Jester House is New Zealand's best cafe
The bubbly will flow as the owners and staff of Jester House celebrate being named the best cafe in New Zealand today.
Co-owner Judy van den Yssel-Richards said that she and husband Steve Richards had planned a party for their staff for this afternoon and they had intended to celebrate whether they won the award or not.
The Tasman cafe was announced as the South Island regional winner and a national finalist for Cafe of the Year 2013 last week, and Ms van den Yssel-Richards was told they had won the national title last Thursday.
She had to keep the news under her hat until today, when the award was announced publicly, but staff who were present when she got the call quickly worked out they had won.
"The woman said ‘I've got some good news for you' and I said ‘Oh my god, oh my god' over and over and it went on like that for quite some time. I was jumping up and down so they could see that something was up.
"We can't do it on our own. The staff are just as much a part of Jester House as Steve and I are."
By taking the title from the 668 other cafes that entered the awards, the Jester House owners won a new Fiat 500S and $2500 worth of product from award sponsors Wattie's and Goodman Fielder.
The runner up was Black Cottage Cafe in Coatesville north of Auckland.
Head judge Kerry Tyack said the race for top honours was extremely close.
"Although offering very different experiences, both impressed across the board and the special dishes they prepared were of equal quality," he said.
"The Jesters dish had a very small advantage on innovation offering a spiced hot pot over the more common con-carne style dish from Black Cottage Cafe. Jester House Cafe also delivers a unique experience, fantastic alfresco dining and atmosphere and outstanding service.
"Jester House Cafe really is a little gem in a beautiful part of the country and somewhere we would recommend without hesitation."
As part of the competition, cafes had to feature a dish using the sponsors' products. Mr Richards' winning dish was a wild goat tagine served with raita and a tomato and corn salsa.
He said he was keen to use wild meat and Ms van den Yssel-Richards said that after checking out what other cafes had featured in the competition previously and finding the dishes a bit "same same", he had set out to create something different.
The win was a great validation of the hard work the staff put into the cafe and was likely to set the cafe on a national stage rather than being well known just in the region, said Ms van den Yssel-Richards.
"When we travel we go to the top rated places to benchmark ourselves against, so I think the award gives customers something to pin their decision on."
The bubbly won't stop flowing after today. On Saturday the cafe will host a celebration for its customers from 4.30pm to 6.30pm, with the cafe producing nibbles and the first glass of bubbles on the house.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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