Despite the hospitality industry taking a tough blow from the Covid-19 pandemic, resilience and determination have shone through at this year’s hospitality awards.
Presented by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand, it saw over 20 awards given out to the people and businesses which have kept the hospitality industry humming this year.
Among them were vibrant cocktail bar gin gin, which boasts hundreds of different types of high quality, locally-sourced gin and a seasonal menu, located on New Regents St.
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Earlier this year gin gin owner Luke Dawkins said last year’s lockdown cost the business almost 40 per cent of its revenue.
The bar initially opened on Victoria St in 2018, but the lockdown forced it to find new premises, while it also lost half of its staff.
It went dormant for about six months in 2020 to undergo a complete and costly – but necessary – re-vamp, Dawkins said, telling Stuff previously it would be necessary to “come out stronger to survive”.
“We knew we needed to stand out from the crowd to be able to have a shot at becoming a business that could move forward from the disruptions of Covid,” he said.
After emerging through another set of Covid-19 restrictions this year, which the Restaurant Association predicted would slash revenue to 40 to 60 per cent, gin gin found itself with four awards, including the best new establishment and outstanding bar.
Chef Jackson Melhopt was also voted best emerging chef, while Cory Evans, from The Last Word just a few metres away, won the title for best bartender.
Gatherings, an environmentally conscious restaurant boasting local and seasonally focused seafood and plant-based food, saw its chef Finbar McArthy take home the outstanding chef award.
Fumihiko Takai of Espresso Studio, who didn’t know he was nominated last year until a customer told him, was awarded best barista for the second year in a row.
Meanwhile, 5th Street took home two awards for outstanding restaurant and best front of house team, and ever-popular Smoky T’s won people’s choice once again, plus the award for outstanding street food and takeout.
The awards acknowledged those who were making a positive impact on the local cafe, dining and drinking scene, and represented “the best of the best in the region”, Restaurant Association chief executive Marisa Bidois said.
“The way they have been able to maintain these incredible standards in dining is testament to their resilience.”
She said it was great to see Canterbury’s hospitality scene connecting with its customers after grappling with the Delta outbreak, and the association continued to support businesses owners and future leaders of the industry.
“The awards give us an opportunity to promote the local hospitality community, bringing people together to recognise our achievements in what continue to be challenging times.
“It is more important than ever to connect and celebrate one another’s success.”
Supported by Trents Wholesale, the event was due to take place on November 1 but was postponed for 20 days.
Other awards included outstanding cafe, awarded to Child Sister, which took out the outstanding café award last year, outstanding ethnic restaurant, awarded to Bar Yoku, best ambience and design to Austin Club, outstanding regional establishment to Black Estate Winery, and best wine and beverage list to Cellar Door, which took home four awards last year.
Canterbury Hospitality Award Winners 2021
Meadow Fresh Outstanding Barista
Fumihiko Takai, Espresso Studio
Diplomatico Outstanding Bartender
Cory Evans, The Last Word
Ara Institute of Technology Emerging Front of House
Nova Middleton, Twenty Seven Steps
Tevalis Outstanding Front of House Team
Southern Hospitality Emerging Chef
Jackson Mehlhopt, gin gin
Service Foods Outstanding Chef
Finbar McArthy, Gatherings
Antipodes Water Company Outstanding New Establishment
Burns & Ferrall Outstanding Street Food/Casual Dining
Bidfood Outstanding Café
Nanny Goat Vineyard Outstanding Wine & Beverage List
Coca Cola Europacific Outstanding Bar
Pernod Ricard Outstanding Regional Establishment
Black Estate Winery
OneMusic Outstanding Ambience & Design
Dinefind Outstanding Ethnic Restaurant
American Express Outstanding Restaurant
McCarthy Outstanding Sales Rep
Andy John Allen, Punky Distro
Addington Raceway Outstanding Supplier
HospoStart Outstanding Caterer
White Tie Catering
Potatoes NZ Outstanding People’s Choice Award
Trents Wholesale Supreme Crew Member
Finbar McArthy, Gatherings
Trents Wholesale Supreme Establishment