‘Someone has been fired’: Food awards controversy

 

The annual Gourmet Traveller awards are generally well respected in the industry, but last night's ceremony was marred by a technical blunder.

The national awards recognise the best restaurant, chef, wine list, bar and so on, with finalists announced last month and a luxurious awards evening at iconic Bennelong.

But come 7pm last night, everybody already knew the winner of every category.

Merrick Watts was the MC of the evening.
Merrick Watts was the MC of the evening.

The entire Gourmet Traveller winners magazine was sent out to subscribers a day before the awards were announced - all 12 categories with national nominees from as far away as Perth, Brisbane and Tasmania.

Comedian Merrick Watts, who also attended the prestigious delicious Harvey Norman Produce Awards just two nights earlier, was the MC for the evening and before kicking off the awards, addressed the elephant in the Opera House.

Paul Carmichael, executive chef, Momofuku Seiobo. Picture: Tim Hunter.
Paul Carmichael, executive chef, Momofuku Seiobo. Picture: Tim Hunter.

"Now when you hear the winners everyone pretend to be SUPER surprised okay?" he said with over-the-top excitement.

He also made a joke reassuring everyone that the person responsible had been fired.

The Daily Telegraph has contacted Gourmet Traveller to find out how the magnanimous error could have happened.

It sounds like a scene from a movie - realising the wrong file had been attached or hitting the send button a day early, which chaos ensuing.

It's all very My Best Friend's Wedding.

It wasn't the ideal introduction for the magazine's new editor Joanna Hunkin, who doesn't officially start her role until September 2, but the Kiwi import kept a smile on her face throughout the evening.

Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham, owners of Mary's group. Picture: Hollie Adams
Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham, owners of Mary's group. Picture: Hollie Adams

On the upside, Sydney hospitality icon Paul Carmichael of Momofuku Seiobo won best chef and Mary's Underground won best wine list. Kylie Kwong was also recognised for "outstanding contribution to hospitality".

Big names in Sydney hospitality were also out and about, including Merivale CEO Justin Hemmes, Quay executive chef Peter Gilmore and St Peter owner and chef Joshua Niland.

Chef and restaurateur Kylie Kwong Picture: Penny Lane
Chef and restaurateur Kylie Kwong Picture: Penny Lane


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