Hospitality Business Magazine

Lewisham Awards recognise Auckland’s resilience

Auckland restaurant scene’s glitterati gathered on June 2 at the Viaduct Events Centre to celebrate the 22nd Lewisham Awards.

Around 600 guests attended the masquerade event, which featured glamourous circus acrobatics and a range of gourmet food trucks and cocktail stands to sustain the crowd.

Successfully attempting to prove there is still life in Auckland’s CBD, Josh and Helen Emett won the “Outstanding New Establishment” award for their latest opening, Gilt Brasserie in The Chancery, located just metres from where the now closed O’Connell Street Bistro once attracted dedicated diners for over 20 years.

Directly across from O’Connell St is Cocktail Bar, Kitchen Panacea which took double honours for “Outstanding Bartender” and “Outstanding Innovation”. The popular location has become a go-to hidden bar for their matching of cocktails and sharing plates.

Outside of the city centre Dominion Rd establishment Cazador won awards for their consistent style. Taking out “Outstanding Front of House” and “Outstanding Sustainability”, the multi-generational family-owned restaurant specialises in bringing wild game to the table and a vast array of delicious delicacies .

Chef Kia Kanuta was awarded the title of “Outstanding Chef” for his work at Great North Road’s Ada Restaurant where his incorporation of traditional Māori cooking methods into fine dining has received rave reviews from locals and tourists alike.

The Hospitality Hero for 2024 was named as Peter Gordon for Homeland. The restaurant is due to close at the end of July and hopes to relocate to new premises in the Viaduct vicinity. In accepting the award Gordon acknowledged the challenges that the industry faces.

“It’s been a tough time and tough times are ahead, you are all heroes.”

And industry doyen, Valerie Littlejohn was presented with a lifetime achievement award. The 91-year-old owner of iconic Sails Restaurant recounted memories of fighting for changes to liquor laws and paid tribute to her dedicated family and staff.

The awards chairman Daniel Sullivan observed that difficult economic times served as motivation for the hospitality sector.

“In tough economic times the industry has to give people a reason to come out for that hospitality experience. The innovation in exploring what Aotearoa and Pacific cuisine offers, as well as suburban eateries delivering exceptionally high quality, I believe hospitality in Auckland is among the best in the world.”

The 2024 Lewisham Award Recipients included:

Outstanding Bartender: Cal Ross, Panacea

Outstanding Front of House: Simon Benoit, Cazador

Outstanding Emerging Hospitality Talent: Salvador Fuemana, Botswana Butchery

Outstanding Sales Experience: Craig MacKenzie, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners

Outstanding Producer: Black Sands Brewery

Outstanding Café: Odettes Eatery

Outstanding Wine Experience: Apero

Outstanding Cocktail Experience: Caretaker

Outstanding Beer Experience: The Beer Spot

Outstanding Innovation: Panacea

Outstanding Sustainability: Cazador Restaurant & Delicatessen

Outstanding New Establishment: Gilt Brasserie

Outstanding Local Establishment – North: Taylors on Hurstmere

Outstanding Local Establishment – South: The Bramble

Outstanding Local Establishment – East & Waiheke: The Heke

Outstanding Local Establishment – West: Iti

Outstanding Local Establishment – Central: Northern Line Bar and Social

Outstanding Chef: Kia Kanuta, Ada Restaurant

Restaurant Association Hospitality Hero: Peter Gordon, Homeland

Lifetime Achievement Award: Valerie Littlejohn, Sails Restaurant.