Each year at Gauchito Gil’s Malbec Day in Melbourne, five restaurants battle it out for the coveted GOLDEN EMPANADA trophy. This year, the competition was tougher than ever, with San Telmo, CHE, The Mill House, Elyros and Gertrude St Enoteca x Little Latin Lucy vying for the prize. Here’s how it went down. 

San Telmo took out the professionals’ choice category in this year’s Golden Empanada competition for the third year running, decided by a group of Melbourne’s top food critics, from Broadsheet, Good Food, the Weekly Review and The Australian. Empanadas were brought into the judges’ chamber, blind – the judges didn’t know anything more than what was inside them – and then scored on the quality of the pastry, quality of the filling, consistency, and, most importantly, their overall deliciousness.

It’s hard to say whether there’s an advantage in being among the first empanadas to be tasted, or the last. On one hand, when you’re hungry, everything tastes good. On the other hand, if you can find room in your stomach for something when you’re completely full, then it must be seriously great. The standard across the board was the highest it has ever been since this competition’s inception – every single empanada was considered for the prize. But there’s no beating San Telmo. Not only did it win first place with its beef empanada, it also took our second place with its corn and mozzarella empanada. Elyros restaurant came third, with its sheep and goat cheese kalitsounia.

Once again, the professionals and the people disagreed. The winner of the People’s Choice Golden Empanada trophy was newcomer CHE, with its smoked beef brisket empanada. CHE is by the team behind Pastuso, and it was the first time Melbourne had had a taste (the restaurant doesn’t open until the end of May). A pretty good way to start, we think.

Thank you to all who came, ate and voted! Until next year, Melbourne.