Coffee and liquor also played a role at the National Salon in August, despite the main emphasis on food.

In the barista section, Johnny Leung of the Brew Group (previously Bell Tea and Coffee) took out the Barista of the Year title. Chief judge Janine Quaid spoke of a more relaxed style of presentation now coming through that showcased competitors’ personalities.

The Bartender of the Year title went to Varun Kumar of Rotorua’s Sudima Hotel and this year’s Cocktail Champion was Suchit Chhetri of Auckland’s Rendezvous Hotel.