Chef James Martin is a top UK celebrity chef, and has been connected with Chewton Glen over many years, having worked at the UK’s leading hotel as a pastry chef twenty years ago, and is now set to open the James Martin Cooking School, Bakery, and Relaxed Dining on 1 December. Continue reading →
The Eat Out judges are doing the rounds in evaluating our country’s Top 20 restaurants, from which they will pick their Top 10 Restaurants for 2015, to be announced at a Gala Lunch at Mistico Equestrian Centre outside
Paarl on 15 November.
Last year a number of restaurants made it to the Top 20 shortlist, possibly by default, as the largest number of chef changes ever took place in 2014, making the restaurants linked to those chefs ineligible to be considered for an Eat Out Top 10 award. This affected Hartford House (Chef Jackie Cameron starting her Jackie Cameron School of Food and Wine), Delaire Graff (Chef Christiaan Campbell Continue reading →
I spent eight days in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) last week, in search of the perfect food experience, in a province I had last visited about ten years ago to attend Indaba, and the well-known Midlands area, which I had last visited more than 25 years ago.
The encouragement to visit the province was made more than a year ago by Chef Jackie Cameron, who is the most passionate proudly-KZNer I encountered on my journey, making it her business to support KZN produce, from the Midlands in particular, in using and in marketing it at every opportunity. Jackie has put KZN on the food and restaurant map over the past twelve years that she worked at Hartford House, making the Eat Out Top 10 Continue reading →
As we predicted in our blogpost yesterday, Roxi Wardman was crowned MasterChef SA Season 3 winner last night, and has waved her career at Transnet as an assistant train driver goodbye. While her ‘opponent’ Sipho Mdlankomo is widely liked, there should be no debate about the fairness of the result, as the scoring was shared at every step of the three-stage challenge which the Top 2 had to go through last night.
It was a shock to see the transformation in Roxi’s appearance, from always well-presented in terms of make-up and bling bling jewellery while she was in the MasterChef SA kitchen, to her red/pink hair, heavy make-up, and proudly-visible tattoos which she did not have as a Finalist. We had only seen one piercing above her lip in the past. It seemed as if Roxi could not believe that she had won the competition.
The Top 2 finalists met up in the MasterChef SA kitchen for one last time, and were delighted to see the other 10 Finalists there too, coming in support of the Top 2. An even bigger surprise was the surprise arrival of Roxi’s parents and her boyfriend Byron, as well as Sipho’s ‘boss‘, as she called him, his wife, and their Continue reading →
The Diners Club Winelist Awards for the Western Cape were held at Shimmy Beach Club yesterday, saluting the restaurants in the province, and the standard of their winelist content and presentation. Bushman’s Kloof won best Winelist in the Western Cape. During the course of this week the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal awards will also be presented.
A judging panel, led by wine judge Dave Hughes, and consisting of Winnie Bowman, Nikki Dumas, Fiona McDonald, and Christine Rudman, evaluated 208 winelists nationally, and 100 from the ‘Cape‘, a province which has not existed for years! Diners Club threw the Western Cape and Eastern Cape into one ‘Cape’ pot in reporting on the results and in handing out the awards yesterday! A substantial number of Western Cape restaurants did not enter the competition this year, down from 96 entries last year to 80 this year.
Odd was the choice of venue, being the Bar section of Shimmy Beach Club, which did not have enough parking for the attendees, some walking for more than 1 km to get to the venue. We were welcomed with a glass of Pongracz, and the food was very meagre, being macaroni cheese croquettes and sushi! There was not enough seating for everyone, in a room which had some round tables, a few chairs and couches, but had no presence in making this function special for the award winners, compared to the venue used at the Vineyard Hotel last year. It also was not a finalist for the Winelist Awards! Very odd was using Anna Trapido as the MC, not generally known to the local restaurant wine stewards and sommeliers, in being the editor of the 2015 ‘Diners Club Rossouws Continue reading →
The 2015 American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards have been announced, the Western Cape (39) having a small head start over Gauteng (33) in the number of restaurants on the list of 89 restaurants in total. Five new restaurants have been added to the list: 95 Keerom, Delaire Graff Restaurant, Kitima, and Makaron at Majeka House, all in the Western Cape, as well as The Leopard in Johannesburg.
Restaurants that were eligible to receive an American Express Platinum Fine Dining Award have to accept the credit card as payment, and have to accept a booking for four by a Platinum Card holder within four days of booking. Excellence, creativity, and offering guests an exquisite culinary experience are evaluated.
New head of the American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards is Tamsin Snyman, who also is the Africa and Indian Ocean Islands chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards. She has taken over the Awards management from Victor Strugo, who had been involved for the past 16 years.
Nedbank Head of Corporate Card Services Pamela White said about the awards: ‘The awards continue to reflect the country’s rising culinary spirit and serve as a catalyst in championing the enhancement of the fine dining industry and experience in South Africa. As the exclusive issuer of American Express in South Africa, we are honoured to be associated with this initiative as it not only celebrates South African restaurateurs but also promotes fine dining’.
Last year the American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards list had 95 restaurants, the Western Cape list having reduced by four restaurants on the list, despite having added four new restaurants, therefore a total loss of eight restaurants. Western Cape restaurants no longer on the list this year are La Colombe (probably due to the long period of closure and its new premises not yet operating), Zachary’s, Bukhara, Bombay Brasserie at The Taj, Savoy Cabbage, Kurland Hotel Restaurant, Constantia Uitsig (closed down), and Serendipity’s. The reason for the restaurants dropping off the list may be the tough economic climate, some of the restaurants purposely no longer accepting Amex credit cards due to their high merchant commission rate, or they have been judged to no longer meet the standards. Missing from the Western Cape list altogether but being in a Top 20 Restaurant league are The Test Kitchen, Pot Luck Club, The Kitchen at Maison, Equus, Camphors at Vergelegen, Mondiall, Tokara, Burrata, Springfontein Eats, Indochine, The Restaurant at Newton Johnson, and Jardine at Jordan.
The 2015 Award winners are: Continue reading →
I have not been a great fan of the forced R5 addition to one’s restaurant bill without permission in Streetsmart restaurants, but after attending the presentation of monies to support the good community work for street children it is funding, and hearing what a difference the money makes to the less fortunate at a function held at The Salesian Institute on Thursday evening, my perception about Streetsmart has changed completely.
Established in 2005 by tour operator Margi Biggs as a means of helping street children, and now chaired by committee junkie Nils Heckscher (he has been or currently serves on the board of FEDHASA Cape, Cape Town Tourism, the former Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and Tourism Marketing of South Africa), Streetsmart generated just over R900000 in the past year, and a total of R7 million since its establishment. R5 is added to the restaurant bill per table, irrespective of the number of patrons seated at the table. This money is transferred to Streetsmart once a month. Streetsmart is also collected in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and in India.
Heckscher suffers badly from being in the shadow of his very well-known Continue reading →
Once again the Western Cape has shown that it is the country’s culinary champion in its performance in and dominance of the 2014 American Express® Platinum Fine Dining Awards, which were awarded in Johannesburg last week, and in Cape Town on Monday evening. Of 95 award winning restaurants in the 16th year of review, 43 are from the Western Cape, 35 from Gauteng, 9 from KwaZulu Natal, and another eight from other provinces.
Evaluated by a judging panel consisting of Anna Trapido (previous Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant judge) and Victor Strugo, under the chairmanship of Tamsin Snyman, the Award-winning restaurants had to meet the criteria of offering ‘culinary excellence to discerning diners’. Eligibility for Continue reading →
More Western Cape restaurants were recognised for their winelist quality than those in other provinces, it was announced at the Diner’s Club Winelist Awards 2012 yesterday. A total of 30 Western Cape restaurants won a Diamond Award, 36 received a Platinum Award, 25 received Gold Awards, and two received Silver Awards. La Colombe was recognised as having the best winelist in the province, and its Ewan Mackenzie was acknowledged as the Best Wine Steward.
Judged by MasterChef SA judge Pete Goffe-Wood, Cape Wine Academy head Marilyn Cooper, Winestyle owner Nikki Dumas, restaurant reviewer JP Rossouw, Fiona McDonald, Christine Rudman, last year’s Diner’s Club Young Winemaker of the Year winner Matthew van Heerden, a panel which was chaired by David Hughes. The Diner’s Club Winelist Awards has been run for more than twenty years. The judges evaluated the winelists on the basis of creativity; choice offered in respect of ‘price, producer and area’; the range of wines-by-the-glass offered; the range of price points offered; the listing of boutique winery brands; the description of the wines; guidelines for food and wine pairing; vintage information; and the overall impression, layout and legibility.
Diamond Award winners, scoring 91% or more for their winelists, are: 96 Winery Road, Abalone House in Paternoster, Aubergine Restaurant, Azure at the Twelve Apostles Hotel, Bientang’s Cave in Hermanus, Bombay Brasserie, Bosman’s at Grande Roche, B’s Steak House in Hermanus, Bushman’s Kloof, Catharina’s at Steenberg hotel, Dash at the Queen Victoria hotel, Durbanville Golf Club, Ellerman House, Flavours at the Devon Valley hotel, Harvey’s at the Winchester Mansions, Karibu in the V&A Waterfront, La Colombe, Makaron Restaurant at Majeka House, Monneaux Restaurant at the Franschhoek Country House, Mint at The Taj, Pure at the Hout Bay Manor, Rust en Vrede, Signal at the Cape Grace hotel, The Atlantic Grill at the Table Bay hotel, The Bayside Café, The Mount Nelson hotel, The Plettenberg hotel, The Square at The Vineyard hotel, Tokara, and Zachary’s at Pezula.
The Platinum Award category (81 – 90%) was won by the winelist of Pierneef à La Motte, and other winners were 95 Keerom, Belthazar, Blakes, Blowfish, Buitenverwachting, Balducci’s, Carne, Chatters Bistro, City Grill, Cru Cafè, Den Anker, Greek Fisherman, La Capannina, Meloncino, Milkwood in Hermanus, Panama Jacks, Peddlars on the Bend, Pembreys Bistro, Pistachio, Simola Hotel, Surval Boutique Olive Estate, The Garden Lounge, The George, Hussar Grill branches in Green Point, Camps Bay, Steenberg, Stellenbosch, Willowbridge, and Rondebosch, The Slug and Lettuce in Newlands, The Wild Fig, Turbine Boutique Hotel, Wild Peacock Food Emporium, and La Pentola in Hermanus.
Surprising was the low score of the winelist of The Roundhouse, its Gold Award (71 – 80%) putting it into a category dominated by Col’Cacchio Pizzeria branches. Notable exclusions from the Awards list (signalling that they did not enter, or predominantly offer their own wines if the restaurant is located on a wine estate) are Grande Provence, The Tasting Room, Le Franschhoek, Delaire Graff, Overture, Terroir, Waterkloof, Burrata, The Test Kitchen, The Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenhort, Nobu, and Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine.
POSTSCRIPT 18/9: La Colombe has informed us that they have also won the Best Winelist in South Africa, in addition to being the best in the Western Cape! We have been promised the national results on Friday.
POSTCRIPT 19/9: La Colombe Chef and Manager Scot Kirton has corrected its Diner’s Club Winelist Award achievement, as follows: “May we please offer a correction and our humble apologies. La Colombe was awarded best winelist in the Western Cape and not the entire South Africa. Perhaps in his excitement our Scottish Wine Steward got a little over excited and forgot that the Western Cape is not the entire South Africa We apologise for the misinformation and we abide by the National results out on Friday”.
POSTSCRIPT 21/9: The national Diner’s Club Restaurant Winelist Award winners were announced today, and La Colombe did indeed take the honours of having the best winelist in the country! Ewan Mackenzie also took the national honours as best Wine Steward in South Africa.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
The number of 2012 American Express Platinum Fine Dining Programme restaurants has dropped for the first time in its 14 year history, down from 88 restaurants in 2011 to 78 this year, with twelve of last year’s winners having closed their doors, reports Chef!. This demonstrates the severity of the hospitality crisis.
The dominance of the Western Cape, with 33 of the 78 awards, highlights that the province is the cuisine capital of South Africa. New award entrants are also largely from the Cape, being Nobu, Bistro Sixteen82, Planet Restaurant, Reuben’s at the One&Only, and Pierneef à La Motte, out of eight new entrants. Three re-admissions are The Restaurant at Grande Provence (photograph), Bosman’s at the Grande Roche Hotel, and Saagries in Johannesburg.
Chefs said that the recognition is welcome, in being a member of the fine dining programme, given the difficult time of the year, after a very long and bleak winter. The major criterion for consideration by the Programme organiser Tamsin Snyman, in partnership with restaurant critic Victor Strugo, is accepting payment by American Express, which may have disqualified many other top restaurants (such as Dash, The Test Kitchen, Casparus, Johan’s @ Longridge, Terroir, Waterkloof, Indochine, Tokara, and Delaire Graff) from being eligible for evaluation. The judges evaluated the quality and creativity of the cuisine, the service, the wine list, decor and ambiance, the overall excellence, and acceptance of a booking for a table of four on the same day.
Eight of last year’s Programme restaurants did not make the 2012 list, including Rust en Vrede (probably due to the departure of Chef David Higgs), Haute Cabriére Cellar Restaurant (probably due to the recent change in chef), Emily’s, Myoga, Bizerca and Belthazar. Snyman said that ‘there is an increasing mediocrity on the South African fine dining restaurant scene’, reports Chef! The restaurants that have closed their doors in the past year include Auberge Michel, Linger Longer, Jardine, and Hunter’s Country Restaurant.
The 2102 American Express Platinum Fine Dining Programme restaurants are as follows, according to Business Day:
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage