Two local businesses are flying the flag for the Blue Mountains against Sydney's top eateries after being named as finalists in the 2014 Australia Restaurant and Catering Awards.
Monte's Pizza at Blaxland and Lindsay's Cafe at Faulconbridge were the only Blue Mountains businesses in the Sydney and surrounds region finalists announced earlier this month.
Lindsay's Cafe is up against 13 other eateries in the cafe restaurant category while Monte's will compete against three other businesses, including Hugos at Manly, for best pizza restaurant.
The awards nod was especially sweet for Lindsay's Cafe owner and head chef Cherin Johns after she was forced to close the business - located in the grounds of the Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum - for 10 days during the October 2013 bushfires. She was also evacuated from her own home in Grose Road, Faulconbridge.
"It was a scary time but that's when I saw the Blue Mountains community at its best too," she said.
"They were really helpful and they came back [as customers] after the fires in full force to help... I will be forever grateful for that because it puts food on my children's table. I can't speak highly enough of the people in this community."
Monte's Pizza owner Joel Tropiano paid tribute to his family and staff following the local landmark's recognition in the awards. The family business was established at Blaxland by Joel's parents, Nick and Brigitte, in 1988. Since taking over as owner, Joel and his wife Christina have expanded on this success, bringing a modern edge to the restaurant which now regularly attracts diners from around the region.
"I think what makes restaurants great is commitment, hard work and passion. That's what really sets apart the great places from the average ones," said Mr Tropiano.
The winners of the Sydney and surrounds region will be announced at a dinner on September 22. The awards are well-respected in the industry with more than 500 trained judges and 1500 entrants.