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The Australian Gourmet Traveller National Restaurant Awards, proudly presented in partnership with Vittoria Coffee and Santa Vittoria, has always been a barometer of Australia's electric restaurant scene.

This year's edition, which treated the country's brightest culinary stars to an exclusive preview of the new Chin Chin Sydney, the hotly anticipated new Lucas Group venue housed in the historic Griffiths Teas Building, raised the bar even higher. The 100-year-old Sydney landmark, that's lain empty for the last 30 years and has been transformed courtesy of acclaimed interior architect George Livissianis, was the perfect backdrop for marking the launch of Gourmet Traveller's 2018 Annual Restaurant Guide.

Co-hosted by Gourmet Traveller's new editor Sarah Oakes and managing editor Pat Nourse, it also toasted the magazines bold re-design and the talent and creativity that makes Australia one of the most exciting places to eat and drink in the world. 

Unsurprisingly, Vittoria Coffee clients had serious reasons to celebrate. CEO Les Schirato presented the Restaurant of the Year award to Adelaide's Orana, a win for owner-chef Jock Zonfrillo who's scored fans for his trailblazing way with native ingredients and the Orana Foundation, an initiative dedicated to creating new food resources for Indigenous groups.  Freds, the Sydney eatery that's won diners over with left-field, produce-driven dishes and a killer wine list was crowned New Restaurant of the Year and Caitlyn Rees of Fred won Sommerlier of the Year.

Meanwhile, the likes of Sydney esteemed Group (Bentley Restaurant & Bar, Cirrus and Monopole) Mr Wong, and Icebergs Dining Room & Bar, Aubergine in ACT, Melbourne's Flower Drum and Estelle by Scott Pickett, Urbane and Esquire in Brisbane and Lake House in Daylesford were all awarded two stars, the stamp of an exemplary dining experience (one that isn't complete without a cup of smooth Vittoria espresso!) One star winner included The Dolphin Hotel, Porteno, Long Chin and Yellow.

Like Zonfrillo, social entrepreneur Ronni Kahn proves that the best hospitality players in the industry combine culinary ambition with a focus on community. Kahn, whose food rescue charity Ozharvest has led the fight against waste in the restaurant industry accepted her Outstanding Contribution to Hospitality award proudly presented by Vittoria Coffee MD Rolando Schirato to roaring applause. Vittoria, the choice of award winning restaurants also previewed its new Vittoria Origins exploring the deep ties its forged with the farming community in Nicaragua, one of the world's remaining producer of the rare Maragogype bean.

Click HERE to watch the Vittoria Origins Video

Of course, no event that brings together culinary forces like Andrew McConnell, Kate Reid, Dan Hong, Kylie Kwong and Matt Moran alongside industry up-and-comers would be complete without high-wattage food to match. Guests were the lucky recipients of the inventive pan-Asian cooking that's seen Chin Chin become one of country's hottest restaurants. Think chilli-fragrant mussels on rice cakes, spiced black pudding with crab-head nahm prik and basil, jungle curry of lobster and crab Panacotta with condensed milk featuring Vittoria coffee, Santa Vittoria Aranciata Rossa Sgroppino with blood-orange sorbet capped off a night of good food and great company - one that saw the hospitality community support each other and commemorate a year of achievements in style while setting the tone for the 12 months ahead.

For the new edition of the Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide, published in association with Vittoria Coffee and Santa Vittoria, buy the September issue of Gourmet Traveller and find the complete list winners HERE.

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