Brought to you by Woolworths
In the world of food, where innovation and artistry meet in a delicate dance, the most coveted accolades often grace establishments that are not merely restaurants but culinary havens. La Colombe, nestled in the heart of Constantia in Cape Town, stands as a shining example, where excellence is not just a pursuit but a way of life.
For the past two decades, the restaurant has undeniably left a lasting impact on South Africa’s culinary landscape, boasting a rich history marked by the presence of numerous great and legendary chefs who have graced its kitchen. Founded in Constantia in 1997, it began as a quaint and intimate restaurant that soon garnered attention for its innovative approach to contemporary French and Asian cuisine.
The prestigious Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant of the Year award for 2023 is affirmation of the team’s relentless dedication, passion, and unceasing pursuit of perfection.
According to the esteemed chief judges, this year’s Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant of the Year award wasn’t simply about delectable dishes or polished service; it was about the journey of growth and transformation witnessed throughout the rating process. La Colombe’s commitment to evolution and their relentless pursuit of culinary excellence was evident at every turn.
Eat Out chief judge Abigail Donnelly says, “What resonated strongly with our judges this year was a restaurant that had a real sense of place, and was not just serving its patrons spectacular dishes, but using this medium to communicate. Through the food, and through the service, you really got a sense of who its head chef was and what inspired his menu. There was a different kind of confidence in the food too. Yes, the stalwart dishes were still there, but alongside were brave new plates that, through their ingredients and flavours, paid homage to their locality. It’s a confidence that extended to the pared-back plating too… it was the food, not the crockery, that was the standout hero.”
Winning the Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant of the Year award isn’t just a triumph for La Colombe. It’s a recognition of its role in influencing and inspiring emerging chefs, and redefining the South African dining experience. La Colombe’s legacy is one of artistic refinement, where every visit is more than just a meal.
“I want to give guests an experience that they cannot get anywhere else and memories that stick with them for a lifetime,” says executive chef James Gaag.
With the culinary landscape constantly evolving he says that the most important things are flavour and consistency. “We are constantly testing new and exciting ideas. Some work, some completely flop, but I think those failures are just as important. They teach us and we grow from them.”
“I am an incredibly competitive person, in everything, and I surround myself with people of a similar nature. I feel that competition breeds progress and I am always challenging the team, learning from them as well. I think we all grow with competition. I’m very lucky my staff have the same dreams and aspirations for the restaurant and we all push each other to improve.”
As La Colombe basks in the glory of its achievement, the question that lingers is what the future holds. Will they maintain their excellence? Undoubtedly. But for James, and the entire La Colombe team, the journey doesn’t end with an award; it’s a path of continuous innovation, impeccable service, and an unwavering commitment to culinary excellence.
“It’s got to be a constant search for perfection… knowing that you’re never actually going to get it,” he says.
In a world where culinary magic is crafted on every plate, La Colombe stands as a beacon of artistry, passion, and perfection, where each dish is a masterpiece to be savoured.