New Zealand’s top restaurants and best chefs have been revealed last night at the highly anticipated annual Cuisine Good Food Awards, with the hospitality industry and foodies nationwide tuning in to hear the results of the country’s pre-eminent restaurant awards, via digital streaming at cuisine.co.nz.

Sid Sahrawat’s Auckland fine dining restaurant, Sidart has claimed Cuisine’s prestigious Restaurant of the Year award, gaining the coveted three hats: the highest of accolades for New Zealand restaurants.

The restaurant, known for its ‘art on a plate’ and contemporary Indian cuisine, was praised by Cuisine judges for its innovative and exhilarating menu.

“With the revamp of Sidart last year and a new look menu, which combines progressive Indian flavours with premium New Zealand ingredients to deliver the very essence of New Zealand on the plate, Sidart has become a restaurant that we can proudly showcase to the rest of the world as Aotearoa’s very best,” says Kelli Brett, Cuisine editor and co-director.

Cuisine Chef of the Year was awarded to Vaughan Mabee of Central Otago bistro and winery Amisfield, while Wellington stalwart Logan Brown received the accolade of Cardrona Distillery Best Metropolitan Restaurant.

“Vaughan works with his impressive team and a dedicated forager and experienced charcutier to hunt, gather and curate ingredients that tell the story of the Central Otago landscape. His three to seven-course feast is one of the most spectacular meals you can find in New Zealand at this moment,” says Kelli.

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.

Six of the category winning restaurants – Boulcott Street Bistro, Charley Noble, Hiakai, Logan Brown, Noble Rot, and Shepherd – are located in Wellington, while Napier’s Pacifica, Hawke’s Bay’s Prue Barton of Mister D, and Waipara’s Black Estate taking out P?mu Best Regional Restaurant, Kenwood Restaurant Personality of the Year, and Best Winery Restaurant respectively.

“It has been a tough year for the hospitality industry, particularly so in the regional areas. It is encouraging to see the dining standard being raised around the country by many small independent owner/operators,” says Kelli.

The Awards recognise established, up-and-coming and innovative New Zealand talent, with Wellington’s Boulcott Street Bistro receiving Pead PR’s Food Legend/Long Term Player title, Conor Mertens of Auckland’s

Chimera taking out the Estrella Damm One To Watch/Rising Talent Award, and the ?ra King Salmon Innovation Award presented to Ed Verner of Pasture in Auckland.

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

It was also announced that the top 108 list would be split into hatted restaurants determined based on an evolved, judging criterion of a higher standard, accompanied by an additional list of ‘ones to watch’ – restaurants that demonstrate excellence and are worth a visit.

“Our hat scores needed to be tightened, which has meant that some restaurants that were at one hat level last year did not gain a hat this year. However, these restaurants are still delivering a great experience and we felt that they should still be recognised. The ones to watch section also gives us the opportunity to highlight new restaurants that are showing promise,” says Kelli.

Lead assessor Kerry Tyack says that this year’s winners display excellence within the category that represents their own particular style of dining.

“Every restaurant is judged using the same set of criteria, but we also consider whether the restaurant being assessed meets the standards that they claim for themselves,” says Kerry. “If a restaurant positions itself to be high end formal dining, then we measure whether or not it delivers that style of dining well.”

“The category winners are the best examples of a specific style of dining, amidst many very good restaurants,” says Kerry. “Each category winner is the best representation of a particular type of restaurant for 2019 – they’re all showing excellence in their field.”

Kerry also points out what the Awards bring to the New Zealand public, and visitors looking to try our dining scene.

“The Awards are important to the hospitality industry but equally important to the dining public, and offers a current snapshot of restaurants that are doing a fantastic job this year,” says Kerry. “And just because a restaurant doesn’t make a category win or get a hat this year, it doesn’t mean it’s not a good restaurant – but simply that another restaurant stood out more this time.”

Though dining in New Zealand can be hard to define, the spread of restaurants recognised this year demonstrated a consistent ability to present excellence across a diverse menu, according to Kelli.

“There is no question that New Zealand does informal dining very well, while fine dining has become a little looser and more relaxed, while still presenting a seamless experience and unforgettable food.”

Traditionally celebrated at an evening event, the Awards this year took on a new digital format, announced via online streaming hosted by Kelli and Kerry.

“We loved being able to share the Awards with our hospitality community and Cuisine fans around the country allowing them to join their colleagues and friends and share in the celebrations this year,” says Kelli.

Over 40 experts located around the country, led by Kerry Tyack, are selected to determine the list via anonymous judging across the year.

The annual Cuisine Good Food Awards is the only nationwide, independent restaurant awards programme and 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 achievements of New Zealand restaurateurs and hospitality members.

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 acknowledge and thank for their ongoing support.

For more information on the Cuisine Top 108, including the full list of hatted restaurants and ones to watch, and regional breakdowns, visit www.cuisine.co.nz, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

The full list of category winners for the Cuisine Good Food Awards 2019 is as follows:

Cuisine Restaurant of the Year; SIDART – Auckland

Cuisine Chef of the Year; VAUGHAN MABEE – AMISFIELD BISTRO – Central Otago

Cardrona Distillery Best Metropolitan Restaurant; LOGAN BROWN – Wellington

Pamu Best Regional Restaurant; PACIFICA – Napier

San Pellegrino Best Specialist Restaurant; HIAKAI – Wellington

Epicure Trading Best Casual Dining Restaurant; SHEPHERD – Wellington

Kenwood Restaurant Personality of the Year; PRUE BARTON – MISTER D – Hawke’s Bay

Ora King Salmon Innovation Award; ED VERNER – PASTURE – Auckland

Best Winery Restaurant; BLACK ESTATE – Waipara

Best Wine Experience; NOBLE ROT – Wellington

Best Drinks List; CHARLEY NOBLE – Wellington

Pead PR Food Legend/Long-Term Player; BOULCOTT STREET BISTRO – Wellington

Estrella Damm One to Watch – Rising Talent; CONOR MERTENS – CHIMERA – Auckland

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