An Italian restaurant in Kyneton is home to central Victoria’s best chef and best contemporary dining experience, according to the 2017 Golden Plate Awards.

La Bonta Kyneton was also honoured as having the best menu of local foods in the region and the most outstanding front-of-house person, after being nominated for the awards by the public then judged and scored unknowingly on two occasions.

The judges said the restaurant’s quality of meals and value for money were “exceptional”. They identified La Bonta’s strengths as its “authentic Italian atmosphere and cuisine” and “customer service that adds value to the occasion”.

“Kyneton, it seems, is back to its former glory days,” the judges commented.

After being scored by the mystery critics, the restaurant was invited to enter a chef in the Peter Watson Memorial Cook-off.

La Bonta’s 28-year-old sous-chef David Robson competed in the contest in the absence of head chef Tim Austin.

Mr Robson narrowly missed out on the state title, being honoured as the best chef in the region. He said he was very humbled to win the award.

“It was totally unexpected,” he said. “It gave me the chance to show myself how much hard work can pay off.”

The sous-chef has been working at La Bonta for three years and said his best dish was the restaurant’s scotch fillet.

“I get told I cook a mean steak,” he said. “It’s always fun to cook steak.”

Mr Robson said working regionally had taught him a lot about produce, which was a big focus at La Bonta.

Mr Robson said La Bonta enjoyed a loyal local following.

In the Golden Plate Awards, former La Bonta manager James Bone took out the title of most outstanding front of house person in Central Victoria.