Diners in New Zealand are being treated to the finest food they have ever had,
according to Kerry Tyack, head judge of this year’s Cuisine NZ Good Food Awards.
The French Café in Auckland is the 2013 Cuisine Restaurant of the Year (as well as
the SanPellegrino Best Metropolitan Restaurant). It’s also one of only two
restaurants to receive the maximum of three chef’s hats under the new rating
system, which adopts the hats and scores out of 20, as used by the renowned Good
Food Guides in Australia.
“The French Café could certainly hold its own on the international stage – dining
there is a consistently excellent experience that’s inspiring and entertaining,” says
Cuisine editor, Sarah Nicholson.
This is the ninth year of the awards (previously known as the Cuisine NZ Restaurant
of the Year Awards), which are New Zealand’s only national restaurant awards.
Clooney, also in Auckland, is the only other restaurant to be awarded three chef’s
hats, with head chef Des Harris also taking out the Vittoria Coffee Chef of the Year
“Des Harris is nailing it. Yes, his food is intelligent and expertly composed, but most
importantly, it is absolutely delicious,” says Nicholson.
Tyack said the judges were pleased to note that throughout the country, New
Zealand’s dining scene is continuing to evolve and strengthen.
“The connection between wine lists and menus is growing stronger, while the
continuing recognition of the value of locally sourced produce is hugely positive,” he
“The ongoing development of great food and service in provincial centres is a
highlight – our two best regional restaurants are both first-time award winners,” says
Nicholson of Hamilton’s Victoria Street Bistro – European Foods Best Regional
Restaurant – and the runner-up, Queenstown’s Rata.
Auckland restaurant Kazuya claimed the title of Electrolux Best New Restaurant. In
addition to the excellent cuisine from chef-owner Kazuya Yamauchi, the judges
commented that they loved the entertaining and engaging service. The runner-up is
Napier’s Mister D, which the judges felt had brought a new sense of relaxed dining to
Plumm Glassware Best Specialist Restaurant is French eatery Hippopotamus in
Wellington and the Whitestone Cheese Best Winery Restaurant is Central Otago’s
picturesque Amisfield Bistro, with Black Barn Bistro in Havelock North the runner-up.
This year’s Villa Maria Estate Restaurant Personality of the Year is Al Brown.
“Al Brown has a knack for gauging exactly what we want to eat and drink right now,”
says Nicholson, noting his Auckland restaurant Depot has set many of the most
recent dining trends in New Zealand, including the joys of wine on tap, sliders, lamb
ribs and freshly shucked clams.
For further details on all the winners and other top restaurants across New Zealand,
check out the Cuisine NZ Good Food Guide – free with the July issue of Cuisine, on
sale 24 June. For more information on the awards go to cuisinegoodfoodguide.co.nz
or pick up a copy of the magazine.
Cuisine NZ Good Food Awards 2013
Cuisine Restaurant of the Year 2013: The French Café
SanPellegrino Best Metropolitan Restaurant: The French Café, Auckland
Runner-up: Clooney, Auckland
Vittoria Coffee Chef of the Year: Des Harris, Clooney
Electrolux Best New Restaurant: Kazuya, Auckland
Runner-up: Mister D, Napier
European Foods Best Regional Restaurant: Victoria Street Bistro, Hamilton
Runner-up: Rata, Queenstown
Plumm Glassware Best Specialist Restaurant: Hippopotamus, Museum Hotel Wellington
Whitestone Cheese Best Winery Restaurant: Amisfield Bistro, Central Otago
Runner-up: Black Barn Bistro, Havelock North
Villa Maria Estate Restaurant Personality of the Year: Al Brown, Depot, Auckland
The 2013 Chef’s Hats
The French Café
O’Connell Street Bistro
Ponsonby Road Bistro
Soul Bar & Bistro
The Engine Room
Victoria Street Bistro