BYRON Shire continues to shine when it comes to all things food-ish with two of our local restaurants claiming chefs hats in the prestigious Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide.
Bangalow's Town Restaurant and Cafe has retained it's chefs hat for the sixth year running and Brunswick Heads' up and comers Fleet have scored two chefs hats.
Open for just 18 months Fleet is a tiny establishment located in an unassuming shop front on Fingal St with an open kitchen run by chef Josh Lewis and Astrid McCormack along with barman, Robert Mudge.
With seating for just 22 diners, in addition to their "food hats”, Fleet won Regional Wine List of the Year and co-owner Astrid won the state wide Service Excellence Award with Josh also awarded the Next Generation Award in the Delicious Produce Awards.
"We were really trying hard for the one hat so we were totally shocked to win the two hats,” said Astrid. "And my Service Excellence Award was a complete surprise.”
"We try and keep the food really simple and I think we have matured as a restaurant over the last 12 months.”
Although not trained as a typical "silver service type” host the SMH judges said it was Astrid's welcoming and warm manner as well as her genuine enthusiasm for the wine and food that delighted diners at Fleet.
"At the end of the day its hospitality and being hospitable, making people feel comfortable, and anticipating what people want before they know it themselves,” she said.
Ms McCormack said the restaurants unlikely location, in a humble Brunswick Heads shop front, worked in their favour.
"I think location really sets people to being open and ready for a different and hopefully exciting dining experience.”
The win for Town's owners and chefs Katrina and Karl Kanetani comes after their earlier award of a star and wine glass in the Gourmet Traveller awards.
"We haven't read our review in the SMH yet but we were a little nervous on the night of judging because we knew the reviewers were in the house,” said Katrina.
"Consistency is the secret to running a hatted restaurant,” said Karl. "If you are consistently striving for excellence every night you open, no matter who is in the house, then you are able to meet the challenge when you are being judged.”
"I really want to thank our suppliers like Bay Seafood and Northern Rivers Seafood and especially Dan Hill from Farm Gate Providores who have been with us over the last six years.”
Unlike many other hatted restaurants the Kanetanis also run a cafe seven days a week on street level as well as their award winning restaurant upstairs. This means they put in phenomenal working hours but, "You do what you have to do,” said Katrina.
On top of all this the Northern Rivers has been named food region of the year with Salumi Salami awarded for their Bottarga (dried, pressed and salted mullet roe) at this year's Delicious Food Awards.
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