The editor of Cuisine, Sarah Nicholson, says determining which restaurants would secure the coveted 50 places was tougher than ever.
“A number of new restaurants have really raised the bar this year – we have eight first-time entrants to the list, including an impressive six in Auckland,” Nicholson says.
The finalists are drawn from throughout the country, from Dunedin to Whangarei, encompassing everything from smart new fine-diners to established neighbourhood favourites.
Now in its eighth year, the highly regarded Cuisine Restaurant of the Year is the only nationwide restaurant competition. Previous supreme winners include Auckland’s Merediths, North Otago’s Riverstone Kitchen and Wellington’s Logan Brown.
Kerry Tyack returns as the head judge for the awards in 2012. Tyack has been writing about and judging food and wine for more than 20 years, making him eminently qualified to oversee the judging panel of food and wine professionals.
Judges from throughout New Zealand have spent the past few months establishing the finalists, judging outside their local regions to ensure impartiality. Pairs of judges will anonymously visit all Top 50 restaurants and the top scoring restaurants will then be revisited to determine category winners.
A number of new categories have been introduced this year, including the Vittoria Coffee Chef of the Year Award.
“New Zealand has some truly world-class chefs and we wanted to recognise their innovation, creativity and skill,” says Nicholson. “I’ve no doubt that it will be a fiercely contested category.”
The full list of categories for the awards are:
- Cuisine Restaurant of the Year
- Chef of the Year
- Best Metropolitan Restaurant
- Best Regional restaurant
- Best New Restaurant
- Best Winery Restaurant
- Best Specialist Restaurant
- Restaurant Personality of the Year
The Cuisine NZ Restaurant of the Year winners will be announced at an industry event on the evening of Monday 6 August at the Auckland Art Gallery.
The following is a list of finalists in the Cuisine NZ Restaurant of the Year Awards 2012
Kitchen at Hotel DeBrett
O’Connell Street Bistro
Ponsonby Road Bistro
Soul Bar & Bistro
The Engine Room
The French Cafe
TriBeCa Restaurant & Bar
Hopgood’s Restaurant & Bar
South Canterbury/ Oamaru