We are delighted to announce our Cuisine Good Food Guide 2023/2024 with a new section giving a wider focus across our regional areas to cater to the diverse taste of Aotearoa that is craved by both Kiwis and international visitors. This year, in addition to our prestigious hat allocations and category winners, we will introduce our ‘Cuisine Destinations’ for 2023/2024. These will throw a spotlight on those experiences that you wouldn’t want a visitor to miss: it might be showcasing some of the best kaimoana in town; the place for popping the big question over bubbles and snacks; or a spot that makes all of your sourdough pizza dreams come true. As our hospitality industry works towards regaining momentum, the Cuisine-hatted restaurants will still set the bar for absolute excellence in New Zealand dining. Cuisine Destinations will be a starting point for restaurants nationwide that contribute to the unique flavours representing the best of Aotearoa.


Across the year Cuisine assessors review restaurants, the results of which are published in our magazine and at cuisine.co.nz. In addition to this, we have more than 40 industry experts who make up our awards-assessment team. These experts are a mix of food writers and critics, chefs and hospitality- industry professionals, and they help us to curate our selection of the very best. To be eligible for the awards – and our guide – a restaurant has to have been open for at least one month before an assessment, so as to ensure consistency. A significant change in direction or concept after assessment can rule a restaurant out of the running.


Restaurants that were in last year’s guide are automatically included in the assessment schedule for this year. The rest of the restaurants are nominated by our team around the country. During the lead-up to the awards there is a heightened focus on assessments and a second round of judging as we determine our category winners and hat allocations. When choosing our restaurants we are looking for places that have identified their niche and deliver on their promise to their customer. We award points for mood, décor and service, but our main focus is food: flavour, technique, innovation and balance. A restaurant has to score 10 out of a total of 20 points for its food to be considered for a hat.


Absolutely not! A restaurant has to earn a place in our guide each year. Our assessors pay for every meal, and are reimbursed by Cuisine for their meal and their assessment. There are no free lunches (or dinners) in exchange for a review or a place in our guide.


Every restaurant in the guide is assessed on its current performance for the year. For 2023/2024 we’ve taken on board your feedback and we’ve tightened our hat-allocation criteria to ensure that our hatted restaurants truly showcase those places that are at the very top of their game. It’s a given that their food will be excellent, but the restaurant will also deliver on its promise to the diner across every layer from fitout, to menu, to service. A hatted restaurant will aim to drive our food-and-drink conversation forward, not just in New Zealand but across the globe.


In previous years, to be awarded one hat a restaurant needed to score 16/20, which ranked as ‘Great’. For 2023, to be awarded one hat a restaurant will need to score 17 with a standard at ‘Excellent’. A score of 18 will remain at two hats (‘Consistently outstanding’) and to achieve three hats a restaurant will need to be considered ‘Extraordinary and approaching perfection’ with a score of 19 or 20. We do realise that this means that there will be restaurateurs at that 16 mark who will be disappointed this year as they will not be awarded a hat. However, restaurants scoring below 17 will be assessed for our new Cuisine Destinations list in the Cuisine Good Food Guide.

The Cuisine Good Food Awards and the resulting Cuisine Good Food Guide not only provide much-needed and respected feedback for the industry, they also showcase restaurant options across a variety of tastes and styles from casual to experimental to fine dining, along with the premium ingredients and products that New Zealand is fast becoming famous for.

We are very grateful for the continued support of our presenting partner American Express and to the group of premium companies that are completely committed to investing in and recognising the hard work and achievements of our New Zealand hospitality professionals. Our heartfelt thanks to Greenstone Creek, Kenwood, Ōra King, pead and The Alchemist’s Table for their crucial support. Without it we would not have been able to proceed with the 2023 awards.

Stay tuned to our social channels @cuisinemagazine and cuisine.co.nz in the lead up to the Cuisine Good Food Awards 2023/2024. ■