It has become a tradition for me to predict the Top 10 Eat Out Restaurant Awards, held at GrandWest later today. This year the Top 10 Award prediction is particularly difficult, as Eat Out has changed its procedure yet again, announcing a Top 30 Finalist List for the Awards this year! Fascinating in this year’s awards will be to see Chefs Luke Dale-Roberts and Liam Tomlin go head-on against each other with their four/three restaurants in the Awards, respectively!
We evaluated Eat Out’s Top 30 Finalist List, and commented on its inclusion and exclusion of restaurants:
#. The exclusion of JAN restaurant in Nice, with one Michelin star since 2016, the world’s best South African restaurant, owned by Chef Jan-Hendrik van der Westhuizen! Nothing in the Eat Out rules precludes a South African restaurant in another country from being eligible for the Eat Out Awards.
#. The bias toward Chef Liam Tomlin is clear, with his Chefs Warehouse & Canteen having won Best Tapas restaurant in Eat Out’s Everyday Eatery Awards announced last month, yet being a Top 30 Finalist too, a first in the history of the Eat Out Awards! A subtle change in Eat Out’s rules, not announced as a major departure, has moved the eligibility date to include all restaurants that opened in November 2016, and no longer from 1 November onwards, which makes Chef Liam’s Thali and Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia eligible too! I predict that Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia will make the Top 10 List, rather than the Bree Street Chefs Warehouse! La Tête benefits from this date change too, having opened late in November!
Before revealing my prediction, a quick word on the judges. In the past I have predicted these with almost 100% accuracy, but this year this has proven more difficult, and Eat Out may have required a non-disclosure agreement to be signed (which would alert such restaurants), as Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly shared with me when I coincidentally had eaten at a number of Finalist restaurants at the same time as she had last year. The most common mentioned judge in addition to Abigail is Chef Pete Goffe-Wood, a judge who was on the Eat Out judges panel for years. He is known to all restaurants, so would be conspicuous by his presence. There has been mention of Andreas Reichmuth of Gastro Foods, and Chef Angelo Scorocco of new restaurant Wood&Fire opening in Pretoria. Eat Out has announced that its panel of five judges will be unannounced as of this year, to provide ‘consistency’ in the judging, a joke given how Eat Out has changed other aspects of the awards!
My prediction for the 2017 Eat Out Awards is as follows, in no particular order. Much like Eat Out, the list will contain ten restaurant names, which means that twenty restaurants will leave the Awards ceremony unhappy! A Top 30 listing has no marketing or ego benefit at all!
# I have rooted for La Colombe for the past two years as being deserving of being the number one restaurant in the country. This year its chances are even better of receiving this accolade, giving the spectacular crash of The Test Kitchen on the World’s 50 Best Awards, to a ranking below Top 50, in the company of La Colombe! It is a shame that La Colombe has entered the restaurant politics arena, and seems so desperate in finding staff and running specials, signaling a struggling restaurant, not the stance of a winner!
# The Test Kitchen remains a contender for the number one spot, having held this position for a number of years, its past performance on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant List having almost automatically guaranteed it the top ranking. But this year this playing field is leveled.
# Restaurant Mosaic at the Orient, and its Chef Chantel Dartnall, has performed very well on international Award platforms.
# Restaurant at Waterkloof: last year Chef Greg Czarnecky was named Chef of the Year, after having struggled to get into the Top 10 List for a number of years, until it cracked the ranking in 2015.
# Marble’s kitchen is headed by Chef David Higgs, once an Eat Out Top Ten chef when he was at Rust en Vrede. It is a good asset for Johannesburg, and probably will cost DW Eleven-13 its slot, as some Johannesburg presence on the Eat Out List is desired. Chef David was an Eat Out Judge last year!
# Chef Ivor Jones of Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia was the backbone of The Test Kitchen for many years, and his departure from The Test Kitchen to head up this restaurant may have cost The Test Kitchen its 2016 number 22 ranking on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list. It is a shame to hear how sexist the kitchen is to its female chefs!
# Greenhouse, and its owner Chef Peter Tempelhoff, stays out of the limelight. Chef Peter is not always in the kitchen, having to travel to the Plettenberg Bay and Hermanus restaurant responsibilities too.
# Luke Dale-Roberts X Saxon is headed by the very talented Chef Candice Philip, who worked alongside Chef David Higgs when this restaurant was called five hundred.
# Foliage and its Chef Chris Erasmus just gets on with his restaurant, not opening more restaurants, and staying in the background.
# Camphors at Vergelegen and its Chef Michael Cooke stays out of the limelight, just doing what he does best, pairing foods to the wine estate’s wines.
The other twenty restaurants on the 2017 Eat Out Top 30 Restaurant list are the following: Overture, Jordan Restaurant, Thali, DW Eleven-13, Jardine Restaurant, Hartford House, Chefs Warehouse & Canteen, Indochine, La Tête, Foxcroft, Faber at Avondale, Fermier, La Mouette, Makaron Restaurant, Mulberry & Prince, The Pot Luck Club, The Shortmarket Club, Terroir, Springfontein Eats, and Wolfgat.
A new Eat Out Award this year is a Chef Award, as selected by other chefs. The rules for eligibility or procedure for selection have not been revealed, and whether it is only the Top 30 chefs who are eligible for this accolade. It is my prediction that this Award will go to industry granddaddy Chef Liam Tomlin, as a consolation prize for his Chefs Warehouse & Canteen not making the Eat Out Top 10 List!
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter: @Ulmenstein Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein