Sydney's celebrity chefs just got another injection of power, with five of their restaurants being awarded the coveted prize of three hats for 2012 at an awards ceremony last night.
That means there's now five different three-hat restaurants for Sydney-siders to long lunch at – one for each day of the working week – and five chefs with the credibility to bolster their celebrity status and swamp the market with television shows, reality TV appearances, books, magazines and cooking appliances.
Sydney's two new three-hat restaurants for 2012 include Tony Bilson's Bilson's and Martin Benn's Sepia. Both restaurants join 2011 three-hat restaurants, Est (head chef Peter Doyle), Marque (head chef Pasi Petanen) and Quay (executive chef Peter Gilmore), as being considered, at least by the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide, as the city's best spots for a meal.
For Bilson's it was the result of a year of hard work. Having been demoted from three hats to just two in 2010, the restaurant fought solidly to once again obtain the coveted three-hat status.
For Sepia, it's been three years in the making. The restaurant earned one hat in its first year, two in its second and now the three in its third year since opening.
The restaurant also took home the prize for young chef of the year – that going to Terry Robinson, a name we'll no doubt be quoting in the future as we plate up our apricot soufflé – or at least watch the contestants on MasterChef give it a go.
The Chef of the year prize went to Quay's Peter Gilmore.
But for those looking to tone the power lunch down a little, the one-hat category has expanded for 2012, with 37 offered the status last night, compared to 34 last year and 25 the year the before.
According to Joanna Savill, co-editor of the Good Food Guide, Sydney restaurants are finally getting the mix of food, ambience and service right. "People say everything is becoming more casual," she told The Financial Review. "It's the wrong description. It's more relaxed."
New additions to the two-hat category include Spice Temple, Gastro Park, Porteno and Longrain.