South Africa’s shining culinary talents were honoured at the 2016 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards on Sunday, 20 November. The Grand Arena at Grand West in Cape Town was transformed into a luxurious secret garden for the Sunday lunch of the year.
See what the judges had to say about each of the nominees below:
Says Abigail Donnelly, Eat Out editor and chief judge: “The outstanding restaurants celebrated this year show a clever combination of consistency, evolution and playfulness. Rock ’n roll dishes have been created by these stars of the food world. The line-up, which includes regulars, reappearances and new names, proves that it’s not about trends, but rather about pure dedication.”
Other champions that will be announced at these annual food Oscars include the Eat Out Nederburg Rising Star and the recipient of the Eat Out Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award. A separate judging process has also determined the winners of the Eat Out Boschendal Style Award and two new accolades, the Eat Out Retail Capital New Restaurant of the Year and the Eat Out Woolworths Sustainability Award.
Premium luxury vehicle manufacturer Mercedes-Benz aims to live up to its unmistakeable strapline – “The best or nothing” – by showcasing not only its luxury products, but the Mercedes-Benz lifestyle. To this end, Mercedes-Benz has entered into not only the fashion arena, but the world of fine dining, with its sponsorship of the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards.
In practical terms, the brand aims to be the market-leader across all premium automotive segments, and at the same time, bring to the fore what it is like to live in the world of the three-pointed star. This latter point can be achieved through the Mercedes-Benz online lifestyle portal, mbworld.co.za/inspire/, which focuses on art, design, fashion, travel, food, trends, technology and motoring.
In line with the changing face of its market, Mercedes-Benz is reaching out to a new, younger audience through increased online activities. Its sponsorship of the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards is another step into bringing the lifestyle of Mercedes-Benz to a wider audience.
The annual Boschendal Style Award is bestowed on the most stylish restaurant in South Africa.
Hard to define but easy to recognise, style is the elusive element that distinguishes great restaurants from the merely good. But style does not necessarily equal award-winning design: it’s all about the different elements of comfort, décor and atmosphere coming together to create a whole, whether it’s with a cutting-edge contemporary ambience or sumptuous vintage interiors.
Guests need to feel that they belong; chairs, music and lighting shouldn’t be too hard or too soft; and good-looking crockery and polished wine glasses are vital. Of course, décor and design is also key, whether the effect is glamorous, off-beat, classic or sophisticated urban chic.
The winner of the 2016 Eat Out Boschendal Style Award is Marble.
Visit our dedicated Boschendal page to see the rest of this year's 20 nominees for the Boschendal Style Award.
The Top 10 and the winners of the S.Pellegrino Acqua Panna Chef of the Year, Wine Service, Service Excellence and Rising Star awards are chosen by a team of experts who remain anonymous throughout the judging process. Now that the dining stage of their task is complete, we reveal their identities in the video below.
Restaurants do not elect to be judged for the Top 10 restaurants.
With input from the Eat Out community, the judges draw up a list of candidates for nomination. Each restaurant has to adhere to the following guidelines:
- The establishment must have been open with the same highest-ranking chef since November 2015. Changes in décor, closure for winter or other breaks, and staffing changes, other than of the highest-ranking chef, over this time period do not disqualify a restaurant.
- Consistency and excellence must shine through every aspect of the experience.
- The owners and chef should demonstrate total passion for the business.
- They should also be dedicated to uplifting the industry.
- The sourcing of quality produce should be a priority.
The judges dine at each nominated restaurant and score them on the criteria below (out of 100 points). Finally, the scorecards are audited and the winners calculated.
The scorecard for the Top 10 is as follows:
Food and wine (70)
Menu composition and seasonality (12)
– The judges look for balance – on the menu, in the dishes, cooking styles, techniques and ingredients – and an awareness of different dietary requirements.
– Appreciation for the use of local and seasonal produce.
Ethical awareness (3)
Does the restaurant prioritise using ethically sourced animal products and sustainable fish species?
Is the dish attractively plated? Does the food look appealing? Does it match the menu description?
Judges consider the execution of the dishes and the balance of flavours and textures.
Price and value for money (5)
Do you get value for money, considering where you are?
Wine choice (10)
The variety on offer is considered, as well as the wine and food pairings, knowledge of the sommelier and staff, and value for money.
From making the reservation to settling the bill, service can make or break a dining experience. The judges evaluate the attitude of staff; their knowledge of the menu, specials and wine pairings; and their willingness to go above and beyond to accommodate special requests.
The judges consider the spirit of a restaurant and the overall feeling it creates. Do you feel comfortable? Does the interior design speak of careful thought and attention to detail? Are the glasses, cutlery and linen spotless and of good quality?
Judging of the Eat Out Woolworths Sustainability Award
The Sustainability Award is judged by a separate panel of experts including Abigail Donnelly, Pavitray Pillay of WWF-SASSI, Lynsay Sampson of Fairtrade South Africa, Sonia Mountford of Eategrity and Karen Welter of Longtable Project. Eat Out has worked with these partners to develop robust criteria for evaluating restaurants for this award. This award will recognise a restaurant that has made great strides towards being sustainable and sustainably aware. Interested South African restaurants complete an entry form to enter, are required to show proof of claims, and receive a site visit if shortlisted. The shortlisted restaurants are not announced, but will be given feedback by the judging panel.
Judging of the Eat Out Retail Capital Best New Restaurant and Eat Out Boschendal Style Award
The Eat Out Retail Capital Best New Restaurant Award and the Boschendal Style Award are chosen by chief judge Abigail Donnelly in consultation with Eat Out’s panel of critics around the country.
The panel of critics remained anonymous until reviewing for the Eat Out magazine was complete. It includes:
Bernadette le Roux
Colette du Plessis
Diane de Beer
Hetta van Deventer-Terblanche
Ilse van der Merwe
Lisa van Aswegen