The Munchies 2012 Awards
The Restaurant-You-Can't-Ever-Get-Into Prize ... Momofuku Seiobo at the Star Casino, Pyrmont. Photo: Quentin Jones
HEY, HEY, IT'S THE MUNCHIES - Good Food's inaugural alternative food industry awards. These are the awards you have been waiting for all year, though didn't know were coming. Think of them as the Logies of the restaurant world. From crumbed pig's ear to soft gelato and Malaysian to Mexican, this was the year in dining and imbibing that was (and, give or take a few days, still is), as seen by Good Food's critics, columnists and writers. And the winners (and, er, losers) are …
The Ricky Martin Award for Latino Overkill
Cute bar? Cute cafe? Menu must feature soft tortillas and soft tacos, ceviche and chorizos, burritos and baleadas (Honduran for ''soft tortillas''). This award goes to the whole of Sydney.
By a whisker … sommelier Dennis Roman wins for best facial hair. Photo: Marco Del Grande
Sommelier with the Best Facial Hair Award
In a field thick with competitors, the sommelier at Uccello at the Ivy, Dennis Roman, wins hands down.
Citation for Services to Steamed Dumplings
To Eric Koh of Mr Wong, for elevating Sydney yum cha to new heights, and to its owners, The Merivale Group, for injecting new flair into an almost-forgotten cuisine, proving that offhand waiters aren't the prerequisite for a great Chinese feed after all.
Ultimate Wowser Prize
The winner is … Steve Poole, the British author for his unappetising book, You Aren't What You Eat, which has given wings to the nascent anti-food movement. Not on our let's-do-lunch list.
The Most Convincing Impersonation of Surry Hills Prize
The winner is … Alexandria, for providing the grounds, or The Grounds of Alexandria to be precise, to prove if you can make a collection of rundown old paint, pie and boot factories chic - think also Kitchen by Mike, Bread & Circus, Danks Street Depot - you can make anything chic.
The Bar Humbug Trophy
The trophy goes to … the NSW government for its complete lack of understanding of, or empathy for, the emerging Sydney small-bar movement when it lumped them in with all of the Kings Cross dives as being the cause of alcohol-related violence. Our conclusion? Small bars: good. Big bars and no public transport: bad.
The Golden Gringo Award
To Frank Camorra for finally crossing the border from down south in Melbourne. By rights, the hotter-than-a-jalapeno chef-restaurateur really should have opened a Mexican restaurant instead of the Spanish MoVida Sydney.
The You've-Got-To-Be-Kidding-Me Trophy
Congratulations to The Abercrombie in Chippendale for taking off this one. We're in awe of your battered, crumbed, deep-fried Golden Gaytime, your deep-fried mac'n'cheese balls and your deep-fried pizza with gravy. Your crumbed, battered, deep-fried medal is in the post.
The Black is the New Black Award
Nominations (though we can barely read them) include Spice Temple, Otto Ristorante, Berta, China Lane, Busshari, Pendolino, Icebergs Dining Room and Bar and Bayswater Diner. But the winner is the new O Bar & Grill on top of Australia Square, for being so dark at night that torches are supplied for the reading of menus. Nice views, however.
The Taking-The-Geek-Out-Of-Greek Award
The winners are … Apollo in Potts Point, Xanthi in Westfield Sydney and The Animal in Newtown. Austerity measures? What austerity measures?
The Someone-Up-There-Likes-You Award
The award goes to … Kerby Craig at Ume, who had a chef's hat tattooed on his neck when he won a hat for Koi Japanese, only to see Koi close. Fortunately, he won a hat for his own restaurant, Ume in Surry Hills, this year. Neck saved.
The Taking the Mickey Award
Won by 28-year-old Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson, he of the remote northern Swedish 12-seater restaurant Faviken, for his don't-try-this-at-home recipes: ''Rose fish, coarsely chopped pieces of its liver and raw langoustine stirred with really good butter, lichens and a broth of forest floor,'' and ''Grilled pine mushrooms, vinegar matured in the burned-out trunk of a spruce tree.'' Got a spruce tree? Buy the book. (Faviken, Phaidon).
The What? What? What Was That? Prize
Noise levels are high across town - at Ms.G's in Kings Cross, The Animal in Newtown, Mexicana on the northern beaches, PaperPlanes in Bondi, The Fish Shop in Potts Point, Crown Street Assembly (now called Bishop Sessa), Chiswick in Woollahra, Pendolino in the city, Red Lantern on Riley in Darlinghurst and Hartsyard in Enmore. And the winner is … sorry, who? I can't hear you!
Most Fashionably Ubiquitous Ingredient of the Year Award
It could have been the liver, or the kidney, but this year's ingredient of choice has instead been the pig's ear. Seen crumbed at Four in Hand in Paddington, in a textural salad with poached chicken and jellyfish at Mr Wong, on a salumi platter at Otto Ristorante and poached in master stock then crisped and served with cucumber and Sichuan pepper at China Lane.
The Kid in a Lolly Shop Award
Proof that you can't give people too many sweet things. First prize goes to the magnificent petits four tray (nay, table) at Restaurant Arras, in the city, which turns every grown-up into a kid again.
The DIY Diner Trophy
Outright winner: Kitchen by Mike at Alexandria. You queue. You point to the food you want, and how much you want. You get your own seat and your own cutlery. You re-queue for coffee or cake. Hell, you may as well cook the food yourself.
The Restaurant-You-Can't-Ever-Get-Into Prize
The nominations are … Momofuku Seiobo, Porteno and MoVida. And the winner is … all of them, and the few people who actually get in.
The All Change Please Award
The award goes to the Donald Trump of Sydney (but with way better hair), Justin Hemmes, for whom all things must change. He turned Lotus into The Fish Shop, Tank Nightclub into Mr Wong and Mad Cow into Palings food court.
The Eat-Streets-No-More Award
The joint winners are: Norton Street, Leichhardt, seemingly unable to claim back its former Italian glory; Liverpool Street, city, where our once-proud Spanish Quarter has been quartered; Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, a veritable culinary wasteland; and now the Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross, when you're not having Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross.
The Tetsuya Wakuda Memorial Trophy
The winner is … Tetsuya Wakuda! He wins for creating a kitchen environment that has provided a foundation for a great new wave of modern dining in Sydney - you'll find former Tetsuya chefs at Three Blue Ducks, Sepia, Sixpenny, Mr Wong and many more.
Citation for the Sincerest Form of Flattery
A medal to every Sydney restaurant that has a Momofuku-style steamed pork bun on the menu. Thanks for the inspiration, David Chang.
Far Queue Award
The winner is … Jamie's Italian, in the city, for not only having a long queue, but for being nice to it, giving it buzzers, and occasionally even feeding it snacks. Runner-up: Mamak in Chinatown, because at least you can watch the chefs make roti bread through the window while you wait.
The Kevin McCloud (from the British Grand Designs) Most Dramatic Entrance Prize
The winner is … QT Sydney for an entrance that starts with red-haired door girls, goes on to a musically adjusted lift, meanders through a lobby lined with vintage suitcases, up a flight of stairs, past a kinetic art installation and into the restaurant, past a wall of wine and a seafood gallery featuring a huge whole tuna hanging tail-to-head and, finally, (at long last) to your table.
The Frank Lowy-Restaurant-in-a-Westfield-You're-Having-When-Not-Having-a-Westfield Restaurant Citation
To Chinta Ria Mood for Love, for creating a delicious little boudoir of a hideaway in the middle of brightly-lit Westfield Sydney.
The Jenny Craig-I'm-Not-Really-Eating-Tonight Prize
Bondi's boom in bars where it's all about the drinks - craft beers, cool spirits, natural wines … but somehow there's pizza and sliders and quinoa salad and suddenly you've had a whole meal to go with it. Shared by Bondi Hardware, the Bucket List, Flying Squirrel, Panama House, Speakeasy … and more.
Shane Warne Memorial Award for Services to the Twitterverse
To the masters of the post-service, pre-service, during-service Twitterverse: @fourinhand @rockpoolgroup @jaredingersoll @birdcowfish @danhong @chefmattmoran and more. The contemporary chefs' version of the bush telegraph runs hot, 24 hours a day. And all the rest of us get to join in.
Most Appetising Performance at the Sydney Opera House Award
The award goes to Michael Pollan, food activist and professor of journalism at the University of California for his How to Eat appearance as part of Ideas at the House earlier this year.
The Black Gold Award
The winner is … Australian black truffles, for finally coming of age. Look for them in July, from NSW and ACT, and Manjimup in Western Australia.