The top restaurants in South Africa were announced at the 2019 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards on Sunday 17 November at GrandWest in Cape Town. The best of the best in the industry were celebrated in a spectacular display of gourmet food, creative drinks and top-notch entertainment which had over 700 guests, including some of SA’s favourite celebrities, on their feet.

The countdown from 20 to 11 revealed the names to watch out for, prior to the announcement of the much-anticipated Top 10 restaurants.

Last year, The Restaurant at Waterkloof halted The Test Kitchen’s six-year streak when they walked away as Restaurant of the Year – however this year, it’s La Colombe that walks away as the new number one! The Test Kitchen remains at number 2 for a second year and The Restaurant at Waterkloof is now at number 3.

La Colombe, located in Constantia and well known for their culinary delights, moved up two places from number three in the Top 10 last year. Said an elated Scot Kirton “I could not be more proud of what James Gaag and the team are doing at the moment. It has been an inspirational journey. It’s been a dream since we moved to Silvermist five years ago and we have finally achieved it. The hard work starts now.” Executive Chef James, 31, is still trying to take in the moment. “My team keep me on my toes and inspired every day. The pursuit of excellence is what drives us every day. La Colombe is my home,” says Gaag.

The 2019 Eat Out S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna Chef of the Year is Bertus Basson of Overture and Eike. Bertus not only keeps colourful, true South African cuisine alive; he continuously sets the bar higher for himself and his team. Bertus tells great South African stories through his food – on all levels.

The Eat Out Service Excellence Award went to Test Kitchen, for the second year in a row. Joseph Dhafana of La Colombe was named winner of the Eat Out Wine Service Award; a gentle and humble man with exceptional wine knowledge. FYN was recognised with the Eat Out VISI Style Award, while Jewell’s Restaurant walked away with the Eat Out Retail Capital New Restaurant of the Year Award.  Jennifer Hugé was recognised with the Eat Out John Psillos Award for Outstanding Contribution to Service.

The winning restaurants were determined by the scores of a panel of anonymous judges, headed up by Chief Judge Margot Janse, who dined around the country unannounced and scored the restaurants against the rigorous judging criteria in line with international standards. Although the winners have been announced, the panel will remain anonymous. Not only does this allow the judges to remain on the panel for the coming year(s) for consistency purposes, but the anonymous judging also ensures that the judges do not get special treatment – they need to receive the same experience as any other diner.

Said Margot: “South Africa’s culinary evolution is incredibly exciting and seeing so many new restaurants entering the top 30 is testament to this – we’re surrounded by industry excellence. I know how much relentless hard work and determination goes into perfecting each and every unique experience, which is why I feel so honoured to be Eat Out’s Chief Judge.”

The chefs of the 30 nominated restaurants were given the opportunity to vote for a champion chef amongst their peers and it was Ivor Jones of Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia that was awarded the Eat Out Graham Beck Chefs’ Chef Award. The Eat Out Nederburg Rising Star Award was handed to Katlego Mlambo of The Marabi Club.

Annette Kesler was honoured with the Eat Out Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award. A doyenne of South African food writers, Kesler has had multiple roles as food editor, cook book author and creator of Showcook, along with mentoring many young chefs over the past several decades.

Camphors at Vergelegen received the Eat Out Woolworths Sustainability Award in recognition of its commitment to implementing environmentally and socially responsible practices. The winner was selected by a separate panel of judges, consisting of Sonia Mountford of Eategrity, Karen Welter of the Longtable Project and Pavitray Pillay of WWF-SASSI.

In an exciting turn of events, three new awards were introduced in 2019. The Eat Out Nespresso Innovation Award was awarded to The Test Kitchen in celebration of their ingenuity and originality of their pub pop-up. Ishay Govender-Ypma and Zayaan Khan of the SA POC at the Table initiative received the Eat Out Bridget McCarney Gamechanger Award in recognition of their efforts in creating positive change in how the industry operates. 2019 also saw Dorah Sitole as the first winner of the new Eat Out Irna van Zyl Food Media Icon Award. She has been awarded in recognition of her significant contribution to food content creation and coverage in South Africa.

Selvin Govender, Marketing Director of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said, “I look forward to this spectacular event every year and this year is no different. I would like to congratulate all the 2019 nominees and winners on their achievements. We salute these culinary heroes and encourage the public to get out there and experience these excellent restaurants.”

All the winners celebrated at the 2019 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards are:

Eat Out S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna Chef of the Year: Bertus Basson
Eat Out Restaurant of the Year: La Colombe

Top 10 Restaurants:

1. La Colombe
2. The Test Kitchen
3. The Restaurant at Waterkloof
4. Wolfgat
5. FYN
6. La Petite Colombe
7. Eike
8. Salsify
9. Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient
10. Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia 

Restaurants ranked from 11–20:

11. Camphors at Vergelegen
12. Overture
13. LivingRoom at Summerhill Estate
14. Chefs Warehouse at Maison
15. Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenort
16. Le Coin Français
17. La Tête
18. The Shortmarket Club
19. Tjing Tjing Momiji
20. Rust en Vrede 

Eat Out Service Excellence Award: The Test Kitchen
Eat Out Nederburg Rising Star: Katlego Mlambo of The Marabi Club
Eat Out Retail Capital New Restaurant of the Year: Jewell’s Restaurant
Eat Out Graham Beck Chefs’ Chef Award: Ivor Jones of Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia
Eat Out Wine Service Award: Joseph Dhafana of La Colombe 
Eat Out John Psillos Award for Outstanding Contribution to Service: Jennifer Hugé
Eat Out Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award: Annette Kesler
Eat Out Woolworths Sustainability Award: Camphors at Vergelegen
Eat Out VISI Style Award: FYN
Eat Out Nespresso Innovation Award: The Test Kitchen
Eat Out  Bridget McCarneyGamechanger Award: Ishay Govender-Ypma and Zayaan Khan of SA POC at the Table
Eat Out Irna van Zyl Food Media Icon Award: Dorah Sitole

“For over two decades, the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards have been proudly celebrating creativity, talent and innovation in the South African restaurant world. Year after year we’ve watched as spectacular chefs and restaurants deliver exceptional dishes and experiences while mentoring their teams and paving the way for the top chefs of the future. An incredible amount of hard work goes on behind the scenes and the Awards honour and celebrate their excellence,” said Aileen Lamb, MD of New Media, the owners of Eat Out.



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