Adelaide’s Botanic restaurant won Restaurant of the Year at the annual Gourmet Traveler awards night, which was announced in person at a gala on Tuesday, after being canceled in 2020 and held online last year.
The restaurant, run by chef Justin James and set in the middle of the South Australian capital’s Botanic Gardens, opened its doors just 14 months ago after the gardens’ former restaurant underwent a makeover. James uses plants from around the area, combining native flavors and more exotic botanicals to create a 20-course menu that unfolds over at least four hours.
Accepting the award, the chef said he was “a bit shocked, to be honest”.
“I’ve been to a lot of them and I’ve seen all these great chefs stand up here and take this award, and I said, ‘One day, I hope I can do it.’ I’ve seen the Ben Shewrys, the Dan Hunters, the Neil Perrys come by, and it’s kind of amazing to be standing here.
“The idea I had, of going to Adelaide – everyone said to me, ‘it’s not possible, maybe Melbourne, maybe Sydney’. It’s just pretty amazing.
Gourmet Traveler Editor-in-Chief Joanna Hunkin opened the awards show by paying tribute to the “deep talent, vision and strength that fuels this industry”.
“That’s what saw you all fight through two and a half years of hell and come out the other side. And that’s worth celebrating.
Winners from previous years have appeared at awards held at Shell House in Sydney, also one of the finalists for the Best New Restaurant award; Ben Shewry of Attica was in attendance, as were Neil Perry, whose new venue, Margaret, received Best New Restaurant and Brigitte Hafner of Tedesca Osteria, whose restaurant was again recognized as a state winner. after being named restaurant of the year last year.
Before the pandemic, the magazine compiled a ranked list of 50 restaurants in Australia each year. Last year, however, after border restrictions and pandemic limitations made that impossible, the awards changed to recognize one winner for each state alongside an unranked list of top venues. The format has continued this year, with 82 restaurants appearing on the 2023 list.
Mug Chen and Chia Wu, two Taiwanese chefs who opened the natural wine bar and restaurant Muni in the McLaren Vale town of Willunga, SA, were honored as best new talent, while Thi Le was named chef of the year in the single peer of the night. voted price.
Le, of Vietnamese-Chinese descent and who grew up in Sydney’s west, dedicated her victory to “all the ethnic and Asian girls who want to be chefs and don’t want to be accountants”.
Le has thanked her partner, Jia-Yen, who she says pushed her to open the famous fine dining restaurant Anchovy in Richmond, Melbourne. “I originally wanted to open a chicken shop! So, this is a failed chicken shop.
Le, who now runs Ca Com, a banh mi bar, and Jeow, a Lao restaurant, both in Melbourne, said she has always wanted to champion Southeast Asian cuisine. “Sometimes I wonder if it’s the right thing to do. I think receiving this award means I’m on the right track.
Restaurant of the year
Botanic Restaurant, Adelaide, SA
Restaurant of the Year Winners
Pilot, Canberra, ACT
Margaret, Sydney, New South Wales
Essa, Brisbane, Queensland
Botanic Restaurant, Adelaide, SA
Fico, Hobart, Tasmania
Tedesca Osteria, Red Hill, Victoria
Lulu La Delizia, Perth, WA
Chef of the year
Thi Le – Ca Com and Jeow, Melbourne, Victoria
Best New Restaurant
Best New Talent
Chen and Chia Wu mug – Muni, Willunga, SA
Restaurant Personality of the Year
Shannon Martinez – Smith & Daughters, Melbourne, Victoria
Best Destination Restaurant
Van Bone, Marion Bay, Tasmania
Best wine bar
Paloma, Burleigh Heads, Queensland
Outstanding Contribution to Hospitality
Dani Valent, journalist and food communicator