Celebrated Wānaka restaurant Kika has been named in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Discovery list for the second consecutive year.
The annual awards recognise the best up and coming restaurants and hospitality experiences internationally.
“It’s exciting and a great boost for our team who are incredibly proud to be included for the second time,” says Kika owner James Stapley. “The list is a big deal in industry circles with only six New Zealand restaurants currently selected. I first thought it might be a wind up because how would they know about us down here in Wānaka,” says James.
Contributors and judges to the World’s 50 Best lists are selected for their expertise in their fields and their anonymous recommendations create the rankings.
“Globally the list is now more recognised than Michelin as an industry benchmark because you can’t put yourself forward– it’s up to the judges,” says James.
He is upbeat about the recognition from his peers for his talent in producing interesting and different cuisine.
“At Kika we’ve always done our own thing, not following others. A Kika dish begins with a very natural creative process that’s collaborative between myself and our chefs using the best seasonal produce and excellent cooking techniques.”
As an owner of five Wānaka eateries James says Kika is the perfect representation of what he likes to cook and eat.
“Kika is like my baby – it’s the one I can’ really do without – where I get to experience my full creativity with an amazing team around me.”
Kika has appeared in the annual Cuisine Good Food Guide since 2017 and in 2021 was awarded a hat for exceptionally high standards.
“Locals recognise these awards giving us incredible feedback,” says owner James Stapley.
New dishes are progressively added to the menu each season with Central Otago stone fruit championed for autumn.
“ We have created a little deep fried McKika peach pie which is nostalgic of MacDonalds hot apple pie. We cook down the peaches putting them in the pastry then the leaves are used to make ice-cream that tastes like marzipan and almonds and the stones boiled to make salted peach stone caramel. We are loving it.”