Eatout-best-everyday-eateriesLast week Eat Out dropped the bombshell that it is changing its ‘Best Of‘ awards, awarding an award in 10 categories (five of them new), in each of our country’s provinces, making it a total of 90 ‘Best of‘ awards! The method of selecting the ‘Best of‘ winners has changed dramatically, making the new winners of 2015 incomparable to those of the past four years! It appears to stem from Eat Out‘s desperation to be national, and not to be criticized for being so Cape-dominant in its awards. It makes a mockery of what the Eat Out awards stand for!

Almost three weeks ago Eat Out announced the shocking news that it had separated the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards from the ‘Best Of‘ awards, the latter awards to be presented in October already, in Cape Town and in Johannesburg. Given the news of the award base of what they are now calling Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Best Everyday Eateries Awards (incidentally the name of the ‘Best Of’ award they created last year to award to Chef Liam Tomlin’s Chef’s Warehouse) means that 70 non-Gauteng and non-Western Cape winners need to be flown or transported to the two presentation venues, as yet unnamed.

The 2015 ten Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Best Everyday Eateries Award categories are the following:

*.  Best Asian Eatery

*.  Best Bistro

*.  Best Country-Style Eatery

*.  Best Italian Eatery

*.  Best Steakhouse

*.  Best Coffee Shop (new category)

*.  Best Burger Eatery (new category)

*.  Best Indian Eatery (new category)

*   Best African Eatery (new category)

*   Best Seafood Eatery ( new category)

The category in which Chef’s Warehouse won last year (‘Best Everyday Eatery’) no longer exists, and one wonders in which category Chef Liam Tomlin and his Chef’s Warehouse will receive his award this year. Scraping the barrel is to find the Best Coffee Shop, the definition of which is not provided! The Best Steakhouse Award stands in the shadow of an award of the same name, organized by competitor JP Rossouw and sponsored by Wolftrap. Missing from the list is Best Bacon Eatery (so that Eat Out can award it to its favorite Bacon on Bree, which it has already nominated for a Boschendal Style Award, a joke!), Best Spanish/South American Eatery (given the growing number of Spanish tapas, Mexican, and Peruvian restaurants), and Best French Eatery! Surprising is that there is no Best Butchery Eatery to award to Eat Out darling Andy Fenner!

The Boschendal Style Award is not on the ‘Best Everyday Eateries’ awards list, which means that the winner will be announced at the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants Awards Gala Lunch at the Mistico Equestrian Centre in Paarl on 15 November!

The winner per category per province is based on a mathematical calculation of the number of stars awarded by restaurant users per restaurant for food and drinks (40% weighting), ambience (20%), and service (20%) in the period of 1 October 2014 to 30 September 2015. This is a reflection of how desperate Eat Out is to drive more traffic to its website! A category winner will only be awarded per province if a minimum of ten ratings/reviews have been received per category, and a minimum of five ratings/reviews per restaurant.

The rules set by Eat Out for the Best Everyday Eateries awards seem onerous and difficult to ‘audit’, as they claim they will do. Eat Out will decide into which of its ten categories a restaurant will fall. Each ‘reviewer’ may rate as many restaurants as they like, but may not rate a particular restaurant more than once. Restaurant staff may not review and rate their restaurants. If a restaurant patron has eaten and reviewed a restaurant more than once in the 12 month period how will Eat Out choose one review and rating for it? As all TripAdvisor cynics know, one can get the extended family and friends to rate and review restaurants, at 5 star level, so that they can claim to be the number one restaurant in xyz town/suburb! TripAdvisor has also taught restaurants that one’s competitors can rate a restaurant at 1/5, so that they can climb higher up the restaurant rankings, or lower the star average in the case of Eat Out, as there is no proof that the ‘reviewer’ actually ate at the restaurants! This makes a mockery of the whole ‘Best Everyday Eateries‘ awards!

The question is often asked as to the ‘favoritism’ granted to restaurants that pay to advertise on the Eat Out website. Everything about this new methodology of finding our country’s ‘Best Everyday Eateries‘ seems wrong and therefore will lack credibility! It would be nice if Eat Out could get over its complexes, and keep the Eat Out Awards as consistent as possible!

POSTSCRIPT 26/8:  Eat Out has just announced the price for its Gala Awards Lunch on 15 November, at R1495, down from its excessive R1800 Gala Dinner disaster last year!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  Tel (021) 433-2100 Twitter:@WhaleCottage  Facebook:  click here