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Behind the Kounta

Cuisine Good Food Guide Awards 2019

For the love of New Zealand food.

By Chloe Chaplin

New Zealand’s hospitality royalty have celebrated their biggest party of the year, and the dining forecast for NZ is set.

Guests arriving at Auckland’s opulent Civic Theatre for the Cuisine Good Food Awards 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.

Naturally, there were a few of our friends taking to the stage …

Nicholas and Pen returned to their rural bliss, Black Estate with two hats.

Nicholas, the winemaker alongside his wife Penelope, the restauranteur and Penelope’s parents Rod and Stacey own Black Estate. Together they grow good wine, talk too much about the weather, fight the good fight, oh and have two chefs hats!

This clever juxtaposition of a black barn on a rural hill, with sweeping views out over the vines, underscore the ‘far from anything’ feeling. Their story is pretty simple, organic real wines, organic real food, from a real family vineyard.

Sidart, an extension of Sid & Chand’s home welcomes two hats.

Chef and restaurateur Sid Sahrawat has spent almost nine years making his indelible mark on the Auckland dining scene with acclaimed restaurants Sidart and Cassia.

Renowned for his innovative and inspirational cooking, Sid grew up travelling the world and his exposure to international cuisine influenced his desire to cook. Sid uses produce from the garden tended to by his wife Chand to inspire him, with these ingredients then used in various ways by the chefs at Sidart.

Sid and Chand recently cultivated a worm farm to compost all kitchen scraps, as well as dead leaves and paper with a mission to be truly organic and sustainable. The couple uses the compost and worm tea to grow and fertilise the vegetable garden at Sidart.

Sidart believes in showcasing the best seasonal New Zealand produce. Progressive Indian flavours are married with contemporary cooking techniques to provide diners with an elevated experience. With their wine list featuring some of the best regional vineyards of NZ and a selection of recognised and eclectic producers internationally.

Arbour’s ‘just feed me’ experience is still stealing the show, and they’ve held on to their well deserved hat.

Eat. Sip. Gather. A simple but beautiful vision accomplished by Liz and Bradley who spent years in five-star hotels, resorts and creating award-winning restaurants, but Marlborough has always been the place they wanted to anchor their hearts and settle down in. Arbour’s modern and relaxed environment with innovative cuisine, an extensive wine list, and warm, friendly service maintained a one hat status as this year’s awards.

“We love that Arbour is surrounded by passionate people producing exceptional wine and food. We have access to world class ingredients for our diners’ right on our doorstep.” Bradley Hornby.

Rata, Josh Emett’s first New Zealand restaurant adds another hat to his many awards.

Raised on a farm outside of Hamilton, New Zealand, Josh was passionate about food and cooking from a young age. After completing his Chef training at the Waikato Polytechnic, Josh moved overseas and began working as a Chef de Partie at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London.

During Josh’s time at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, the restaurant was awarded three Michelin stars, making it the only three-star restaurant in London.

Paying homage to the rata tree, native to New Zealand, Rata restaurant is an award-winning eatery, owned and operated by Josh, and highly regarded local restauranteur Fleur Caulton.

Rata takes inspiration from the southern landscape and everything that epitomises New Zealand. A relaxed eating-house with a neighbourhood feel, Rata is known for its excellent service and exceptional food. The restaurant is located discreetly away from the hustle and bustle of Queenstown, tucked away alongside heritage buildings in the town’s core.

Sherwood, the uber-cool eco-hotel, yoga and wellness retreat, and restaurant nestled on the banks of Lake Wakatipu flows their way into the top 100.

Sherwood’s kitchen team takes inspiration from their beautiful surrounds and the bounty offered up by the changing seasons. A deep connection with nature defines the food at Sherwood and the spirit of Alice Waters looms large.

The recently planted kitchen garden and orchard provide a steady flow of fresh, flavor-filled, organic produce from which the ingredients required for each service are harvested.

Along with ingredients foraged on the team’s morning walk, Sherwood collaborates with local farms and independent growers to serve the finest sustainable produce the region has to offer.

Boulcott St Bistro’s 27 years of warm hospitality and incredible cuisine earns them a spot in the top 100.

Somewhere between being a New Zealand Beef & Lamb Ambassador, culinary judge, TV personality internationally recognised and multiple award-winning chef, Rex Morgan finds the time to create and deliver one of Wellington’s favourite menus: a combination of classic and innovative dishes which highlight the freshest and very best local produce available.