October 30, 2023

Victoria Good Food Guide Awards 2024 LIVE updates: Jo Barrett named Chef of the Year; Soi 38 wins the Critics’ Pick

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Who got the hats? Here’s the full list

From one hat to three, here’s the essential list of every hat-winning restaurant from The Age Good Food Guide 2024.

Credit: Marija Ercegovac


Read more about all the major award winners

The Vittoria Coffee Restaurant of the Year is the final award of the night. From the coveted major prize categories to our new awards, Innovator and Critics’ Pick of the Year, let’s recap all the major winners, before we get to the full list of hats.

And the winners are…

Vittoria Coffee Restaurant of the Year – O.My

Three hat winners: Amaru, Brae, Minamishima

Oceania Cruises Chef of the Year – Jo Barrett, Little Picket

Aurum Poultry Co. New Restaurant of the Year – Reine & La Rue

Critic’s Pick Award – Soi 38

Regional Restaurant of the Year – Chauncy

Flinders + Co. New Regional Restaurant of the Year – Kin

Cafe of the Year – Chiaki

Innovator Award – Xavier Prime, Chooks at the Rooke

Oceania Cruises Service Excellence Award – Hannah Green, Etta

Vittoria Coffee Legend Award – Jason Lui, Flower Drum

Smeg Young Chef of the Year – Lily McGrath (MoVida) & Cameron Tay-Yap (Amaru)

Bar of the Year – Bar Merenda

Oceania Cruises Drinks List of the Year – Kazuki’s

Sommelier of the Year – Dorian Guillon, Vue de Monde


O.My named Vittoria Coffee Restaurant of the Year

By Emma Breheny

O.My, Beaconsfield

“The O.My team’s joy in what they do is obvious in every dish they serve and every drink they pour.

“Chef Blayne Bertoncello and sommelier Chayse Bertoncello – two brothers – are totally committed to small footprint eating, building a menu primarily around what they can grow themselves and wasting nothing.

The restaurant has had three different homes, survived a fire and weathered a pandemic, but the team remains steadfast in its commitment.

“Despite their noble intentions, they make environmentally conscious dining a fun experience. I hope this is the future direction of fine-dining,” says The Age Good Food Guide 2024 co-editor Emma Breheny.

Congratulations to the moustachioed Bertoncello brothers!

Sommelier Chayse Bertoncello (left) and chef Blayne Bertoncello outside their Beaconsfield fine-dining restaurant O.My.Credit: Chloe Dann

Chayse Bertoncello accepts the award – after confessing to a couple of tears and a couple of beers – saying: “I love doing this every day with my brother, it’s the only thing I want to do.”


Congrats to this year’s trio of three-hat winners

Congratulations to Amaru for its debut at the three-hat level, and to Brae and Minamishima for retaining their triple-toqued status. The trio each scored 18 out of 20.

Dishes from three-hatters Amaru, Brae and Minimishima (left to right).Credit: Anthony Hart; Colin Page; Bonnie Savage

Note: the previously three-hatted restaurant Vue de Monde is unscored this year, after it closed for a major renovation. Keep an eye out for our first-look at the new-look fine-diner tomorrow.


The Oceania Cruises Chef of the Year is also a hunter, baker and cheesemaker

By Ellen Fraser

Jo Barrett of Little Picket

To describe Jo Barrett as a chef is to withhold crucial information. She’s also a hunter, farmer, fly-fisher, baker, cheesemaker, archer and, above all, a sustainability pioneer.

At Lorne’s Little Picket, Barrett is quietly creating a blueprint for the future of restaurant dining, building on the low-waste, ultra-local ethos she championed at Oakridge, practised full-time at Joost Bakker’s self-sustaining house Future Food System, and shares with the home cook in her new book, Sustain.

Oceania Cruises Chef of the Year Jo Barrett is a keen fly fisher.Credit: Jason South

Ethically sourced wild game might appear on Little Picket’s menu as feral boar dim sims or culled wallaby terrine. Cheese is made in-house, fruit and vegetables come from a nearby eco-farm supplemented with produce locals exchange for a few beers, and the kitchen minimises plastic use, eschewing the Cryovac in favour of pickling and fermenting.

It’s wonderful to recognise Jo in this moment. She’s long championed ethical eating, but what we love about her approach is how accessible she makes it.

But the brilliance of Little Picket is its accessibility. It’s globally significant yet unabashedly Australian, a restaurant you won’t find anywhere else. The cooking is clever and confident and the restaurant is as much a place for the Lorne community (now familiar with rooster Kyiv and venison pie) as the tourist crowd.

Through a dedication not just to quality produce but to where it is grown and reared, and in proving that ethical dining does not need to be exclusive or expensive, Barrett is leading us towards a whole new way of cooking and eating, all from a bowls club in a beachside town.


The Aurum Poultry Co. New Restaurant of the Year is a stunner

By Ellen Fraser

Reine & La Rue

This was the opening that was impossible to ignore this year: the spectacular heritage building, the painstaking restoration, the big-ticket energy.

Not many restaurants are bestowed with instant atmosphere, but Reine & La Rue didn’t let that gift stop it from striving. Instead the Nomad Group gave us super likeable food, sharp service and drinks, and a room that’s as comfortable as it is beautiful.

Melbourne’s newest dining cathedral, Reine & La Rue.Credit: Chris Hopkins


New award: Soi 38 wins the Critics’ Pick

By Ellen Fraser

This year we introduced Critics’ Picks to the Good Food Guide, signified by a new “tick” symbol. The category recognises standout restaurants that might not score a hat, but are no less exciting or essential to our restaurant landscape.

Soi 38 has grown from lunch-only noodle spot to a bustling all-day restaurant.Credit: Eddie Jim

It was no surprise to see Soi 38 take out the inaugural award. Few restaurants are recommended so regularly by our critics to out-of-towners looking for a fiery Thai fix in a unique format – it’s in a CBD parking lot – they can brag about back home.

We love Soi’s deeply flavoured soups, its fiery larbs, its tick-box menu and its crowded dining room. The queue is always worth standing in, although this win might make the line a little longer for a while.

Did we get it right? Cast your vote here:


The Regional Restaurant of the Year is ‘quintessential country dining’

And here’s some further inspiration for your next regional getaway

The nominees

Chauncy, HeathcoteLa Cachette, GeelongLake House, DaylesfordLittle Picket, LorneTedesca Osteria, Red Hill

And the winner is: Chauncy. Congratulations to chef Louis Naepels and Tess Murray (also a Service Excellence finalist).

The Guide says: There’s been an influx of talent into our regions in the past few years and Chauncy, run by young couple Tess Murray and Louis Naepels, shows the magic that can happen when bright ideas meet a gorgeous setting. The sunny sandstone building is full of grace and charm, just like Murray’s service, and French-born Naepels follows the European tradition of cooking what’s grown nearby. In their case, it’s often what’s grown in their own garden. Chauncy really is quintessential country dining.

Louis Naepels and Tess Murray from Chauncy.Credit: Penny Stephens

The restaurateur couple sealed the win with an adorable kiss on stage.


The Flinders + Co. New Regional Restaurant of the Year is in a castle (yes, really)

By Besha Rodell

Kin is remarkable for numerous reasons. Part of a multimillion-dollar renovation at All Saints Estate, it breathed new life into one of the state’s most historic wineries.

It’s modern and fresh, while also being nestled into the side of a 19th-century castle in Wahgunyah, on the banks of the Murray. And it is a platform for the wonderful cooking of Jack Cassidy, a young chef with considerable talent.

Cassidy’s cooking is smart, refined and a showcase for the produce of the region, from the estate itself and beyond. He’s doing some truly exceptional things with native ingredients in particular: where else might you find a green curry broth made almost entirely from native herbs?

Read Besha Rodell’s full review here

All Saints’ castle and Kin chef Jack Cassidy (inset).Credit: Alamy; Jason Robins

And the reaction of the night goes to… Jack Cassidy and the Kin team.


Let’s not forget our icons and institutions

By Michael Harden

At a time when any restaurant that keeps the lights on beyond five years almost needs a standing ovation, longevity alone can attract an “icon” or “institution” tag. Only a few can claim definitive status. These deserve such a shout-out.

Icons and institutions

Abla’s, CarltonThe Abyssinian, KensingtonAmiconi, West MelbourneBuilders Arms Hotel, FitzroyChin Chin, Melbourne CBDCicciolina, St KildaCo Thu Quan, RichmondDainty Sichuan, South YarraEpocha, CarltonFrance-Soir, South YarraGerald’s Bar, Carlton NorthHuTong Dumpling Bar, Melbourne CBDJim’s Greek Tavern, CollingwoodKenzan, Melbourne CBDKirk’s Wine Bar, Melbourne CBDLing Nan, Melbourne CBDMarios, FitzroyMatteo’s, Fitzroy NorthO’Connell’s, South MelbournePellegrini’s Espresso Bar, Melbourne CBDRoast Duck Inn, Box HillSapa Hills, FootscrayShanDong Mama, Melbourne CBDStalactites, Melbourne CBDSupper Inn, Melbourne CBD

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