Bakery Hill restaurant Catfish Thai has helped put Ballarat on the destination dining map with its first chef hat won in the prestigious Age Good Food Guide.
The popular eatery now joins a host of regional favourites that have won accolades helping to define Western Victoria as a place worth gourmets making the journey to.
Ballarat chef and food writer Suzi Fitzpatrick who has documented the rise of many new eateries in Ballarat including Catfish Thai has spoken about the challenge among chefs to bring the first Chef Hat to Ballarat in the modern culinary era.
“In the Australian Culinary realm there is no greater achievement that to be awarded hats,” she wrote on her blog The Midnight Oils.
“This year marks the 36th edition of the Age Good Food awards and tonight for the third time in the history of Ballarat a couple of our favourite locals have been invited to attend at the Plaza Ballroom.”
“In our not so glamorous food history we have only been awarded a total of two hatted venues. The incredible La Scala in the late 70s and 80s, Alabi’s in the 90s. Tonight I am incredibly excited to announce That Danielle and Damian Jones owner and chefs of Main Road's Cat Fish Thai have been awarded their first chef hat and Ballarat’s third”
Other regional winners also made western Victoria shine.
Foremost in the list with the ultimate accolade, reserved for just two Victorian restaurants this year, was Dan Hunter's regional gem Brae in Birregurra. Ben Shewry's internationally renowned Attica in Ripponlea was the other winner.
Brae's Dan Hunter was the night's biggest individual winner named the Santa Vittoria Regional Restaurant of the Year while he was singled out as Citi Chef of the Year.
Grundy said while many chefs scattered terms like"local" and "seasonal" about, Hunter was the real deal. "He's turned a tiny town [population 500] into an international destination by sourcing and growing excellent local produce and plating up a snapshot of the day."
Daylesford institution The Lake House scored two chef hats and also won with Meira Harel named best sommelier.
Dunkeld favourite The Royal Mail also kept the culinary flag flying in the far west with two chef hats.
Gladioli, Lake House, Provenance, Royal Mail Hotel, Ten Minutes by Tractor
A La Grecque, Broadgauge, Catfish, Chris's Beacon Point, Eleonore's, The Good Table, Kazuki's, Masons of Bendigo, Montalto, Paringa Estate, Port Phillip Estate, Public Inn, Simones Restaurant, Source Dining, The Stag, Stefano's, Tani Eat & Drink, Terminus at Flinders Hotel, Terrace Restaurant, Tulip
With The Age