New kid on the block ‘Rita’ shines
The Wellington hospitality industry has acknowledged the outstanding abilities of its own, with newcomer Rita, which seats just 28 people, taking out the 2018 public vote in the Felix Awards. It also won Establishment of the Year as well as winning accolades for Outstanding New Establishment and Suburban/Regional Experience of the Year at this Wellington’s 2018 Hospitality awards.
Rita has been recognised for its small set menu and intimate dining experience which has been compared to dining in a dolls house.
Organised by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand the awards recognise outstanding hospitality professionals, all of whom are making a positive impact on the local café and dining scene, with the main purpose being to unite, grow and promote the Wellington hospitality industry.
Seafood restaurant Ortega Fish Shack took out Outstanding Restaurant of the Year with its fresh seafood menu served in an intimate and convivial setting. It’s commitment to making you feel right at home also did not go unnoticed with the restaurant winning Outstanding Front of House team.
Recognition also went out to street food vendor Lucky who won Casual Dining/Street Food Experience of the Year. Describing itself as ‘a hole-in-the-wall takeaway joint specialising in the Fryerlated Arts’ this place has won serious cred for its simple menu of just five burgers, fried chicken and chips with gravy.
Creative new fitouts have also been a key feature of a new breed of hospitality establishments in the city, with Lulu awarded for its outstanding ambience and design for its pacific theme.
Individual dedication to the industry and craft were also recognised. Tom Hutchison of Capitol Restaurant was awarded outstanding chef and Outstanding Barista of the Year went to Morgan West of Milk Crate.
The coveted Hospitality Hero of the Year was awarded to Stephen Morris of Avida Bar for his wealth of international wine experience, dry wit and contribution to the success of Wellington hospitality. Stephen’s hospitality career has included the legendary Boulcott Street Bistro, Shed 5 and his own Copita restaurant.
Marisa Bidois, CEO Restaurant Association of New Zealand says “Wellington has always been a hotbed of talent when it comes to dining out. It’s been great to see new places offering something unique cropping up over the last year but it’s also reassuring to see some of the more established establishments still going strong.
“As an industry it’s so important that we take time out to celebrate our success and acknowledge our achievements. We believe it’s important to shine a light on our industry
and make sure we are recognised for the contribution we make to our community and economy. The Wellington Hospitality Awards represent the occasion to do just that – celebrate the hard work and success of the hospitality industry within the region. Congratulations to all winners.”
With all categories keenly contested, this year’s winners truly exemplify what it means to be at the top of their respective categories.
The winners were announced at an awards ceremony held at the Isaac Theatre Royal, guests the enjoyed the chance to catch up with their colleagues over a local offering of food and beverage and entertainment by local jazz band The Wellington City Shake ‘em on Downers, and international DJ duo Sweet Mix Kids.
2018 Felix Wellington Hospitality Awards Winners
- L’affare Outstanding Barista of the Year – Morgan West, Milk Crate
- Jameson Outstanding Bartender of the Year – Benji Irvine, Hanging Ditch
- Burns & Ferrall Emerging Front of House – Georgia Mackenzie, Poquito Bar
- Helping Hands Outstanding Front of House Team of the Year – Ortega Fish Shack & Bar
- Moet Hennessy Outstanding Maitre d of the Year – Chelsea Godinet, Shepherd
- Le Cordon Bleu Emerging Chef – Tom Millot, Frenchie
- Gilmours Outstanding Chef of the Year – Tom Hutchison, Capitol Restaurant
- Southern Hospitality Outstanding Café of the Year – Prefab Eatery
- Garage Project Outstanding Beer Experience of the Year – Little Beer Quarter
- Negociants Outstanding Wine Experience of the Year – Noble Rot Wine Bar
- Federal Merchants & Co Outstanding Cocktail Experience of the Year – Hawthorn Lounge
- Service Foods Outstanding Casual Dining/Street Food Experience of the Year – Lucky
- OneMusic Outstanding Ambience & Design of the Year – Lulu Bar
- BCE Catering Equipment Outstanding New Establishment of the Year – Rita
- Nova Energy Outstanding Suburban/Regional Experience of the Year – Rita
- Red + White Cellar Outstanding Restaurant of the Year – Ortega Fish Shack & Bar
- The Recruitment Network Outstanding Caterer of the Year – The Catering Studio
- Harbourside Function Venue Outstanding Sales Rep of the Year – Stephanie Reade, Mineral Wines
- Crombie Lockwood Insurance Brokers Outstanding Supplier of the Year – Moore Wilson’s
- iMonitor Outstanding Hospitality Professional of the Year – Stephen Morris, Avida Bar
- First Table People’s Choice Establishment of the Year – Rita