It was a multi-Award day on Monday this week, with both American Express (for the Western and Southern Cape), as well as the Gourmet Guide (National) announcing their 2020 Restaurant Award winners. A week earlier American Express had announced its Gauteng, Free State, and KwaZulu-Natal Awards. There were many similarities in the winners, yet some strange winners in the American Express Dining awards documented in this post.
From media reports the 2020 American Express Dining Awards had been reconceptualised earlier this year, and an all-Johannesburg judging panel of three was appointed. The judging panel was chaired by Johannesburg food blogger Steve Steinfeld of The Joburg Foodie. His two co-judges were Clive Aaron (credentials for this task unclear: ‘who was inspired to train as a chef…’! ), and Kaya FM head Greg Maloka.
Not only was a list of top restaurants in each region announced, but the winners of a number of Award categories created for the first time were also announced, claimed to resemble the World Restaurant Awards. From their media statement: ‘The structure of the programme is now completely aligned with the very best awards programmes around the world’, a total nonsense claim!
Top restaurants missing in these Awards may be due to them not accepting American Express credit cards, skewing the results. The merchant fee for the Amex card is higher than that of Mastercard and VISA, so many merchants do not accept Amex cards.
The 2020:American Express Dining Awards top restaurant list is the following:
Babel at Babylonstoren, Klapmuts, Western Cape
Camphors at Vergelegen in Somerset West
Cavalli Estate Restaurant in Stellenbosch
Eike by Bertus Basson in Stellenbosch
Foliage in Franschhoek
FYN in Cape Town
Greenhouse in Constantia in Cape Town
Hacklewood in Port Elizabeth
Jardine in Stellenbosch
Jordan in Stellenbosch
La Colombe in Cape Town
La Tête in Cape Town
Le Coin Français in Franschhoek
La Petite Colombe in Franschhoek
Overture in Stellenbosch
Protégé in Franschhoek
Rust en Vrede in Stellenbosch
Salsify in Camps Bay, Cape Town
The Pot Luck Club in Woodstock, Cape Town
The Restaurant at Waterkloof in Somerset West
The Shortmarket Club in Cape Town
The Test Kitchen in Woodstock, Cape Town
The Werf Restaurant at Boschendal
Zinzi in Plettenberg Bay.
Abingdon, Midlands, KwaZulu-Natal
Culinary Table Restaurant in Johannesburg
Epicure in Johannesburg
Grei at The Saxon in Johannesburg
Marble in Johannesburg
NCW in Johannesburg
Qunu at The Saxon
Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient, Pretoria.
Saint in Johannesburg
Silver Orange in Johannesburg
The Chef’s Table in Umhlanga
De Oude Kraal in Bloemfontein
Over and above not having heard of four of the Gauteng/Bloemfontein restaurants, and the exclusion of such top restaurants as Wolfgat in Paternoster, Fermier in Pretoria, and Indochine at Delaire Graff in Stellenbosch, the ten restaurant category winners were equally divided between West and East, despite the Western/Southern Cape having a longer list of awarded restaurants, making the Award results questionable. Not one of these, other than the Restaurant of the Year Award, are similar to those of the World Restaurant Awards, as claimed! :
Style Award : FYN in Cape Town
Best Newcomer Award : Eike by Bertus Basson
Service Award: The Test Kitchen
Restaurant of the Year: The Test Kitchen (‘A multi-sensorial dinner that delivers a dining experience of the most extraordinary proportions. From dark through to light, the diner is taken on a gastronomic journey like no other.’) – Main Photograph
American Express Member’s Choice: Saint in Sandton, Johannesburg
Wine Award: Restaurant Mosaic at the Orient
Best-kept Secret Award: Abingdon Wine Estate in the Midlands in KwaZulu-Natal
Pure SA: Marble (‘Conceptualised by the idea of gathering around the fire, sharing stories/conversing and making sure all who enter are warmly welcomed and celebrated, Marble is a world-class restaurant which at its core is so quintessentially tailored to be enjoyed by South Africans’ – phew, what an overhype! )
Pioneer Chef: Chef David Higgs of Marble, awarded to ‘recognise a visionary chef who has introduced creative and groundbreaking innovation. David Higgs has redefined what it means to be a Johannesburg Restaurant.’
With all three judges being from Johannesburg, and three out of ten restaurant category awards going to the restaurants belonging to co-owner Chef David Higgs, the Johannesburg bias is evident, not doing much for the credibility of the 2020 American Express Awards!
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein