I met with Chef Reuben Riffel in December, for a coffee date at Crisp. I spoke to him about going to Racine, his second restaurant in Franschhoek which he opened two years ago, and he requested that he accompany me to Racine. Last Thursday our diaries both had a lunch opening, and we met for what was an early but long lunch.
He told me that the idea of the second restaurant arose when Chamonix wine estate owner Chris Hellinger ate at Reuben’s Franschhoek, and suggested that Chef Reuben take over what was already a vacant restaurant, after the owners of the former Mon Plaisir had left. The rental offer by Mr Hellinger was a very generous one, and Chef Nico Pretorius working with Chef Reuben at the One&Only Cape Town was looking for growth, so Chef Reuben signed the lease and offered Chef Nico the job two years ago. I met Chef Nico when I arrived, and he seems very quiet and introverted, not returning to our table during our three-hour lunch.
Having only been to Racine once before, I had not noticed that Racine has its own entrance, Continue reading →
The invitation I received from new Babylonstoren Food & Beverage Manager Simoné Rossouw did not reveal what a special honour it was to be invited to the third anniversary celebration of the innovative wine estate, with a top restaurant, boutique hotel, wellness spa, wine tasting and shop, and retail outlet.
We met outside the retail area, which has been expanded to add the shop which originally was located opposite Babel restaurant. Owner Karen Roos (with husband Koos Bekker) has created the most amazing transformation of the wine estate, which had commenced behind the scenes three years prior to their opening, with their GM Terry de Waal and his team planning and implementing their future direction. Karen is one of the most stylish South Africans, having won most stylish dress awards when they were still awarded, and having been the editor of Elle Decor.
We were welcomed with three drink options, being home-made ice tea with waterblommetjie, mint and lime; melon and mint cordial with fresh thyme; and strawberry and rose geranium with lavender and lime. Alternatively one could drink the Babylonstoren wines. On the table was the most interesting ‘pick up sticks’ presentation of smoked salmon and Serrano ham bread sticks. The new Spa will be the reason for a future visit, as I never saw it, being distracted with the extensions to the retail building. Continue reading →
It’s that time of the year again, and this week Eat Out will announce its shortlisted Top 20 Restaurants for the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards 2014. The judges have been furiously eating their way around the country, and top restaurants are licking their lips in the hope of cracking the Top 20 list, from which the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants will be announced at the gala dinner in the V&A Waterfront on 10 November.
* Few companies have made changes to their travel policy in the light of the terror attack threat warning issued by the USA for August. Travel to countries in which embassies have closed temporarily has been put on hold however.
* Nobu at the One&Only Cape Town has launched a new ‘Nobu Lite Lounge’ menu of light tapas-style tasters, available daily from 18h00 – 20h00. The menu features culinary offerings for the lighter-diner, three Lite offerings, served family style for four people to share, including a meat lite option with Beef Kushiyaki, Chicken Anticucho, Pork Belly, and Beef New Style. The Pescetarian Lite option features Salmon & Tuna Tacos, Hot Miso Chips, Tuna Tataki with Ponzu, Tuna Tempura Roll, and Salmon Anticucho Skewers. The Vegetarian option includes Broccoli Chili Salsa and Shojin Tempura. Guests can create their own platters or to select dishes individually. Six-piece sushi rolls as well as a selection of other innovations reflecting Nobu’s unique Japanese and Peruvian mix are also available. (via Manley Communications)
New Media Publishing has released the results of its qualitative and quantitative research conducted amongst top chefs and restaurant diners, respectively, in guiding the 2014 Eat Out Top 10 Awards this year. The proposed changes are likely to improve the image of the Eat Out Restaurant Awards, which reached an all-time low in the past two years.
To recap: Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly lost credibility for offering (undisclosed) menu consulting services to the newly established Makaron restaurant at Majeka House two years ago, a restaurant which was awarded the Boschendal Style Award in that year, personally chosen by Mrs Donnelly! Even worse for her reputation was the appointment of herself as the sole Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards judge in that year, having fired her co-judges (MasterChef SA judge) Pete Goffe-Wood, Anna Trapido (author of the book on Nelson Mandela’s eating and drinking habits), and Chef (and MasterChef SA Culinary Manager) Arnold Tanzer. To fix the dissatisfaction following this fiasco, Mrs Donnelly chose to appoint an unknown British food blogger and occasional online Wall Street Journal newsletter writer Bruce Palling, who proved to be a disaster, with no scruples in divulging his judgement of our top restaurants six months after evaluating them, trashing all but four restaurants, and refusing to return for the Eat Out Top 10 Awards gala dinner because he was not offered a Business Class ticket by New Media Publishing. Not only did we criticise the choice of appalling Mr Palling as a judge, but Top 10 Chef George Jardine Continue reading →
New Media Publishing has just sent its statement regarding the shocking slating of its Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant shortlistby its 2012 international judge Bruce Palling, standing by him regarding his role as judge, and not taking responsibility for his restaurant bashing since 1 February. It does not contain one word of regret about Palling’s appalling behaviour, nor any signal to the restaurant industry that the action by Palling is inappropriate or unprofessional, and is condoning the action by writing that Palling is free to write what he wants to. The media statement does not even share that prior to Palling’s postings they had realised that there is a problem with the Eat Out Awards, and that they have embarked on a strategy to make the awards better.
The statement we received follows:
‘Recent online media coverage related to the 2012 Eat Out Restaurant Awards has prompted us to issue a clarifying statement:
The Eat Out Restaurant Awards is a highly credible annual event that honours and celebrates the best restaurants and top chefs in South Africa, with almost a year of preparation Continue reading →
The Sweet Service Award goes to Chef Peter Tempelhoff of The Greenhouse, for refusing to assist controversial 2012 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant judge Bruce Palling with information about the ingredients of the dishes he ate at The Greenhouse FIVE months ago! Having seen the trashing by Palling of his restaurant colleagues, he understandably refused to co-operate: ‘Unfortunately, I am not comfortable with you blogging about your meal with us- which took place 6 months ago. (actually it was five, but why quibble over a month? –Palling commented). I feel that if you were going to blog about the dinner you should have asked for the menu, or perhaps taken notes during it. I just don’t think it will be an accurate account of your meal with us’. It was no surprise that Palling made a meal Continue reading →
Speaking to some of the chefs whoseEat Out Top 20 restaurants were bashed by blogger Bruce Palling in the past few days, a new picture emerges, in that he appears to have enjoyed our South African wines so much that he seems to have made a number of errors in his ‘reviews’ of the restaurants, writing about them six months after visiting them, misspelling wine and dish names, and even getting the meat types he was served wrong! He has done our country’s restaurant industry great damage and harm, and demoralised our country’s best chefs.
Palling had two bottles of wine per meal on average, and four bottles per day, on each of 15 days, a total of 60 bottles he blogged proudly, now an expert on South African wines too! Some of Palling’s faux pas were the following:
* Ordering Steenberg at Planet Restaurant, which he called ‘Steenburger’!
* He couldn’t spell Biesmiellah and denningvleis, even though he Tweeted about his (private) meal directly from the restaurant!
* He got the Vriesenhof variety he BYO’d at Makaron Restaurant incorrect, mistaking Continue reading →
Poor New Media Publishing. They are bravely trying to fix the image of what was once their prestigious restaurant awards, given the radical decision two years ago to cut the committee which helped editor Abigail Donnelly judge our top restaurants, and has commendably embarked on a journey to engage with the industry to hear its feedback and suggestions. Now its judge for the 2012 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant awards, the UK blogger Bruce Palling, is posting a blow by blow review of each restaurant he was sent to by Mrs Donnelly, for evaluation as a Top 20 restaurant. Not even Mrs Donnelly has sat with the Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant Awards shortlist chefs, to pass on feedback to them.
To save face from the judging debacle of 2011, when Mrs Donnelly chose to fire her judging committee of many years, and appoint herself as the sole judge, New Media Publishing decided that they needed an international judge to give the publication credibility for the 2012 awards. Whoever at New Media Publishing chose to appoint Bruce Palling should be fired, for his vindictive and unprofessional utterings whilst he was in our country as their guest, and currently, seeming to take great joy in slating almost everything about our restaurant and wine industry after having been in our country for a Continue reading →
Before the new working year kicks in tomorrow, when most return to work, we have taken stock of our blog. Last year we had just over 401000 unique pageviews, and the winter Restaurant Specials blogpost was by far the most popular. Most traffic came via Google searches, and interestingly Facebook generated three times the volume of traffic to the blog compared to Twitter. More than 2000 subscribers receive the latest blogpost daily on RSS feed subscription.