THE 2014 Golden Plate Awards are in full swing, with the City of Greater Bendigo hosting a workshop for potential entrants on Monday morning.
Head judge and writer for the International Food, Travel & Writers Association, Kevin Moloney talked about this year's judging criteria and the benefits of the awards.
He said the awards offered owners the chance to have their restaurants and cafes assessed by leading hospitality professionals.
"We provide them with two sets of feedback ... it's like an audit," he said.
"There's always something they can do to make themselves even better and that's what we highlight in the reports."
He said this year the judging criteria had been altered slightly to reflect restaurateurs' growing tendencies to move away from traditional entree, main and desert offerings.
"We, as judges, have to keep abreast of changes in the industry," he said.
City of Greater Bendigo healthy communities co-ordinator Nerida Firman, who will judge the Healthy Choices award, said the need for healthy choices on local menus was pertinent.
"We have pretty terrible health statistics in the City of Greater Bendigo," she said.
"Almost two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese."
Ms Firman added that 30 per cent of people ate four or more meals out per week - with the most prevalent meal being lunch.
She said the need for healthy choices on menus - which were clearly identified through labeling - was therefore a necessity.
"Consumers want to find a way of identifying healthier choices," she said.
"We'll be looking for options that include lots of fruit and vegetables, sensible portion sizes and limited salt."
The Golden Plate Awards were established 11 years ago but have only been running in Bendigo since 2012.
Nominations for the 2014 competition are now open.
To nominate your favourite eatery or for more information go to www.goldenplateawards.com.au