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Food, Inside Story

Age Good Food Guide Awards 35th Anniversary

What a night! The World Loves Melbourne enjoyed the celebration of the Melbourne foodie scene at The Age Good Food Guide 2015 Awards at NGV. Melbourne chef Andrew McConnell was the big winner at tonight’s prestigious The Age Good Food Guide awards ceremony in the Great Hall of the NGV International. The creative influence behind Supernormal, Cutler & Co, Cumulus Inc and Luxembourg, McConnell was named Citi Chef of the Year while Supernormal took out New Restaurant of the Year.
We were satiated with a dumpling station, cheese station, oyster station and tables with various tasty treats and loads of pinot noir and Pol Roger. It's been a tradition to bring in comedians as MC and Tom Glesson is one of the best, having the crowd in stitches with his observations on cafes and dining, including his take on "smashed avocado."
As for the Awards, achieving Vittoria Coffee Restaurant of the Year was Braeestablished by Royal Mail Hotel alumnus and 2012 Chef of the Year, Dan Hunter. The Birregurra restaurant is the fastest rising restaurant this year, coming from nowhere to secure three hat status in its first year of operation. The Age Good Food Guide’s three hats are awarded only to ‘the best of the best’ restaurants. The World Loves Melbourne just happened to be sitting at the table with the Brae team by accident. Once the one and two hat awards were announced it was clear Brae was going to receive 3 hats. And Dan Hunter was quick to acknowledge the efforts of the team.
The World Loves Melbourne was excited that another big story of the night was Town Mouse, righly awarded a hat, but also received the new Where To Eat Now Award. Congrats to Christian McCabe (above) and head chef Dave Verheul.
Co-editor of The Age Good Food Guide 2015 Janne Apelgren said: “With a legacy of creating iconic Melbourne dining experiences, Andrew McConnell continues to excite diners and we are proud to name him Citi Chef of the Year. “McConnell has this innate ability to predict how Melburnians want to eat, even before we know ourselves. “From his zeitgeist-capturing no-bookings pioneer Cumulus Inc, it’s little surprise to see the pan-Asian Supernormal take out the Best New Restaurant award.
“We also congratulate Dan Hunter for delivering Brae, a benchmark in contemporary fine dining that respects produce and its seasonality, as it leaps into the Guide with an impressive three hats,” said Apelgren.
Roslyn Grundy, The Age Good Food Guide co-editor, said two talents have been recognised in the KitchenAid Young Chefs of the Year category with Joshua Pelham of Estelle and Timothy Martin of the European sharing the award.
Grundy added that despite contemporary fine dining institutions such as Brae taking the top honours, old school culinary methods were one of the biggest dining trends of the year as pickling and fermenting everything from meat to vegetables start to feature in restaurants throughout Victoria.
“This year, chefs have taken a retrospective approach to modern menus, using traditional ingredients and techniques. We reviewed more than 650 restaurants and couldn’t help but notice carpaccio and Southern American barbecue dishes on everyday menus.”
Grundy noted that restaurateurs have taken a leaf out of the fashion industry’s book and embraced cheaper, louder, more youthful siblings and spin-offs through diffusion restaurants. “Jimmy Grants, Hellenic Republic, Meatball & Wine and Huxtable’s Huxtaburgers all went forth and multiplied, with diners in 2015 seeking a casual night out with friends rather than the full bells-and-whistles experience,” said Grundy.
La Maison du Thé Regional Restaurant of the Year was awarded to Jim McDougall in Stefano’s Cellar, Mildura, while New Regional Restaurant of the Year went to Tulip in Geelong. CBD dining institutions, Attica, Flower Drum and Vue de Monde retained their three hats.
Proud sponsor Citi said of its enduring partnership with The Age Good Food Guide Awards: “This is Citi’s fourth year supporting The Age Good Food Guide, which recognises outstanding achievement across Victoria’s vibrant dining industry, and we congratulate all of this year’s winners. “Citi has a long-standing commitment to the food and wine industry in Australia and we look forward to continuing this support as the presenting partner of the upcoming The Age Good Food Month, which will be a highlight on this year’s culinary calendar,” said Linda Duncombe, Managing Director, Digital Banking,Marketing and Customer Experience at Citi. 
Vittoria Coffee marketing manager Alice Harrigon added: “Vittoria Coffee is proud to be the principal sponsor of The Age Good Food Guide. While we acknowledge that winning awards isn’t what drives Australia’s finest chefs, restaurateurs, sommeliers and floor staff, it’s still important to recognise and celebrate those striving for excellence. So to all the award recipients and your teams, Vittoria Coffee raises a glass to you in congratulations.”
Apelgren concluded: “This year marks a milestone with The Age Good Food Guide as we celebrate our 35th anniversary. We are proud to work with our key sponsors, Citi and Vittoria Coffee whose support ensures we retain our integrity as the leading authority on the best food and wine.”
The Good Food Guide is brought to you by the Fairfax Good Food Network including The Age and the Good Food section in the paper, The Age Good Food Month presented by Citi, and the ultimate resource for all things eating out, dining in and everything in between 
The Age Good Food Guide Hats 2015
Attica, Flower Drum, Vue de Monde
Cafe Di Stasio, Cutler & Co, Ezard, Grossi Florentino, Matteo’s, MoVida, Rockpool Bar & Grill, Rosetta, Saint Crispin, Spice Temple
Bacash, Becco, Bistro Guillaume, Bistro Vue, Cecconi’s Flinders Lane, Centonove, Circa, Coda, Cumulus Inc, Da Noi, Dandelion, Donovans, Easy Tiger, Epocha, Estelle, The European, The Grand, Hare & Grace, Huxtable, Il Bacaro, Kenzan, Longrain, Maha, Merricote, Moon Under Water, MoVida Aqui, No. 8 by John Lawson, Noir, 
Pei Modern, The Point Albert Park, The Press Club, Pure South, Sarti, Shoya, Stokehouse City, Supernormal, Tempura Hajime, Tonka, Town Hall Hotel, The Town Mouse, Union Dining, 
Woodland House, Yu-u
Gladioli, Jim McDougall in Stefano’s Cellar, 
Lake House, Provenance, Royal Mail Hotel, 
Ten Minutes by Tractor
A La Grecque, Annie Smithers Bistrot, The Argus Dining Room, Chris’s Beacon Point, Du Fermier, Eleonore’s, Healesville Hotel, Kazuki’s, Montalto, Paringa Estate, Port Phillip Estate, Simone’s Restaurant, Tani Eat & Drink, Terminus at Flinders Hotel, Terrace Restaurant, Tulip

The team from Brae (above) stoked with their wins... 
The Age Good Food Guide 2015 – fast facts:
  • Every year, each restaurant is revisited and freshly reviewed
  • 61 reviewers were dispatched to visit and review more than 650 restaurants — from the state’s far 
  • west to the far east, along with the interstate capitals and resorts around the country
  • More than 120 places made the Guide for the first time
  • The reviewing process takes seven months and involves as many as four visits to some 
  • restaurants to check menus, chefs, service, style and ambience.


The Age Good Food Guide 2015 – highlights and trends include:
  • Diffusion brands appeared as top restaurateurs created spin-offs like Huxtaburger and Jimmy Grants
  • Fast food items such as the humble burger and souvlaki are making their place on restaurant menus
  • Pickling and fermenting have undergone a culinary revival 
  • Modern Vietnamese street food continues to be popular with diners
  • In the Guide’s 35th anniversary year, we note Abla’s, Flower Drum, Vlado’s and Florentino have been there since the start
  • Indigenous ingredients wallaby, lemon myrtle and finger lime are increasingly appearing on our plates
  • Two sittings are now the norm for many popular restaurants
  • Headline ingredients of the year include coconut, Asian ingredients, as well as superfoods, seaweeds and succulents
  • Cheeky ingredients are meaty menu favourites, especially beef cheek and pork jowl
  • So-long sous vide – flames and coals are the new black with Southern American barbecue taking over
  • Italian is our most popular ethnic cuisine type, accounting for nearly one in seven of the listed restaurants
  • Crumbs (both good and bad) used for texture in sweet and savory dishes
  • The city remains the heart of Melbourne’s fine dining with 89 entries listed in the CBD
  • Our foodiest suburb is Fitzroy, with 22 entries, plus another 10 in neighbouring Fitzroy North. This is followed by Richmond and St Kilda with 16 entries each
* The Age Good Food Guide 2015 will be available for $10 with The Saturday Age on August 30, from participating newsagents and 7-Eleven stores, while stocks last.
It will also be available in bookshops and online at for $24.99 from Tuesday, August 26.
The Age Good Food Guide Awards 2015 Awards
Vittoria Coffee Restaurant of the Year:
Brae, Birregurra
New Restaurant of the Year:
Supernormal, Melbourne
La Maison du Thé Regional Restaurant of the Year:
Jim McDougall in Stefano’s Cellar, Mildura
New Regional Restaurant of the Year:
Tulip, Geelong
Citi Chef of the Year:
Andrew McConnell
KitchenAid Young Chefs of the Year:
Joshua Pelham, Estelle
Timothy Martin, The European
Champagne Pol Roger Sommelier of the Year:
Banjo Harris Plane, Attica
Donlevy Fitzpatrick Award:
Ombra, Melbourne
Innovation Award:
Rooftop Honey
Sustainability Award:
Lance Wiffen, Sea Bounty
Citi Service Excellence Award:
Angie Giannakodakis, Epocha
Vittoria Coffee Legend Award:
Anthony Lui, Flower Drum
Where to Eat Now Award:
The Town Mouse, Carlton
Best Gourmet Getaway:
Lake House, Daylesford
Local Hero:
Mister Bianco, Kew
Drink Awards
Champagne Pol Roger Sommelier of the Year:
Banjo Harris Plane, Attica
Wine List of the Year:
The Point Albert Park, Albert Park
Best Short Wine List:
Bellota, South Melbourne
Regional Wine List of the Year:
Lake House, Daylesford
Best Drinks List:
Nieuw Amsterdam, Melbourne