When judging establishments in the Awards for Excellence, the RACES Judging System is used. To view a copy of the Restaurant & Catering Assessment Criteria click on the link below:
WHAT IS THE R.A.C.E.S MODEL?
The Restaurant and Catering Evaluation System (RACES) consists of two divisions with 66 criteria in the Fine Dining division and 55 criteria in the Informal and Casual Dining division. These criteria were identified from a large survey of diners. There was a follow-up survey which identified how important each of those criteria was to the whole dining experience. The results of this second survey identifies the weighting for each criterion. These figures have been fine tuned in two consequent smaller surveys.
The advantages that this process has over other restaurant evaluation processes are:
- a consist rating scale is applied to all criteria
- a universal scale is used to enable intra-category and inter-category comparison
- there is a unique weighting for each criterion
- judges receive substantial training prior to participating
- standards for making judgements are consistent
- standards for making judgements are reviewed annually
- the process of evaluation is completely independent of Restaurant & Catering
- the evaluation process has in-built safeguards for the moderation of results
THE RATING SCALE
The system uses a six point rating scale (0 – 5) where, for the establishment being assessed relative to the spectrum of all establishments on each of the criteria:
0 means the criterion is not being met at all by that establishment
1 means the criterion is being met satisfactorily by that establishment
2 means the criterion is being barely satisfied by that establishment
3 means the criterion is being clearly satisfied by that establishment
4 means the criterion is being satisfied very well by that establishment
5 means the criterion could not be satisfied any better by any establishment
Establishments are rated on each criterion, its performance being compared to set standards. These are based on the single judging experience of the judge on a specific evening.
THE UNIVERSAL SCALE
The universal scale means that the rating scale accommodates all establishments on each of the criteria. It is this factor that will allow cross-category comparisons within each division. To enable this comparison, standards are set at each level of the rating scale for each criterion.
This technique produces a universal scale within each division so that inter-category comparability can be attained and awards across categories, such as for the Restaurant of the Year, can be made. Comparisons across the divisions are not as reliable or valid.
In a separate survey, a weighted factor was determined for each criterion to allow for what people thought were more significant criteria in the whole dining experience.
The weighted factor for each criterion is multiplied by the rating on that criterion. The sum of all these products will give the restaurant its total assessment. This process has proved to be reliable, valid and consistent.
The strength of the RACES process is that professional judges need training in only the rating system, one scale is applied to all criteria. This is where consistency of data is obtained. Other restaurant evaluation systems have experienced difficulty with using varying scales for different criteria.
Judges are chosen by the Chair of Judges and Restaurant & Catering based on specific criteria including:
- strong interest in food and wine
- not an employer or employee in the hospitality industry
- an ability to apply criteria-referenced judgments
- high professional credibility and personal integrity
Each judge receives comprehensive training to ensure universal understanding of the judging system which provides consistency across all categories.
The training for a judge consists of:
- an introduction to the system
- clarification of the process used
- establishing the standards for making judgments on each of the criteria
- a restaurant visit where both the process and standards are discussed
- a debriefing session on the restaurant visit with explanations
STANDARDS FOR MAKING JUDGMENTS
The consistent application of standards is an essential feature of the RACES system. The standards are all listed in a separate document and the main focus of all training is to develop a good understanding of those standards.