The Eat Out Woolworths Sustainability Award is considered one of the most difficult to attain. The fact that chef Michael Cooke has earned it for the second time (he also won in 2017) is a testament to the power of his vision. So much more than a check on the seasonality of vegetables, the stringent application process considers everything from fair labour practices at the restaurant to whether or not the chef has personally visited suppliers or attended training sessions on sustainability.
The judges of this award include Pavitray Pillay of WWF-SASSI, Sonia Mountford of Eategrity and Karen Welter of Longtable Project. They visit each restaurant that enters and interrogate their application forms. They asses three categories: responsible sourcing of ingredients; environmental impact; community impact and the wellness of the human element.
The entire Vergelegen Estate is dedicated to environmentally sound practices, and this is reflected in Camphors, its flagship fine-dining restaurant. Serving a multi-course menu could have been accomplished without any consideration for the environment. But the chef and his team have created a dining experience that both learns from over 300 years of heritage and looks towards the future of the food chain in South Africa. “Michael has shown consistency in sustainable sourcing, particularly with seafood,” said judge Sonia Mountford.