The Good Food Guide is back, rating, awarding hats and supporting a changing industry

After a two-year hiatus, The right food guide is back with its hats and scores in a new format with reviews rolling out across NSW and Victoria, awarding hats and hearts to 600 restaurants.

For the first time in its 40-year history, the Guide will award one, two or three hats to deserving restaurants, as well as a new ranking category – a heart, which indicates that this is a place where reviews would cross town because it offers an experience that adds something special to the culinary scene.

nearly 60 Guide criticism from two states points to a hospitality industry trying to balance intense demand for seating with a chronic understaffing that keeps restaurants operating at full capacity.

Thomas Pash, CEO of Hunter St. Hospitality and Pacific Concepts, has led an overseas recruiting drive to find staff for the group’s restaurants Photo: Louis Douvis

“If we ever needed a Good food guide with teeth (one with sheet music and hats) is now,” says Terry Durack, the chief reviewer of The Sydney Morning Herald.

“It’s a roller coaster at the moment as new great restaurants are opening and reservations are strong. But if you peek behind the kitchen door – which is also part of a reviewer’s job – then you realize that some restaurants are still really struggling with staff shortages.

“Not enough staff means fewer opening days, shorter opening hours and more restricted and smaller menus; something the review team needs to consider; and so does the restaurant,” says- he.

“If we ever needed a good food guide with teeth (one with scores and hats), it’s now,”

Industry is responding to shortages in increasingly innovative ways. Thomas Pash, managing director of Hunter St. Hospitality and Pacific Concepts, has led an overseas recruitment drive to find staff for the group’s restaurants, including Spice Temple and Bar Patron in Sydney.

Pash says he met with hundreds of hospitality workers in six countries over three weeks, hiring 120 people. The company will pay for their airfares, visas and temporary accommodation upon arrival, as well as provide them with “ongoing support upon landing, including opening bank accounts”.

Chef Neil Perry says he must rely on training “a new generation of school children” to help fill 110 positions at his Double Bay hot-spot, Margaret.

“My daughter signed up 35 of her teenage friends,” says Perry, who received more Good food guide hats in his long career than any other Australian chef.

“We train them, teach them life skills, job skills and give them a culture, like sitting around a table together to share a lovely staff meal, which we hope will create an environment in which they will want to stay.”

Durack says the Good food guide plays a vital role in supporting the restaurant industry.

Neil Perry on Margaret's Pass.

Neil Perry on Margaret’s Pass. Photo: Steven Siewert

“You don’t help a great restaurant just by telling it it’s awesome, or by inflating the chef’s ego by calling it a genius. You help it by creating restaurant benchmarks that give context and meaning. balance, seeing the restaurant industry as a family and a community, and helping diners make smart, informed choices. Basically, helping good diners find good restaurants, and vice versa.

Callan Boys, publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide 2023, says it’s Australia’s most respected independent guide, meaning places are reviewed anonymously and rated using a transparent and rigorous rating system, and meals are always paid for in full.

“This new edition of Guide will place more emphasis on Sydney’s suburban gems,” says Boys. no hats off to it, but who still offer knock-off food and are an integral part of the city’s food culture. A hole in the wall serving deeply delicious noodles for example, or a take-out pizzeria only offering the best slice of pepperoni. »

the Guide, in a magazine format for NSW and Victoria, will be released later this year.

Good Food’s new White and Gold Restaurant Gift Card is free to restaurants, so every dollar you spend goes directly back to the industry. To visit

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