Cuisine magazine has announced the highly anticipated list of New Zealand restaurants to be included in its annual Cuisine Good Food Guide, with 108 restaurants – a further eight in addition to the traditional 100 – making the list this year for the first time.

Of the top 108 list, restaurants which have achieved Cuisine’s coveted traditional ‘hats’, along with the category winners, will be announced during the Cuisine Good Food Awards (CGFA), at 8pm on 25th November at cuisine.co.nz.

The Awards, now in its 15th year, acknowledge the very best restaurants and chefs nationwide and produce the Cuisine Good Food Guide, which showcases outstanding places to eat and drink across the country.

“Cuisine’s commitment to finding the best dining experiences is stronger than ever, and the increase in restaurants on this year’s list reflects the growing high standard and quality of New Zealand restaurants,” says Kelli Brett, Cuisine editor and co-director.

“The Cuisine Good Food Guide will provide food lovers with a terrific overview of the talents behind the restaurants that are pushing the envelope in New Zealand.”

Cuisine earlier this year announced a refresh of its traditional Awards; with the top 108 list to be split into hatted restaurants determined based on an evolved judging criterion, accompanied by an additional list of ‘ones to watch’, restaurants that demonstrate a high standard and are definitely worth a visit.

The magazine traditionally employs a rating system in which restaurants are awarded 1, 2 or 3 ‘hats’. To be awarded one hat in 2019, a score of 16 – regarded as ‘great’ – is required. To receive the most prestigious accolade of 3 hats, a restaurant will need to be considered ‘extraordinary and approaching perfection’, with a score of 19 or 20; previously achieved with a score of 18.

Lead assessor Kerry Tyack says that compiling the 2019 Guide has been as challenging as in previous years, not least because the goal posts have been set higher to ensure exceptional excellence shines above the rest.

“This year we have taken particular note of those restaurants which have recognised and acknowledged that not only should we be informed, but that dining out should be entertaining and fun. To all those who are included in this year’s Guide, our congratulations.”

“Those who have made the Cuisine Good Food Guide this year have truly found their niche, deliver consistency and tell their story loudly and clearly.”

Kelli points out the notable rise in specialised restaurants and evolution of the dining experience in this year’s list.

“The emergence of more specialty restaurants dedicated to telling a particular story of history and culture through their food has been wonderful to watch this year. New Zealand still does informal dining extremely well and fine dining has become a little looser and more relaxed, while still delivering a seamless experience.”

“New Zealand can provide a special and emotional experience through its food and although dining in New Zealand is hard to define, the constant is an ability to present excellence across a diverse menu.”

It was also revealed that Cuisine will this year recognise the highest-achieving restaurants in 13 categories, including the highly coveted Restaurant of the Year and Chef of the Year awards, to be announced via a new digital Awards format. Traditionally celebrated at an evening event, the Awards will this year take place via online streaming hosted by Kelli and Kerry.

“We’re very excited to be able to share the Awards with Kiwi food enthusiasts and allow them to celebrate alongside our winning chefs and restaurants,” says Kelli. “We’d love for hospitality industry members and food lovers throughout the country to gather to watch the Awards and celebrate with us.”

Cuisine selects over 40 experts located around the country, led by Kerry Tyack, to determine the top list via anonymous judging throughout the year.

The Cuisine Good Food Awards is the only nationwide restaurant awards programme of its kind. Now independently owned, the annual awards are viewed globally as the authority on the dining scene in New Zealand.

The awards are supported by a group of premium companies that are committed to investing in and recognising the hard work and achievements of New Zealand hospitality professionals.

This year’s partners are Cardrona Distillery, Epicure Trading, Estrella Damm, Kenwood, ?ra King, Pamu, Pead PR and San Pellegrino, whom Cuisine would like to thank and acknowledge for their continued support.

For more information on the Cuisine Top 108, regional breakdowns, full list of awards, and information on viewing the awards online, visit www.cuisine.co.nz

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