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Waikato Hospitality Champions Celebrated at Regional Awards

Waikato Hospitality Awards

With 15 awards ranging from best restaurant to emerging chef of the year the night was brought alive with hosts Stu and Camille from The Breeze Waikato who added their own flavour to the proceedings.

“The awards are essential to creating a benchmark of success both for industry and consumers” says Vanessa Wallace from The Restaurant Association. 

Ashleigh Brodie took home the outstanding Chef of the year award while her team at Gather Food House won the people’s choice establishment title. Having recently sold Gather this was a huge achievement for the young businesswoman and her family run business. 

Taking the title of Meadowfresh outstanding barista was Dove Chen who earlier in the year came 16th in the world barista championships. The owner of Grey Street Kitchen has served coffee in Hamilton for over 10 years however this was his first local award and he expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the title.

 Alex Williams, owner of Wonder Horse Bar was awarded the Anitpodes outstanding bartender of the year while his team received The Restaurant Association bar of the year. He acknowledged the supportive local hospitality community as key to their success.

 The Service Foods Emerging Chef of the year was awarded to Harriet Boucher of Mr Pickles Bar and Eatery which also took out the One Music restaurant award for outstanding ambience and design.

 The stars aligned for The Waikato Food Inc Matariki Dish Challenge winners Alpha Street Bar and Kitchen with their outstanding dish Te kotinga mai I te moana – Harvest from the sea. The dish showcased local ingredients based on the season of Matariki with full flavours and excellent delivery. With half a point between all three finalists the judging was the hardest in the history of the competition.

 “Partnering to bring these awards to our region is a huge part of our drive to champion our local hospitality community and the results show the high calibre of both emerging and established talent,” says Vicki Ravlich-Horan of Waikato Food Inc.

 It was a ‘grate’ success for The Meyer Cheese Melt Challenge winners, The Verandah Café, with their entry ‘Up to No Gouda’. Their champion cheese toastie used a combination of local cheeses from Meyer and Clevedon Buffalo and bread from the award-winning artisanal bakery Volare.

 “The Waikato often flies under the radar when it comes to food and hospitality, but this confirms our position as a vibrant multifaceted food and beverage region,” says Esther Burnett from Waikato Food Inc.

 “The passion and excellence of our hospitality community was recognised last night and Waikato Food Inc are dedicated to ensuring we continue to celebrate that”

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