Last night the winners of the highly anticipated New Zealand Good Food Awards – presented by Vittoria Coffee – were revealed at a gathering of the country’s most talented restaurant industry members.

Napier’s Pacifica was named Restaurant of the Year, reflecting a trend noted by the judges of restaurants in the regions closing the gap on their metropolitan counterparts. Pacifica is renowned for its Kiwi cuisine, with chef Jeremy Rameka’s passion for local, fresh ingredients shining through in Pacifica’s special five-course degustation experience.

Vittoria Coffee Chef of the Year went to Ed Verner from Pasture restaurant in Auckland’s Parnell. “Innovation is a quality Ed Verner brings to the table, said chief judge Kerry Tyack. “The concepts he is developing are both skilful and artful and we look forward to watching his work in the years ahead.”

Fleur Sullivan of Moeraki’s much-loved Fleurs Place was awarded a surprise accolade and named a “Food Legend”.

The  New Zealand Good Food Award winners, along with those awarded one, two or three “hats”, were drawn from the list of New Zealand’s top 100 restaurants, which essentially serves as a finalist list for the prestigious accolades.

Tyack explained that the guide acknowledges New Zealand restaurants and restaurateurs who, in the opinion of the assessment team have made the strongest impression over the past year.

“Each year we are encouraged by the growing number of restaurants reaching high standards. The wave of chefs recognising the importance of using ingredients from their regions and refining their preparation techniques to let the quality of those ingredients speak for itself continues to build.

“What we concluded this year is that dining in New Zealand is in reliable hands,” said Tyack.