Acknowledging Excellence in the Wellington Region

The Wellington hospitality industry acknowledged the outstanding abilities of its own with the announcement of the winners at the Felix Wellington Hospitality Awards.

Presented by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand and lead partners Lexis Comply Hub, the awards acknowledged the outstanding hospitality professionals, all of whom have made a positive impact on the local café, dining and drinking scene.

Cuba Street restaurant Highwater Eatery, known for its approach to using local, sustainable and ethical produce, picked up the accolade for Best Restaurant in the region.


Groundbreaking chef Monique Fiso known for pushing the boundaries of Māori cuisine picked up the award for her restaurant Hiakai.

This year the Restaurant Association introduced three new categories for outstanding community spirit, outstanding innovation and outstanding local hospo hero in recognition of the people and businesses that have stepped up and showed steely determination as New Zealand navigated its way through COVID-19.

Winning the award for outstanding community spirit was Kapura Catering. Jamie Williams and the Kapura team transformed the business to produce frozen meals and packs. The team worked with The Ministry of Social Development to deliver over 200,000 meals and 35,000 grocery boxes to 9000 Wellingtonians in need, all at cost price.

The Kapura team also started a lockdown legends website where members of the public could nominate someone in the community doing great work to receive a free main meal at any of the Kapura sites.

Outstanding local hospo hero went to Jackie Lee Morrison who spearheaded a hospitality collective, the Pandemic Pack, to offer a combined delivery service during Levels 3 and 2 of the NZ COVID-19 alert system.

Outstanding Innovation went to At Yours by Visa Wellington On a Plate who created an online directory of food and beverage services offering contactless delivery, click and collect, and/or takeaway during Alert Level 3 of the Covid-19 lockdown. The site was put together in record time, designed to be up and running as soon as the country moved to Alert Level 3.

Wellingtonians looking for an exceptional dining experience can be assured of it this year with Shepherd Elliott of stylish laneway restaurant Shepherd awarded the accolade of Outstanding Chef for his novel flavours and sophisticated techniques.

Long-running eatery Olive picks up the award for outstanding café for its seasonal French and Italian inspired menus in a rustic space.

Great service did not go unrecognised with Davey McDonald of seafood restaurant Ortega, famed for its attention to detail in service, picking up the award for outstanding maitre’d while Capitol restaurant took out the outstanding front of house team.

Hawthorn Lounge

Justin McKenzie of C G R Merchant & Co, Cuckoo Emporium and Hawthorn Lounge collected the award for outstanding hospitality professional.

Those looking for a great place to get a great drink also won’t be disappointed with the region’s top-notch bars recognised.

Devan Nesbitt of Hawthorn Lounge took out the award for outstanding bartender while Crumpet Bar won outstanding cocktail experience.

Outstanding new establishment went to Newtown’s restaurant/bar hybrid Mason.

“Wellington has a vibrant and world-leading hospitality scene which deserves to be recognised. Our goal is to recognise those providing an exceptional experience and connect them to one another and the local dining community,” commented Restaurant Association CEO Marisa Bidois.

“It has never been more important for diners to get out and try the fantastic array of local dining spots, so we hope these awards inspire Wellingtonians to support their locals.”

The winners were announced at an awards ceremony held at Te Papa Tongarewa.