Cuisine Good Food Awards set to celebrate the country's best restaurants and chefs

STUFF

Cuisine Good Food Awards

A year of scrupulous eating has come to an end and one restaurant will soon be declared New Zealand's best.

Forty Cuisine judges have travelled up and down the country, assessing the country's best eats, and the shortlist of the top 100 restaurants was announced last month.

But Auckland War Memorial Museum will play host to the eighth annual Cuisine Good Food Awards, and that's where the reigning restaurants and chefs will be named. 

Simon Wright's restaurant, The French Cafe, was dubbed best in New Zealand last year.
Peter Meecham

Simon Wright's restaurant, The French Cafe, was dubbed best in New Zealand last year.

Cuisine editor Kelli Brett says there will be some disappointed chefs and restaurateurs, but there will be many happy people too. 

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She says she feels slightly more prepared for the awards this year, her second as editor. 

Cuisine editor Kelli Brett says there's a year of work that goes into judging the country's best restaurants.
Tony Nyberg

Cuisine editor Kelli Brett says there's a year of work that goes into judging the country's best restaurants.

"I'm excited and petrified in equal measure. This year, I'm coming into it having immersed myself in the New Zealand food story and know only too well how passionate and driven these restaurateurs and chefs are."

Brett says the judging, which takes place year-round and is carried out by well-respected industry professionals, is a rigorous process.

"The reality is the winners will be over the moon, rightly so, but there will be those who are disappointed. 

Cheers and clapping overwhelmed the room as head judge Kerry Tyack announced hat winners last year.
Jason Creaghan

Cheers and clapping overwhelmed the room as head judge Kerry Tyack announced hat winners last year.

"But that's why this is so important. The industry needs constructive feedback to enable growth and improvement."

The awards include Chef of the Year, Restaurant of the Year, Best Metropolitan Restaurant, Best Regional Restaurant, Restaurant Personality of the Year and Best Winery Restaurant. 

A new addition to the awards is Best Casual Dining Restaurant.

Chief judge Kerry Tyack says New Zealand's dining scene has changed, and it's not all about fine-dining, hence the new award category.

"We're coming to a point where we have developed distinct styles of dining."

High-end degustation menus sit alongside niche restaurants focused on specific cuisines from around the world, and casual dining is prevalent. 

"We have sort of moved away from the big amorphous idea of eating out."

He says the different genres of cuisine are now more pronounced, which is good for everyone. 

Brett says what's also good for everyone is the quality of the food around the country, not just in major cities, but there are many who did not make the cut.

"You might think your local restaurant is really great, and wonder why is it not in the top 100. The reality might be that it's the best restaurant in that area, but it doesn't stack up when they're all assessed on the same criteria. We do not choose our winners based on a regional criteria, " 

 Tyack says it's also inevitable plenty of Auckland restaurants appeared in the top 100. 

"The sheer demographic is going to mean that the number of Auckland restaurants in consideration for it is greater – that's just a fact."

But the process through which the assessments are carried out ensures restaurants country-wide are considered properly, and the standard of dining in the regions is getting better. 

"The standard of food has increased to the point where the distinction is much less pronounced."

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Sid Sahrawat, head chef and owner of Sidart and Cassia restaurants was named best chef in 2016.
LAWRENCE SMITH/ STUFF

Sid Sahrawat, head chef and owner of Sidart and Cassia restaurants was named best chef in 2016.

 - Stuff

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