The annual Cuisine Good Food Awards took place last night - with the celebrated title of Restaurant of the Year going to Sid Sahrawat's Auckland fine dining restaurant, Sidart.
For chef and restaurateur Sid Sahrawat, Sidart winning the award, gaining the coveted three hats: the highest of accolades for New Zealand restaurants, means a lot since they changed the restaurant's style a year ago.
"Now it's progressive Indian ... a step above Cassia."
He couldn't say which of his restaurants - Sidart, Cassia and The French Café - he loved more.
The judges liked the concept of Sidart, he said.
"They liked the food story - it's all New Zealand produce but cooked with creative Indian flavours. For us, the main aim is to showcase the regionalism from India but modernise and refine it."
The fish comes from the north, macadamia nuts from New Plymouth, and for dessert, they do a beeswax icecream.
"There's a lot of fun to be had with Indian food, any cuisine for that matter," he said.
Mr Sahrawat was also named the Lewisham Foundation's Outstanding Restaurateur for both Sidart and Cassia this year.
"We're having a lot of fine dining, you can almost call it fun dining."
Gone were the days of elaborate courses, now diners had the option of trying out two or three dishes a la carte, he said.
Would he partner with Uber eats? "No, never, those things are not good for restaurants," he said.
However, the economy for restaurants this year was also not at its optimum, he said.
"I think it's been a hard year for everyone. In general, it's very positive.
"There's a lot of good restaurants opening all the time with the likes of Commercial Bay coming on next year and America's Cup not that far away ... it's going to be very positive."
He has a staff of 65 but said finding the right people with skills could be challenging.
"Immigration is hard. There's not enough people for the amount of restaurants or hospitality outlets we have in the country. Visas can take a long time to be renewed, transferred ... if the whole process was made easier it would be better for the country."