New Zealand’s hotly anticipated restaurant awards are back with an awards ceremony that will be broadcast nationally to celebrate our hospitality industry’s night of nights, 13 December 2021.

Mark your calendar and take a front-row seat as these prestigious awards are presented in a diverse range of exciting categories including our ultimate acknowledgement of the best of the best in New Zealand dining, The American Express Restaurant Of The Year.

We are beyond excited to announce that American Express will be our major partner for the 2021 awards. With their firm commitment to supporting  excellence within the New Zealand restaurant industry, this partnership is a win-win for all of us.

Rob Bourne, Country Manager New Zealand, American Express recognises how important the Cuisine Good Food Awards are to the hospitality industry. “This is a great opportunity for American Express to celebrate the achievements of the industry and show our ongoing support at a time when it is absolutely needed the most.” 

Cuisine Editor and Co-Director Kelli Brett is delighted to see the timely return of the awards. “One of the strengths of our restaurant industry is its agility. COVID taught us that a great hospitality experience and the team that works so hard to create it is never again to be taken for granted. Our great restaurants have been able to react and survive in very innovative ways to stay in the game.” 

“These awards and the resulting Cuisine Good Food Guide will allow true food and drink lovers to make informed decisions and ensure that every dollar that they spend on dining out will be spent well. It has been a tough time for the industry, and it is not over yet. The awards come at a moment when these dedicated professionals truly deserve a humongous hug. We can’t wait to celebrate with them on 13 December.” 

This year also sees the introduction of two new awards, reflective of both the changing hospitality landscape and the need to recognise meticulous talent, Best Hotel Restaurant and Best Pastry Chef. 

“With the influx of new hotels and their inhouse offerings hitting the market in 20/21 we want to recognise the establishments that are doing it well and raise the bar for the industry in general,” says Kelli. 

“There are many layers to this, a hotel restaurant cannot operate in the same way as an independent operation. They are often open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and may also deliver the room service menu as well. It takes a special skill set to operate these restaurants successfully and we know they will greatly value this recognition.” 

In Kelli’s opinion, the introduction of the Best Pastry Chef award is a much-needed addition. “This award recognises a hardworking, talented but often unrecognised group of professionals who have coined their own style, with a focus on New Zealand ingredients that express their flavour and quality. These are chefs who have a particular passion for desserts and have reached outstanding heights with their sweet cookery.”

The CGFA’s traditional ‘hats’ – a rating system of 1, 2 or 3 – will retain the upgraded standards that were introduced in 2019. To be awarded one hat, a restaurant will need to score 16 – regarded as ‘great’. A score of 18 will no longer be awarded 3 hats. To receive this most prestigious accolade a restaurant will need to be considered ‘extraordinary and approaching perfection’ with a score of 19 or 20.Cuisine selects over 40 experts located around the country, led by Kerry Tyack, to anonymously judge restaurants nationwide throughout the year and determine the top 100 list. 

“As news of the return of the Awards filters through the restaurant community, there is palpable excitement,” says Kerry. “Chefs love the Cuisine Good Food Awards because they know they represent a singular focus on the delivery of a truly sophisticated, satisfying and consumer driven dining experience. They appreciate that these awards are built on nearly two decades of development and refinement and they value the transparency and expertise brought to the assessment process by a team of the finest food and dining observers and commentators in the country.”

Restaurant of the Year 2019

Chef of the Year 2019
Vaughan Mabee, Amisfield Bistro

Ōra King Salmon
Innovation Award 2019

Ed Verner, Pasture

The Cuisine Good Food Awards is the only nationwide restaurant awards programme of its kind. Now independently owned, the annual awards are viewed globally as the authority on the dining scene in New Zealand. 

Our heartfelt thanks to American Express and to our supporting partners Antipodes Water, De’Longhi, Ora King and Pead who also make this commitment with a huge desire to drive a message to Kiwis and the rest of the world that we are a must-visit destination for people who love to eat and drink!

Without the generous support of our partners, we would not have been able to bring the hats back for you in 2021.

Our winners will be profiled and celebrated with the release of our Cuisine Good Food Guide in our January issue, onsale mid- December just in time for you to plan your greatest meals ever for 2022.

Stay tuned to cuisine.co.nz for updates on all things Cuisine Good Food Award-related, looking forward to celebrating with you on December 13.