Four local restaurants staged a culinary coup at the Cuisine Good Food Awards on Monday, and in doing so shone a light on a region now revered as the best dining destination in the country.

After topppling the metro giants, the respective eateries' chefs, including ultimate winner and Pacifica owner Jeremy Rameka, said the wins were all about produce, pride and identity.

As well as Pacifica being named New Zealand's Restaurant of the Year, The Neat Meat Best Regional Restaurant Award went to Bistronomy, the Neighbourly Best New Restaurant went to Malo, while Elephant Hill also made the winner's list taking a One Hat Award.

Pacifica was commended by the judges for developing a genuine New Zealand cuisine, which drew strongly on fresh and local ingredients.


Mr Rameka said it was about New Zealand honing its own identity and it came down to attitude and the whole approach to food. "We don't need to copy anybody else."

Bistronomy chef and owner James Beck felt the foodie scene in Hawke's Bay had been building for a while and there were a lot of good chefs out there.

"I think the quality keeps on improving as we have really good local produce, great support and a good tourism trade. We wouldn't have opened a restaurant here if there was not such good support."

Mr Beck said the style of food was true to Hawke's Bay and was informed by the surroundings.

"It inspires creativity and we have been enjoying 'Hawke's Bay is the Fruit Bowl of New Zealand' by incorporating lots of different fruits from the height of summer which have been preserved in an interesting way and used in both our savoury and sweet dishes."

Malo head chef Jackson Smith said they too were enjoying the local produce they had good access to.

"We try to use local suppliers, for example our garnishes come from a lady halfway up the Taihape Rd and they are grown just for us."

When asked why local chefs were so successful Mr Smith said they were just going about cooking what they like to eat.

"If you have a good palate then you know what you cook is going to be tasty. Chefs here are cooking what their passion is and I think that comes through in the food."

Elephant Hill head chef Ashley Jones said Hawke's Bay was a great place to work and live and, at the end of the day, the chefs all love what they do.