Harvest Kitchen named top new restaurant
The dominance of the Barossa Valley within SA's restaurant and catering industry awards is indicative of its growing reputation as a top culinary destination.
That's according to Pete Little, whose 15-month-old business Harvest Kitchen was named best new regional restaurant.
Several other local businesses, including Owen Andrews Catering, Vintners and Fino at Seppeltsfield, also took out awards.
It's been a busy time for Little, who welcomed the birth of his daughter while taking on the new venture with business partner Tracy Collins, a former MasterChef finalist.
Set alongside the modern tasting room of Artisans of Barossa on the outskirts of Tanunda, Harvest Kitchen prides itself on offering "generous, honest and flavoursome" food.
But for Little, the success was as much about a welcoming environment as culinary prowess.
"I hire on personality rather than on skills," Little said.
"I want employees who love coming to work and love what they do.
"I keep them happy so they keep the customers happy."
Part of this lay in Little's determination to create a supportive atmosphere with a strong focus on work-life balance – although the Angaston resident admitted he could be prone to spending "too many" hours a week delivering his passion at the restaurant.
What's happening at Harvest Kitchen is reflective of a wider trend in the Barossa, where the significance of its food is slowly being elevated to that of wine.
"I think how well the Barossa did indicates some changes in the Barossa Valley over the past 12 to 24 months," Little said.
"We've always been an amazing wine region with food to complement that, but we're now reaching a point where we're being taken seriously as a culinary destination.
"We're now seeing people coming to the Barossa and returning within 12 months because they didn't get a chance to experience everything they wanted to."