Armando’s Kitchen. Image Supplied

Hospitality venues and their teams were the key to the success of the 2021 Eat.Taste.Central (ETC) this year, with their enthusiasm and commitment coming from all corners of Central Otago.

ETC campaign manager, Anthony Longman acknowledges their vital involvement, saying, “Each year we have found ways to build Eat.Taste.Central, and as we planned for 2021, another curve ball in the form of COVID-19 arrived. Given the uncertainty and challenges placed on venues, including operational, staffing and supply chain issues, we modified the campaign to inspire and encourage participation as wide as possible, for both venues and customers.”

The People’s Choice Awards and the Judges’ Awards both took a new turn this year, with people voting for the entire experience for each venue, scoring taste, value, presentation and service. 

The Judges’ Awards had a focus on celebrating the people behind creating and serving the dishes, hosting customers, or demonstrating initiative about how their businesses could be innovative and sustainable.

Despite COVID-19 level changes, the campaign succeeded in encouraging locals and visitors and their teams from all corners of Central Otago.

After five weeks of showcasing southern flavours and hospitality, the event culminated in the announcement of the winners at the Mindfood Long Lunch at The Canyon last Saturday night.

The ETC Judges Award winners by category are:

  • Young Talent: Sam Farr, Alexandra District Club
  • Front of House: Mark Button, Waipiata Country Hotel
  • Chef or Cook: Gwen Harvie, Carrick Winery & Restaurant
  • Innovation and Sustainability: Richard and Jolanda Foale, Burger A Float
  • The People’s Choice winners for each category are:
  • Cafe – Tarras Country Cafe, Tarras
  • Cellar Door –  Te Kano Estate, Bannockburn
  • On the Move – Burger Afloat, Cromwell
  • Country Hotel or Pub – Waipiata Country Hotel
  • Restaurant – Centennial Court Hotel, Alexandra

The entries for each category highlighted some exceptional examples of people leading the way for the Central Otago hospitality sector. Judges were unanimous in acknowledging that Central Otago is in good hands given the calibre of entries received.

Anthony concluded that, “Even though the event wasn’t exactly what we had planned, the engagement and excitement from our event partners and visitors has kept its place on the annual events calendar, or menu if you prefer.”


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