Sydney eatery Rockpool has beaten a very competitive field to be named Australia’s new Restaurant of the Year.
Launching the country’s only national restaurant guide last night at an Italo disco-themed awards ceremony at Sydney’s Carriageworks, Gourmet Traveller’s editors singled out the landmark restaurant for its glamorous and grown-up take on fine dining.
The MC for the awards again was Nine’s Leila McKinnon who has helped out on stage by Gourmet Traveller editor Anthea Loucas and her chief restaurant critic, Pat Nourse.
Many of Australia’s best-known chefs and restaurateurs were on hand, leaving some wondering who was running their establishments last night.
Guillaume Brahimi was a late arrival. “Somebody has to work!” he joked.
When he sat down at his table, Neil Perry asked, “Who is making the soufflés tonight?”
Other chefs attending included Matt Moran, Peter Gilmore, Colin Fassnidge, Darren Robertson and Kylie Kwong.
The Rockpool group had a big team attending along with Perry and his business partner Trish Richards. (Photo shows Neil Perry with head chef Phil Wood.) Perry was also joined by his daughter Josephine who has just opened the bistro Missy French in Potts Point.
Winners of the awards came from all over the country. Australia’s Bar of the Year is Brisbane’s The Gresham, while Regional Restaurant of the Year is Byron Bay newcomer Three Blue Ducks. Melbourne scored with Vanessa Crichton of Rosetta taking out Maître d’ of the Year, and Raffaele Mastrovincenzo from Kappo winning Sommelier of the Year. Dan Hunter, of Brae in country Victoria, took out the top spot in the peer-voted Chef of the Year award.
The New Restaurant of the Year award going to Bennelong caused some discussion amongst foodies as it had only been open a few weeks and was not a new venue according to some.
Lennox Hastie, a chef who cooks only with fire at his Surry Hills restaurant, Firedoor, is Best New Talent, and Billy Kwong won Wine List of the Year.
“We’ve got a room full of really exciting talent,” said GT chief restaurant critic, Pat Nourse. “The overall standard in this country, whether it’s in cafés, bars, casual eateries or the finest of diners, is on the up, and that’s a win for Australians who love eating out. It just goes to show that Australia is truly a great destination for people who love to eat, drink and have fun.”
“Our restaurant scene is so vibrant, diverse and exciting,” says GT editor, Anthea Loucas, “it’s a real honour and a pleasure for us to be able to celebrate it through these awards, our restaurant guide and in every issue of Gourmet Traveller.”
Details of all the winners are in the September issue of Gourmet Traveller, on newsstands with the new edition of the national Gourmet Traveller Australian Restaurant Guide, presented by Vittoria Coffee, and supporting sponsors Ilve, Uniworld and Sydney Kitchens, on Thursday 20 August.
AUSTRALIAN GOURMET TRAVELLER RESTAURANT AWARDS WINNERS
RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
Rockpool, Sydney, NSW
CHEF OF THE YEAR
Dan Hunter, Brae, Birregurra
OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO HOSPITALITY
Joost Bakker, sustainability activist
NEW RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
Bennelong, Sydney, NSW
WINE LIST OF THE YEAR
Billy Kwong, Sydney
SOMMELIER OF THE YEAR
Raffaele Mastrovincenzo, Kappo, Sydney
MAÎTRE D’ OF THE YEAR
Vanessa Crichton, Rosetta, Melbourne
BEST NEW TALENT
Lennox Hastie, Firedoor, Sydney
REGIONAL RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR
Three Blue Ducks, Byron Bay, NSW
BAR OF THE YEAR
The Gresham, Brisbane
The Bridge Room, Sydney
Vue de Monde, Melbourne
Momofuku Seiobo, Sydney