New Zealand’s hospitality royalty celebrate their biggest party of the year.
Guests arriving at Auckland’s opulent Civic Theatre for the Cuisine Good Food Awards 2018 on 15 October 2018 stepped into an Indian-inspired wonderland of elephant statues, seated Buddhas, domed ceilings and twisted columns, while inside the auditorium Abyssinian panthers stalked through a Moorish garden with turrets, minarets, spires and tiled roofs, beneath a night sky sparkling with stars.
But it was the stars of the restaurant and hospitality world that were the focus of attention for the evening as the biggest names in New Zealand’s food and wine world gathered to hear Cuisine Editor, Kelli Brett, and Cuisine Good Food Awards lead assessor Kerry Tyack announce this year’s winners.
Auckland restaurant Cocoro took the top accolade as Vittoria Coffee Restaurant of the Year, with chef and co-owner Makoto Tokuyama being feted for his sophisticated and inspiring Japanese food. Famed for using only the freshest sustainable seafood, the restaurant also earned three coveted hats.
“This team gets our highest honour in 2018,” said Kerry Tyack, lead assessor of the Cuisine Good Food Awards 2018. “With it comes our respect and our appreciation for a job being done quietly yet superbly.”
Santa Vittoria Chef of the Year, Giulio Sturla, was lauded for his skill balancing intense flavours that truly respect premium ingredients. “Giulio has so many layers to his work. Through his authentic and clever food, through his mentoring and continuous support of his team, through the telling of the New Zealand food story within his organisation Eat New Zealand and through his never-ending push to learn and to teach and to be excellent. We are so proud to be able to shine a well-deserved light on Giulio Sturla this year..”
With competition for the top awards being so intense, it’s remarkable that one chef should take out two of the major gongs. The ingenuity and sheer imagination of Vaughan Mabee of Amisfield Bistro was recognised for the second year running with the Ōra King Salmon Innovation Award, and his dish, The Paua Pie won the Whitestone Cheese Best NZ Dish.
Also demonstrating a wide-ranging talent, two of Auckland chef’s Sid Sahrawat’s stable of restaurants were awarded two hats this year, with Cassia winning the Best Metropolitan Restaurant.
Not only applauding the newest, hottest spots, Wellington’s abiding favourite fine-diner Logan Brown was applauded, winning the Pead PR New Zealand Long-Term Player award for their commitment to consistently serving up elegance and pure class.
At the other end of the longevity spectrum the spotlight turned on up-and-coming chef Monique Fiso, about to launch her restaurant Hiakai celebrating Māori cuisine and indigenous ingredients.
“Transcending trends while remaining the hallmark of success are the twin features of quality and consistency. Our hat and category winners this year deliver both. They have shown a sure-footedness, a confidence that survives and grows without need of gimmicks or extreme positioning,” commented Kerry Tyack.
The theme of ‘Pure and Premium New Zealand’ carried throughout the night from the food by Lizzie Pearson of Urban Gourmet to the sheer array of Kiwi talent that gathered to hear the likes of Auckland’s Cassia, Gemmayze St and Depot and Hamilton’s Palate restaurants take out well-deserved awards. Also gathering major accolades were Elephant Hill in Hawke’s Bay and Wellington’s Noble Rot and Charley Noble.
Wellington restaurants took three of the top honours, five went to Auckland with the rest going to teams in Hamilton, Hawke’s Bay, Canterbury and Central Otago.
Cuisine Good Food Awards 2018
Vittoria Coffee Restaurant of the Year
COCORO – Auckland
Santa Vittoria Chef of the Year
GIULIO STURLA – ROOTS – Canterbury
Best Metropolitan Restaurant
CASSIA – Auckland
SILERE Best Regional Restaurant
PALATE – Hamilton
Estrella Damm Best Specialist Restaurant
GEMMAYZE ST – Auckland
Epicure Trading Best Casual Dining Restaurant
DEPOT – Auckland
De’Longhi Restaurant Personality of the Year
TONY STEWART – CLOONEY – Auckland
Ōra King Salmon Innovation Award
AMISFIELD BISTRO – Central Otago
Yellow Brick Road Best Winery Restaurant
ELEPHANT HILL – Hawke’s Bay
Negociants New Zealand Best Wine Experience
NOBLE ROT – Wellington
Best Drinks List
CHARLEY NOBLE – Wellington
Cuisine New Zealand Future Food Legend
Pead PR New Zealand Long-Term Player
LOGAN BROWN – Wellington
Whitestone Cheese Best NZ Dish
THE PAUA PIE – VAUGHAN MABEE –
AMISFIELD BISTRO – Central Otago