(Feb. 8, 2019) The public can nominate their favorite bars and restaurants in 11 categories until Wednesday, Feb. 20, through the Restaurant Association of Maryland’s 65th annual Stars of the Industry Awards, which recognizes the best establishments in the state.

“The awards are recognizing the stars of the hospitality and food service industry. It’s a celebration of the best of the best throughout the state of Maryland,” Kimberly Schlosser, marketing and events coordinator for the Restaurant Association of Maryland, said. “It’s a state-wide recognition, so nominees and finalists can receive this accolade no matter where in the state they are. This is not just a Baltimore- or Ocean City-based award. It recognizes nominees state wide.”

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Votes will take place in March until April 1.

Nominations will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 20 at marylandrestaurants.com/gala. Nominations first opened on Wednesday.

“Any candidate has potential to win the award they are nominated for by the public,” Schlosser said. “From that pool of nominations that are publicly decided we narrow that down to the finalists and then the voting is done by the public as well.”

Categories include Chef of the Year, Craft Brew Program of the Year, Favorite New Restaurant, Favorite Restaurant, Favorite Bar or Tavern, Heart of the Industry, Allied Member of the Year and Restaurateur of the Year.

This year, two new categories have been introduced; Maryland’s Favorite Fast Casual Restaurant and Maryland’s Favorite International Cuisine. This category recognizes the best international cuisine restaurant, not the cuisine itself.

After the nomination process, public voting will be open from early March to April 1, online and on Facebook.

“This is giving credit to the hard-working professionals in our industry that might not get an accolade on a daily basis,” Schlosser said. “This is showcasing the dining public’s desire for who their true favorites are. We want to give credit to those who are doing a fantastic job throughout our state and give them the rewards they deserve.”

Winners will be announced on Sunday, May 5, at the Restaurant Association of Maryland’s Stars of the Industry Awards Gala at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore from 5-10 p.m. The theme is “Back to the 80s” and will feature live music from 80s cover band, The New Romance.

“We anticipate more than 650 [members] from our industry attending this year,” Schlosser said.

Last year, the awards were held in Ocean City for the first time, with Ocean City restaurants winning 10 awards, include three Ocean City-only categories specifically created in celebration of the event being held in the resort.

For more information or to nominate a restaurant, visit www.marylandrestaurants.com/gala.

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