Put the champagne on ice: the Australian restaurant industry's night of nights is coming to Melbourne. Fairfax Media launched the national Good Food Guide awards in 2017, with the inaugural ceremony taking place in Sydney last October. This year's gala event will take place at Crown Melbourne on October 8, with presenting partners Vittoria, Citi and Visit Victoria, and will be attended by hospitality professionals from around the nation.
Victorian restaurants scooped the pool last year, taking out Restaurant of the Year (Ripponlea's creative Attica), Young Chef of the Year (Kylie Millar, then at Attica, now on her way to Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York state) and Bar of the Year (the Grossi family's Arlechin). Three Victorian restaurants also received the Guide's ultimate three-hat accolade: Attica, farm-to-table Brae and sushi temple Minamishima.
Victoria's awards are the nation's oldest, launched by The Age in 1979. The Sydney Morning Herald followed in 1984, and the Brisbane equivalent kicked off in 2015. Every spring, Melbourne restaurateurs enjoyed the celebration – and hat-dropping heartbreak – of a glittering ceremony to launch the Guide; that there was no awards ceremony in Melbourne last year left a hat-shaped hole in the city's dining landscape.
The return of the Good Food Guide awards is fitting, says Victorian Minister of Tourism and Major Events John Eren. "Victoria is a world-renowned food and wine hot spot, so it makes sense to celebrate Australia's best operators and venues right here in Melbourne." The city proved itself on an international stage last April when it snared the World's 50 Best Restaurants awards, showcasing the city's dining culture to dozens of the world's best chefs.
Attica chef Ben Shewry has just returned from this year's World's 50 Best Restaurants awards in Bilbao, Spain, where Attica leapt from 32 to 20 in the world rankings. "Those chefs absolutely loved coming to Melbourne," he says. "They said how great Melbourne is, how warm the city is, what a great feeling it has. I think it's great to have the Good Food Guide awards here this year. It makes sense."
The Good Food Guide is Australia's most extensive review of the nation's restaurants, sending a team of anonymous, independent reviewers to over 500 restaurants, cafes and bars across the country. Achieving a hat is the pinnacle of achievement for chefs and restaurateurs, and is a trusted mark of excellence for diners.
Good Food Guide editor Myffy Rigby says, "I couldn't be prouder to shine a light on outstanding restaurants nationwide – from rural South Australia, to beachside dining in Western Australia, and hidden gems in Tasmania. Every year, we go in hungry and leave more excited than ever to share these dining destinations with our readers."
The Good Food Guide 2019 will be released in October in association with Simon & Schuster, under the direction of food publishing doyenne Julie Gibbs.