John Fink hasn't missed a Good Food Guide awards night since Quay was named Restaurant of the Year in 2002 and received three hats in the process – the pinnacle of achievement for chefs and restaurateurs.
"It was an honour to be in such great company, to be considered up there with the greats," says Fink, creative director of the Fink Group which owns harbourside restaurants Bennelong, Otto and flagship Quay. "There isn't a greater accolade in Australia and it makes all the hard work worthwhile. Everybody in the team walks a bit taller when they walk through the door."
Quay is closed for renovations until mid-July when it will re-open with a new look and menu by executive chef Peter Gilmore. (Albeit without the "snow egg" dessert which achieved cult status after a MasterChef appearance in 2010.) The fine diner has been awarded Restaurant of the Year seven times in The Good Food Guide and held three hats for 16 consecutive years.
"Those first three hats set our standard and cemented our relationship with Peter," says Fink, who will soon travel further than he has needed to for previous awards to find out if Quay's golden run is maintained.
This year's Good Food Guide awards will take place at Crown Melbourne on Monday, October 8 with presenting partners Vittoria, Citi and Visit Victoria, and will be attended by hospitality professionals from around the country. 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 hotspot, so it makes sense to celebrate Australia's best operators and venues right here in Melbourne".
The 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. Fairfax Media merged the editions in 2017 and launched the national Good Food Guide awards with a gala event in Sydney.
Often referred to as "the dining bible", the Good Food Guide is Australia's most extensive review of the nation's restaurants, sending a team of anonymous, independent reviewers to more than 500 restaurants, cafes and bars across the country. A Good Food Guide hat is a trusted mark of excellence for diners.
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 2018 in association with Simon & Schuster, under the direction of food publishing doyenne Julie Gibbs.