Toowoomba restaurant cooks best Chinese food in Australia
UPDATE: Toowoomba's Qi'Lin Oriental Cuisine is running out of trophy space after being named Australia's best Chinese restaurant in the 2012 Savour Australia Restaurant and Catering Awards.
In March, the Hooper Centre restaurant was voted Australia's favourite Chinese dinner destination in Lifestyle Food's I Love Food 2012 awards.
It has been a year of triumphs for the restaurant but changes to migrant worker laws have put its future in jeopardy.
Qi'Lin has traditionally sponsored Chinese workers in its kitchen since opening in 2008. Many speak only very basic English.
New laws dictate they must brush up on their language skills in order to get migrant worker visas.
Qi'Lin co-owner Daryll Scott said finding Australian workers with the skills and desire to produce award-winning Chinese cuisine was nearly impossible.
"You need authentic chefs if you want the true taste and atmosphere - not just for Chinese restaurants, but for Greek, Indian or any other multicultural restaurant," he said.
Qi'Lin had planned to open a second restaurant at the Westridge Shopping Centre.
That scheme is now on ice.
"Most of our workers are on two-year visas - when that runs out, we will have to train our own chefs or come up with another strategy," Mr Scott said.
None of this detracts from this most recent achievement.
"When I saw our competition, I didn't think a little restaurant on the outskirts of the Toowoomba CBD would have a chance," Mr Scott said.
"We were up against some of the really big guys from Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
"When I heard our name, you could have knocked me down with a feather."
The prize will invariably mean a boost for business for Qi'Lin and the team is prepared for whatever challenges the "foodie" community can throw its way.
Oz award for Chinese restaurant
By Stuart Cumming
THE dim sims have proved divine at Qi'lin Oriental Cuisine with the Toowoomba restaurant voted Australia's favourite Chinese diner.
It is news that is yet to sink in for co-owners Darryl Scott and Annette Cheung.
"To win the national favourite Chinese, it blows your socks off," Mr Scott said.
"We have had calls from Hong Kong and the UK from past customers congratulating us."
More than 134,000 people voted across 27 categories in Lifestyle Food's I Love Food 2012 awards.
Qi'lin was awarded the national award for favourite Chinese restaurant.
Mr Scott said delicious food came from ensuring all ingredients were fresh.
He said employing head chef Feng Chang and second chef Feng Cai, both from China, gave authenticity to his restaurant's cuisine.
"What you normally have (at other restaurants) is the Australian version.
"What we try to give you is the authentic version."
Mr Scott said he was grateful to his customers for voting for them.
"This is good feedback for us. It's telling us we are on the right track and we should stay that way."
The restaurant won the I Love Food state award in the same category in 2010.