In what marks another year of celebrating culinary excellence in one of the most produce-rich and culturally diverse countries in the world, The Good Food Guide Awards have named the very best of the Australian Restaurant Elite with the release of the Good Food Guide for 2019.
With the usual and expected fluctuation of hats between venues old and new evident as always, this year also saw a particular upswing in nods for venues in rural Victoria, as well as the burgeoning Canberran dining scene. Mornington’s latest hot spot, Laura, helmed by Rockpool alumni Phil Wood, picked up two hats as well as the coveted New Restaurant of the Year award for the Point Leo Estate venue. A total of seven venues in Canberra grabbed a hat, with celebrated dining room Aubergine scoring two for the nation’s capital.
Industry royalty Peter Gilmore was handed the Citi Chef of the Year award for his undying efforts at Circular Quay fine-diner Quay, which picked up three hats for a record-breaking seventeenth year in a row. Sydney’s other much-loved fine dining spot, Momofuku Seiobo, notably gained a hat, putting it back in the winner’s circle with the much-desired trio of chef’s hats. This is the internationally acclaimed franchise’s first time to achieve this feat since Barbados native Paul Carmichael took over as Executive Chef, stamping his unique Caribbean mark on the menu.
New South Wales in total saw nine more hats awarded to its venues than Victoria; each state evenly splitting the six restaurants in the country who enjoy three-hat status. Santa Vittoria Regional Restaurant of the Year went, expectedly, to Victoria’s beloved Brae, (which also enjoys San Pellegrino Top-50 in the World status). The regional dining room in Birreguerra has been heavily awarded since opened in 2013 by chef and owner Dan Hunter. Hunter also runs an on-site kitchen garden, growing his own produce for the kitchen, which rotates seasonal offerings.
Number one spot this year, however, went to South Australia’s Orana. The 2019 Vittoria Restaurant of the Year is the brainchild of Jock Zonfrillo, a half-Scottish, half-Italian chef who, in 1999 impressively traded a crippling addiction to heroin for a prosperous career in the kitchen, and found his groove using native Australian ingredients: a passion that was triggered by a conversation with an Aboriginal busker in Circular Quay almost twenty years ago. The former student of revered chef Marco Pierre-White now runs a not-for-profit foundation supporting indigenous communities through sustainable food.
Click below for a comprehensive list of winners, or to grab a hard copy of Australia’s foremost guide to dining.