The Wellington hospitality industry has acknowledged the outstanding abilities of its own with the announcement of the 2020 winners of the Felix Wellington Hospitality Awards.

Presented by the Restaurant Association of New Zealand and lead partners Lexis Comply Hub, the awards acknowledge the outstanding hospitality professionals, all of whom are making a positive impact on the local café, dining and drinking scene.

Cuba Street restaurant Highwater Eatery, known for its approach to using local, sustainable and ethical produce, picked up the accolade for best restaurant in the region.

Ground breaking chef Monique Fiso known for pushing the boundaries of Māori cuisine, picks up the award for her restaurant Hiakai.

This year the Restaurant Association introduced three new categories for outstanding community spirit, outstanding innovation and outstanding local hospo hero in recognition for the people and businesses that have stepped up and showed steely determination as we navigated our way through COVID-19.

Winning the award for outstanding community spirit is Kapura Catering. Jamie Williams and the Kapura team transformed the business to produce frozen meals and packs. The team worked with The Ministry of Social Development to deliver over 200,000 meals and 35,000 grocery boxes to 9000 Wellingtonians in need, all at cost price.

The Kapura team also started a lockdown legends website where members of the public could nominate someone in the community doing great work to receive a free main meal at any of the Kapura sites.   

Outstanding local hospo hero went to Jackie Lee Morrison who spearheaded a hospitality collective, the Pandemic Pack, to offer a combined delivery service during Levels 3 and 2 of the NZ COVID-19 alert system.

Outstanding Innovation went to At Yours by Visa Wellington On a Plate who created an online directory of food and beverage services offering contactless delivery, click and collect, and/or takeaway during Alert Level 3 of the Covid-19 lockdown. The site was put together in record time, designed to be up and running as soon as the country moved to Alert Level 3.

Wellingtonians looking for an exceptional dining experience can be assured of it this year with Shepherd Elliott of stylish laneway restaurant Shepherd awarded the accolade of outstanding chef for his novel flavours and sophisticated techniques.

Long running eatery Olive picks up the award for outstanding café for its seasonal French and Italian inspired menus in a rustic space.

Great service did not go unrecognised with Davey McDonald of seafood restaurant Ortega,  famed for its attention to detail in service, picking up the award for outstanding maitre’d while Capitol restaurant took out the outstanding front of house team.

Justin McKenzie of C G R Merchant & Co, Cuckoo Emporium and Hawthorn Lounge collected the award for outstanding hospitality professional.

Those looking for a great place to get a great drink also won’t be disappointed with the region’s top notch bars recognised.

Devan Nesbitt of Hawthorn Lounge took out the award for outstanding bartender while Crumpet Bar won outstanding cocktail experience.

Outstanding new establishment went to Newtown’s restaurant/bar hybrid Mason.

Restaurant Association CEO Marisa Bidois said: “Wellington has a vibrant and world leading hospitality scene which deserves to be recognised. Our goal is to recognise those providing an exceptional experience and connect them to one another and the local dining community.

“It has never been more important for diners to get out and try the fantastic array of local dining spots so we hope these awards inspire Wellingtonians to support their locals.”

The winners were announced at an awards ceremony held at Wellington’s Te Papa Tongarewa on November 1.

The Felix Wellington Hospitality Awards Winners 2020

L’affare Outstanding Barista

Madison Veitch, Customs Coffee Supreme

Pernod Ricard Outstanding Bartender

Devan Nesbitt, Hawthorn Lounge

posBoss Outstanding Front of House Team

Capitol Restaurant

American Express Outstanding Maitre’d

Davey McDonald, Ortega Fish Shack & Bar

Southern Hospitality Emerging Chef

Taylor Annals, Egmont Street Eatery

Gilmours Outstanding Chef

Shepherd Elliot, Shepherd

Service Foods Outstanding Street Food/Casual Dining

Soul Shack Chicken

Meadow Fresh Outstanding Café


Restaurant Association of NZ Outstanding Beer Experience

Parrotdog Brewery

The Wine Writer Outstanding Wine & Beverage List

Noble Rot Wine Bar

Negociants Outstanding Wine Experience

Puffin Wine Bar

The National Distillery Company Outstanding Cocktail Experience


Coca Cola Amatil Outstanding Bar

Havana Bar

RIP Global Outstanding New Establishment


Nova Energy Outstanding Regional Establishment

The Botanist

OneMusic Outstanding Ambience & Design

Puffin Wine Bar

Eftpos NZ Outstanding Ethnic Cuisine

Viva Mexico

Red & White Cellar Outstanding Restaurant

Highwater Eatery

Te Papa Outstanding Sales Rep

Stefan Pearce, Parrotdog Brewery

V Pure Outstanding People’s Choice Establishment


Restaurant Association of NZ Outstanding Supplier

Shoots Microgreens

Moore Wilson’s Outstanding Caterer

Sarah Searancke Catering

Menulog Outstanding Hospitality Professional

Justin McKenzie, C G R Merchant & Co/Cuckoo Emporium/Hawthorn Lounge

2020 Wellington Resilience Awards winners

Restaurant Association of NZ Outstanding Innovation

At Yours by Visa Wellington On a Plate

Restaurant Association of NZ Outstanding Community Spirit


Nova Energy Outstanding Local Hospo Hero

Jackie Lee Morrison, The Pandemic Pack

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