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Waikato’s Top Places to Dine

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Finalists announced in the Waikato Hospitality Awards

The finalists have been announced in the Waikato Hospitality awards and represent the top-notch dining establishments in the region as voted by the hospitality industry.

Famed for its charcuterie platters in a riverside setting, new eatery Mr Pickles picks up five nominations for outstanding ambience and design, outstanding bartender for Jackson White, outstanding chef for Maurice Montero and emerging chef for Harriet Boucher. Maître d’ and co-owner Matthew Pedley also receives a nomination for local food hero.

Neighbourhood eateries steal the show in the battle for best restaurant with Alpino Cambridge, Alpha St Kitchen & Bar and Hayes Common all nominated.

They’re up against stiff competition however with fine dining establishment, Palate taking the final nomination.

Hospitality establishments in rural settings are also recognised in the category of outstanding suburban/regional experience with Cinnamon Café, Punnet, Red Kitchen, Te Awamutu and the Sugar Bowl Café all receiving nominations.

Those looking for a place to get a great drink won’t be disappointed with the region’s growing assortment of top notch bars recognised. Craft, Keystone Bar and Restaurant the Helm Bar and Kitchen and Wonder Horse all receive nominations for the title of Best Bar.

The Waikato community is also able to vote for its favourite establishment in the People’s Choice Award category.

15 awards will be handed out to the best of the Waikato hospitality industry. From crew members, to suppliers, to establishments – the best of the best will be celebrated for their contribution to creating a world-class hospitality scene in the region.

CEO Marisa Bidois says, “With almost half of Hamilton’s population being under 30 and home to more than 80 different ethnic groups, it’s no surprise that the region is able to offer some of the nation’s most diverse and exciting places to drink and dine.

“The awards are really an opportunity to recognise those providing an exceptional experience to the dining community and spread the word about the amazing places there are to drink and eat in the region.”

Voting is open until Sunday, 4th August and the winners will be revealed at the awards evening on Monday 12th August.

Presented by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand, Waikato Food Inc. and Lexis ComplyHub, the Waikato Hospitality Awards were created to celebrate the legendary people and businesses bringing first class dining experiences to the region.

Tickets to the event are on sale now, to purchase or for more information regarding the awards please visit

Voting links are here for industry and here for people’s choice.

Stay connected with key updates and announcements on our Facebook page @waikatohospoawards and Instagram @ waikatohospoawards


Waikato Hospitality Awards 2019 Finalists:

Restaurant Association of NZ Outstanding Barista
Dave Tourell, SL28
Dove Chen, Grey Street Kitchen
Leigh Johnson, Gather Foodhouse
Tina Grainger, The River Kitchen

Restaurant Association of NZ Outstanding Bartender
Alex Williams, Wonder Horse
Ethan Smith, The Helm Bar and Kitchen
Jackson White, Mr. Pickles Bar & Eatery
Roberto Valenzuela, Banh Mi Caphe

The POS People Outstanding Front of House Team
Gather Foodhouse
Gothenburg Restaurant
Smith & McKenzie Steak House

Bidfresh Hamilton Outstanding Chef
Andrew Clarke, Camarosa
Ashleigh Brodie, Gather Foodhouse
Mat McLean, Palate
Maurice Montero, Mr. Pickles Bar & Eatery

Waikato Food Inc. Local Food Hero
Gus Tissink, Bidfresh Hamilton
Mathew Pedley, Mr. Pickles Bar & Eatery
Nathan Hartley, Sky City Hamilton

Service Foods Emerging Chef
Daniel Lawrence, Hayes Common
Harriet Boucher, Mr. Pickles Bar & Eatery
Scott Bray, Sky City Hamilton
Zak Donald, Palate 

Bidfood Hamilton Outstanding Café
Gather Foodhouse
Paddock, Cambridge
Scott’s Epicurean
The Shack, Raglan

Asahi Premium Beverages Outstanding Bar
Keystone Bar and Restaurant
The Helm Bar and Kitchen
Wonder Horse

OneMusic Outstanding Ambience & Design
Alpino Cambridge
Banh Mi Caphe
Mr. Pickles Bar & Eatery

Nova Energy Outstanding Suburban/Regional Experience
Cinnamon Café
Red Kitchen, Te Awamutu
The Sugar Bowl Cafe

Burns & Ferrall Outstanding Restaurant
Alpino Cambridge
Alpha St Kitchen & Bar
Hayes Common

The Recruitment Network Outstanding Caterer
Kerr & Ladbrook
Mavis & Co
Montana Food and Events Waikato
The River Kitchen

Maurice Trapp Group Outstanding Sales Rep
Chris Elliot, Food Chain
Jo Skeates, DB Breweries
Katrina Frost, Bidfresh Hamilton
Rachel Baille, Red + White Cellar

Kerr & Ladbrook Outstanding Supplier
Bidfood Hamilton
Bidfresh Hamilton
Burns & Ferrall
Southern Hospitality

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