Africa and The Test Kitchen scrapes back onto 2018 World’s 50 Best Restaurant List!


After a year of not having an African restaurant on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list, The Test Kitchen In Cape Town has done our continent proud in scraping in at number 50 at the gala awards ceremony held in Bilboa in Spain this evening. The restaurant was praised for its emphasis on waterless cooking, giving the water scarcity in Cape Town. Last year the restaurant fell to 63rd position, when its arrogance in charging astronomically for lunch service, and for the presence of Chef Luke Dale-Roberts, led to its downfall. 

La Colombe made it onto the 51 -100 List, at number 73 last year, but has fallen right off the list this year, a karmic reaction to its involvement in restaurant politics, which was already evident in its slide at the Eat Out Awards in November last year. 

The number one World’s 50 Best Restaurant is Osteria Francescana, a former number one winner, with its Chef Massimo Bottura saying that 2018 has shown the world that chefs are more than the sum of their recipes. He and his wife Lara Gilmour were proud recipients of their award for their restaurant in Modena in Italy (left). El Celler de Can Roca was a previous winner, and made it into second place, followed in third place by Mirazur in Menton in France, a restaurant at which my son Alex and I ate in February last year. Last year’s number one restaurant, Eleven Madison Park in New York, at which ai was lucky to eat in 2016, fell to fourth place, having undergone a four month restaurant interior change. Gaggan in Bangkok is the fifth best restaurant on the list.

A number of Awards were presented, at an event which broke all records in being the largest global culinary event, attended by ‘gastronomic superstars’, the audience was told :

#.  Californian restaurant Single Thread was named the One to Watch, currently in the 51 – 100 List (farmer and chef husband and wife team right)

#.  The Best Pastry Chef was named as French Cędric Grolet

#.  Dan Barber of Blue Hill was named the Chef’s Choice 

#.  Best Female Chef is Clare Smyth, from Core by Clare Smyth in London, the first female British chef to achieve three Michelin stars. This is a controversial award. (Potato dish left)

#. The Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award went to Chef Gastón Acurio, of Astrid y Gastón in Lima in Peru. In his acceptance speech the chef said that only good things can happen when we celebrate our differences. (Photograph right)

#. Art of Hospitality Award was given to Geranium in Copenhagen

#.  The BBVA Scholarship went to Jessie Liu of Taiwan

#.  Sustainable Restaurant Award went to Azurmendi  

#. Highest New Entry onto the top 50 list went to Disfrutar in Barcelona

#. Highest Climber Award went to Den in Tokyo.

A video summary of the award evening can be seen here:

At the Award ceremony tribute was paid to three leading chefs who passed away in the past year: Cook, author, TV show host Anthony Bourdain; Chef Gaultiero Marchesi, the first Italian Chef to receive three Michelin stars; and Chef Paul Bocuse, who pioneered modern French cooking. 

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants are the following:

1. Osteria Francescana (Modena, Italy)

2. El Celler de Can Roca (Girona, Spain)

3. Mirazur (Menton, France)

4. Eleven Madison Park (New York City, USA)

5. Gaggan (Bangkok,  Thailand)

6. Central (Lima, Peru)

7. Maido (Lima, Peru)

8. L’Arpege (Paris, France)

9. Mugaritz (Errenteria, Spain)

10. Asador Etxebarri (Axpe, Spain)

11. Quintonil (Mexico City, Mexico)

12. Blue Hill at Stone Barns (Pocantico Hills, New York, USA)

13. Pujol (Mexico City, Mexico)

14. Steirereck (Vienna, Austria)

15. White Rabbit (Moscow, Russia)

16. Piazza Duomo (Alba, Italy)

17. Den (Tokyo, Japan)

18. Disfrutar (Barcelona, Spain)

19. Geranium (Copenhagen, Denmark)

20. Attica (Melbourne, Australia)

21. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée (Paris, France)

22. Narisawa (Tokyo, Japan)

23. Le Calandre (Rubano, Italy)

24. Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet (Shanghai, China)

25. Cosme (New York City, USA)

26. Le Bernardin (New York City, USA)

27. Boragó (Santiago, Chile)

28. Odette (Singapore)

29. Alléno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen (Paris, France)

30. D.O.M. (São Paulo, Brazil)

31. Arzak (San Sebastian, Spain)

32. Tickets (Barcelona, Spain)

33. The Clove Club (London, UK)

34. Alinea (Chicago, USA)

35. Maaemo (Oslo, Norway)

36. Reale (Castel Di Sangro, Italy)

37. Restaurant Tim Raue (Berlin, Germany)

38. Lyle’s (London, UK)

39. Astrid y Gastón (Lima, Peru)

40. Septime (Paris, France)

41. Nihonryori RyuGin (Tokyo, Japan)

42. The Ledbury (London, UK)

43. Azurmendi (Larrabetzu, Spain)

44. Mikla (Istanbul, Turkey)

45. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (London, UK)

46. Saison (San Francisco, USA)

47. Schloss Schauenstein (Fürstenau, Switzerland)

48. Hiša Franko (Kobarid, Slovenia)

49. Nahm (Bangkok, Thailand)

50. The Test Kitchen (Cape Town, South Africa)

The very verbose media release about The Test Kitchen’s performance, issued by Manley Communications this morning, follows:

South Africa, Cape Town, 19 June 2018; THIS evening saw a gathering of the world’s greatest chefs in Bilboa, arguably one of the globe’s greatest culinary destinations, for the annual “The World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna”. The Test Kitchen of chef Luke Dale Roberts was placed at 50th at the awards and no. 1 on the African Continent, once again a phenomenal achievement.

Dale Roberts is ecstatic about the award, saying:

My team and I have taken some risks over the last year and worked extremely hard to evolve The Test Kitchen to what it is today. It’s thrilling that it has paid off. I am so proud of what we have achieved with The Test Kitchen and that is has a well-deserved spot on the world food stage.”

Academy Chair for the region Africa & Indian Ocean Islands for The World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna is Capetonian Tamsin Snyman.

She comments: “Crashing back onto the list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards is exactly what The Test Kitchen needs to be doing. This is by no means an easy achievement, given that, along with India, we are the two geographical regions in the world that receive the least amount of traveling voters. This indicates that possibly every voter that experienced The Test Kitchen loved and voted for it! Well done to Luke and his team.”

Previously, The Test Kitchen was placed at 22 and named the Best Restaurant in Africa in the World’s Best Restaurants Awards in 2016. In 2017, Dale Roberts took a gamble to completely reimagine the restaurant, resulting in the dramatic Dark Room and Light Room concept which has been applauded both locally and internationally. Guests start the evening in the moody, lounge-style Dark Room for exquisite tapas and cocktails, before moving to the Light Room which exudes a more formal and airy atmosphere for the remainder of the 21-course tasting menu. Both spaces are finely in tune with the industrial aesthetic of The Test Kitchen’s location, The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock in Cape Town, a repurposed factory setting in a gritty yet hip area of the city.

I am thrilled to see our region back on the global culinary map, right where we belong. This is a direct result of Luke and his team’s total and consistent commitment and dedication to produce the finest food in our country,” Snyman adds enthusiastically.

Innovative approach

This year Dale Roberts pushed culinary boundaries by introducing The Drought Kitchen by The Test Kitchen, in response to the severe drought that Cape Town is experiencing. This six-course reduced-water dining experience runs from April to June 2018, and with this project, Dale Roberts focussed his creative energy on coming up with a solution to the problem of using less water in the kitchen. This ground-breaking concept has set the tone for an innovative approach in the local restaurant scene, while still delivering exceptional gourmet fare.

Dale Roberts explains: “I’ve had to re-evaluate how we approach what we do in the kitchen and the restaurant. From preparation to plating, service to clean-up, everything is impacted by using less water. It’s been an eye-opener, for sure. I’ve been made acutely aware that we need to use less water in our personal and professional lives. The real challenge with our The Drought Kitchen concept is how to maintain the top standards of our restaurants and at the same time make a definitive impact in our use of this natural resource.”


By all accounts, The Drought Kitchen has already made a resonating statement: local media were quick to give it the thumbs up not only for its social savvy but also still delivering an exquisite, and even more thought-provoking dining experience.

The Drought Kitchen also grabbed attention on a political level, and Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde, comments:

The current drought has been difficult for many businesses, but in order for businesses to survive, and thrive, they have to think creatively and innovatively. Which is precisely what Luke has done with The Drought Kitchen and it has helped to preserve the jobs of his team. The Test Kitchen features regularly in the top restaurants in the world lists, and as a result, it is on the must-do lists of many travellers to Cape Town. With each dish served to each diner, the Drought Kitchen is helping to share the water-wise message with the world.”

Global pop-up

While Cape Town was busy with The Drought Kitchen, half the staff of The Test Kitchen, from chefs to front-of-house, joined Dale Roberts in Mauritius for one of the most exciting restaurant pop-ups ever. The Test Kitchen Mauritius at Shangri-La Le Touessrok Resort & Spa ran for six weeks from April to May and was met with great enthusiasm, from media and diners alike with its refined style of food with the addition of exotic Mauritian spices and ingredients.

Dale Roberts says: “The Test Kitchen is all about discovery: whether that is flavour, food, ingredients, cooking techniques… This was a new voyage of discovery for me and my team.”

The Test Kitchen Mauritius presented a tapas menu and two different five-course tasting menus reflecting Dale Roberts’s journey around the world, specially curated to showcase Mauritian spices and flavours at their best. To echo The Test Kitchen in Cape Town’s Dark Room and Light Room spaces, guests started their evening at the Republik Bar area to enjoy the tapas menu with cocktails as associated with the Dark Room. Then they continued their gastronomic journey at the beachfront restaurant, for a five-course tasting menu in tribute to the iconic restaurant’s Light Room. Many of the staff members from The Test Kitchen who travelled to Mauritius had never flown before, and this experience has been truly enriching for them.

Accolades abound

Recently, The Test Kitchen was also placed 46 in the Elite Traveler’s 100 Best Restaurants in the World 2018. These restaurants are voted for by the readers of Elite Traveler, a luxury lifestyle magazine. It is the only restaurant in Africa to be awarded, and one of only six in the southern hemisphere.

The Test Kitchen has consistently been placed in The “World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna” since its opening at the end of 2010: number 74 in 2012; number 61 in 2013 and number 48 in 2014; followed by a massive jump to number 28 in 2015 then the highest yet as number 22 in 2016. It received the Cacao Barry One to Watch Award and it was also named Best Restaurant in Africa in 2015 and 2016.

Locally, The Test Kitchen rakes in the awards year after year with the ground-breaking gourmet experiences it offers. In 2017 it was named Restaurant of the Year in the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards for an unprecedented sixth year running. In 2016, Sommelier Tinashe Nyamudoka of The Test Kitchen also won the Eat Out Wine Service Award. Other local awards include the Best Tasting Menu at the Gourmet Restaurant Awards, and a three plate award at the JHP Gourmet Guide awards.

One thing is sure for the years to come, The Test Kitchen and Luke Dale Roberts will be sure to break new ground, keep innovating and surprise and delight gourmet-lovers around the world.

The Test Kitchen is located at Shop 105a, The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town.  Open for dinner only from Tuesdays to Saturdays between 18h30 – 23h30.


Please note that reservations at The Test Kitchen are online only via The Test Kitchen’s website: Bookings are open three months in advance from 08h00am (South African time). They no longer take reservations via email, however, they will still be able to assist telephonically + 27 (021) 447 2337. 

Bespoke event reservations are open for lunch only from Wednesdays to Saturdays, for a minimum of 12 guests.  For these exclusive reservations, please call (27) (21) 447 2337 or e-mail


Please contact +27 (0) 21 447 2337 to add your details to our waiting list. The Test Kitchen hosts an intimate thirty-five (35) guests per evening.


The Test Kitchen does not offer gift vouchers or certificates per say; however you are able to pre pay for the menu. Once you or your guests have a confirmed booking you can contact The Test Kitchen and confirm the amount that you wish to pre-pay.

For press assistance contact Ian or Lise Manley of Manley Communications on 0861 MANLEY (626 539), email   or visit the Press Room of Manley Communications via

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein


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