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Home Of The Hats Cuisine Magazine Announces Category Winners Of Cuisine Good Food Awards 2021/2022

Category Award winners, hatted restaurants and full list of 135 top restaurants across NZ named

The highly-anticipated Category Award winners and hatted restaurants have been named in the 2021/2022 Cuisine Good Food Awards, proudly presented by American Express; an annual industry celebration regarded as the country's pre-eminent hospitality awards list. 

 Queenstown’s Amisfield has taken out the coveted title of American Express Restaurant of the Year and awarded three hats, praised by Cuisine’s team of experts as a phenomenal restaurant deserving of global recognition. Head chef Vaughan Mabee was also awarded the Ora King Innovation Award, in recognition of his ever-creative menus. 

Monique Fiso of Hiakai in Wellington was awarded the prestigious title of Cuisine Chef of the Year, after being recognised for the impact of her work – not only through Hiakai’s menu, but in telling Aotearoa’s unique food story to an international audience. Monique’s restaurant Hiakai also won Antipodes Best Specialist Restaurant and was awarded three hats.  

Auckland’s Ahi by Ben Bayly and Chris Martin took out two category awards, winning both Best Metropolitan Restaurant and Best Drinks List. Described as ‘nailing New Zealand flavour’, the restaurant was awarded two hats. 

Alongside Amisfield and Hiakai, Auckland’s Sid at the French Café stepped up to claim a well deserved spot in this list of the best of Aotearoa’s best dining experiences, and Pasture, Cocoro, and Napier’s Pacifica rounded out the coveted three hat allocations for 2021/2022. A notable 33 restaurants achieved two hats, and a further 48 secured one hat. 

“This year’s winners are so deserving of the titles they’ve been awarded, and should be immensely proud of the experiences they’ve delivered during an incredibly tough couple of years for the industry. We are thrilled to welcome Hiakai and Sid at the French Café to the coveted three hat pinnacle,” says Kelli Brett, Cuisine editor. 

“Each of our category winners and hatted restaurants offer an exceptional culinary experience, and should be top of the list for Kiwis when considering where to dine this year.”

Lead assessor Kerry Tyack was excited to acknowledge winners across three new categories; Best Hotel Restaurant went to Kingi, Pastry Chef of the Year went to Callum Liddicoat of the Park Hyatt, and Best Wine Experience to Scotch Wine Bar

“The culinary scene is ever-evolving and it is important to us to recognise talents across more than just the traditional restaurant format,” Kerry says. “These winners showcase excellence in their respective fields.”

Notably, this year’s line up included a strong presence of women, such as Monique Fiso of Hiakai, Kelda Haines of Rita, Leslie Hottiaux of Apero and Laura Greenfield of Field & Green all taking their place yet again among the best in New Zealand; along with newcomers to the list including Helen Turnbull of 50-50, Jo Pearson of Alma, Plabita Florence of Forest, and Georgia van Prehn, who also won One to Watch (Rising Talent).  

“In an industry that is typically dominated by men, it is inspiring to see these incredibly talented women leading the charge. We hope to unearth and encourage more women to rise through the ranks in professional kitchens around the country,” says Kelli. 

Comprising 135 restaurants located from Russell to Dunedin, the line-up indicates the strength of New Zealand’s restaurant offering nationwide. The ever-growing culinary hotspot of Wellington particularly shines in this year’s list, with 23 placements located in the capital; as does Christchurch with six placements, and Dunedin with five. 

Typically presented as one list, Cuisine made the decision to proceed with a two-part announcement in 2021/2022 due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions across the country, which impacted judging timeframes this year. The first instalment, announced in 2021, featured restaurants based outside Auckland, with the full list and Category Awards revealed at a digital awards ceremony this evening.  

Cuisine editor Kelli Brett says that despite the challenges of the current climate, Cuisine is thrilled to get behind the industry at such a pivotal time. 

“While it has been a year of challenges, it has also been a year of opportunities. We’ve seen many newcomers to the list this year, including recent openings, which is very exciting and is reflected in the increased number of hats allocated this year,” says Kelli.

American Express New Zealand joins the awards as presenting partner this year. Rob Bourne, Country Manager, says the talent and produce within the New Zealand restaurant scene is world class. “We are honoured to assist the industry in gaining the recognition it deserves and to encourage people to experience the best on offer,” says Rob. 

Cuisine wishes to thank their supporting partners American Express, Antipodes, De’Longhi, Ōra King, and Pead for their support for the awards and the New Zealand hospitality industry.   

The Cuisine Good Food Awards is the only nationwide restaurant awards programme of its kind. Independently owned, the annual awards are viewed globally as the authority on the dining scene in New Zealand. This is the first time the awards have gone ahead since 2019, as it took a hiatus in 2020 due to Covid-19. 

The March issue of Cuisine magazine, on sale 14 February, will include New Zealand’s dining bible the Cuisine Good Food Guide for 2021/2022. 

For more information on the Cuisine Top Restaurants and full list of awards, visit www.cuisine.co.nz/finalists-announced, facebook.com/cuisinemagazine, twitter.com/cuisinemagazine, or follow @cuisinemagazine on Instagram. 

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