fantastic chef, so it's great to have his support."

Aldo will judge the best pizza restaurant and best chef categories, putting the finalists in the latter through a 'Hell's Kitchen' scenario before announcing the winner.

Warren added: "Last year the chefs got to cook for the judges in their own surroundings - this time, we are asking them to recreate one of Aldo's dishes in front of him at the Cook School in Ayrshire. It's a fantastic opportunity for them - but it will be nerve-wracking."

The success of the Scottish Italian Awards - a capacity audience of 630 people attended last year's final - has prompted organisers to branch out.

The first English Italian Awards will be launched in Manchester next spring.

Warren said: "Our aim is to invite some of the Scottish finalists to compete against the English winners, with the aim of being crowned British Italian champions. It's a fantastic incentive for businesses to take part."

The 18 accolades up for grabs this year include best business, best marketing team and best fish and chip shop, plus new categories - best restaurant design and best deli.

Finalists are determined by public vote and the top five are visited, unannoun-ced, by the judging panel. Voting closes on September 10 and the winners are revealed on October 26 at Glasgow's Thistle Hotel.

Warren added: "We were overwhelmed by the response last year and are expecting this year's to be just as successful."

To vote, or for more information, visit www.scottishitalianawards.co.uk

Food and drink

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