REVEALED: the all-female lineup of chefs to cook at the Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards


Chefs Jackie Cameron, Eleanor Coetzee, Ronel de Jager, Megin Meikle, Motheba Makhetha, Charné Sampson and Carla Schulze will be showcasing their innovation, creativity, expertise and sheer talent at the 2023 Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards.

Taking place at the GrandWest Grand Arena in Cape Town on 19 November, the annual gala event has become a culinary highlight in itself, where the food served reflects South Africa’s dynamic and ever-evolving dining scene.

“Each chef in this year’s all-female star lineup has reached the top of their game in the competitive restaurant industry,” says Melissa Cumming, head of Eat Out. “Handpicked by our chief judge, Abigail Donnelly, each will bring her own unique style, adding up to a fabulous five-course food experience for 800 guests.”

Motheba Makhetha, the sous chef and pastry chef at The Jordan Restaurant with Marthinus Ferreira, says her personal vision extends beyond her culinary prowess; she aspires to foster a nurturing and creative kitchen environment and be a role model for aspiring female chefs. “I feel extremely proud to be cooking on a platform as large as the Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards. To be sharing this space with a group of strong, ambitious, and creative like-minded women is a massive win all on its own.”

Makhetha is co-creating the dessert course with Megin Meikle, the head pastry chef at the Marble Group of restaurants, who says: “I have had the privilege of working in various restaurants celebrated at the Eat Out Awards over many years. It’s a pinch-me moment to move from the dining room to the kitchen, serving the dessert to a gathering of some of the most esteemed chefs in the country. I create, teach and live pastry; cooking at the awards is an accolade all on its own.”

Carla Schulze, executive chef at Salon, is creating the fourth course and echoes this sentiment. “It is a great privilege to be cooking alongside fellow chefs who I admire in a room filled with industry legends who I look up to.”

Schulze is an alumnus of the Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine, and Cameron herself will be creating the canapé course with her current students. She adds: “It’s a huge privilege to give my students a glimpse into the awards, showing them that with hard work and determination, they too can get to the top.”

The menu for the Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards draws inspiration from the rustic textures and flavours of earthy grains. Each meticulously crafted course is a testament to the extraordinary quality of the ingredients, many of which will be supplied by the headline sponsor, Woolworths.

Woolworths’ Food CEO, Zyda Rylands, notes: “Woolworths and Eat Out are a natural fit. Both are committed to inspiring South Africans to eat well, and we’re excited to once again be part of an event that celebrates the best food our country has to offer. This year’s selection of an all-women lineup of chefs aligns with our Inclusive Justice Initiative, which acknowledges the extent to which certain groups in our society are marginalised. We want to help shape a society in which everyone is accepted, protected and respected. An important focus area is gender equality and the empowerment of women in the workplace, which we believe is key to a healthy society, good business performance and economic growth. I can’t wait to sample the unique perspectives that chefs Jackie, Eleanor, Ronel, Megin, Motheba, Charné and Carla bring to the table on 19 November.”

The head chef at the La Colombe Group’s Epice, Charné Sampson is known for her culinary adventures and continuous search for new spices and techniques. She is creating the third course and says that guests will have an experience to look forward to. “Spices to a chef are like colours to an artist. To be cooking at the 2023 Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards is an amazing opportunity for myself and Epice to showcase our passion for spices.”

With her second course creation, Eleanor Coetzee, executive chef at Creation Wines Tasting Room, promises “a culinary journey to engage guests’ senses” that’s driven by her deep love and passion for both food and people.

And setting the scene with a bread course of her stunningly decorated artisanal sourdough is Baard & Co mastermind Ronel de Jager.

Donnelly chose each of these chefs not only for their passion and expertise but also for how they are helping to develop the South African food industry – and inspiring more women to rise through the ranks.

Cumming concludes: “Tickets for the 2023 Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards sold out in minutes, so if you’re unable to attend in person, be sure to follow all the live action on Eat Out’s Instagram @eatoutguide.”

Chefs bios

Jackie Cameron

Jackie Cameron has left an indelible mark on the South African culinary scene. As the proprietor of the Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine in KwaZulu-Natal, she’s lived by her adage “a cut above the rest” and many of SA’s top restaurants eagerly seek out her graduates.

After graduating from the Christina Martin School of Food & Wine in 2001, Cameron began her career at Mount Grace Country House & Spa. From there, she soared. Under her guidance, the Hartford House restaurant earned Eat Out top 10 status four times and claimed the fifth position in the country in 2013.

Eleanor Coetzee

Eleanor Coetzee has been the executive chef at Creation Wines Tasting Room for the past two and a half years. She has worked closely with Creation co-founder Carolyn Martin to develop an exceptional kitchen team.

Eleanor strives to create a dining experience that goes beyond mere sustenance. Her goal is to engage all her guests’ senses, elevating their culinary journey to an educational and enlightening level. She believes that the senses serve as the gateway to the mind, and by exploring them, we can evoke a sense of wonderment and overall wellbeing.

Ronel de Jager

Ronel de Jager is an artist and entrepreneur. She studied graphic design and social work and expanded her artistic horizons by learning from masters in hyperrealism in Germany and Spain.

Her culinary skills developed over time and she has perfected sourdough, putting the art in artisanal. Her artistic flair and passion are evident in her creations, with her renowned sourdoughs featured in advertisements for the likes of Le Creuset.

Motheba Makhetha

Motheba Makhetha grew up in a family deeply immersed in the food, retail and farming sectors. She says she inherited her enthusiasm for cooking from her grandmother and experimented with intriguing ingredients from a young age.

Makhetha is an alumnus of the HTA School of Culinary Arts in Randburg and honed her craft at the likes of Ten Bompas Hotel and DW eleven-13. She most recently played a pivotal role in opening The Jordan Restaurant with Marthinus Ferreira, where she is the sous chef and head pastry chef.

Megin Meikle


Megin Meikle’s culinary education began at the HTA School of Culinary Arts. Her career took off as a pastry chef de partie at The Pot Luck Club, under the mentorship of chef Luke Dale Roberts.

Her journey continued as she dedicated five years to the Saxon Hotel Villas and Spa, where she served as a pastry chef de partie at Restaurant 500 by David Higgs and later as the head pastry chef in the collaboration between Luke Dale Roberts and Saxon. Megan is currently head pastry chef for the Marble group’s trio of restaurants: Marble, Saint and Zioux, and her dream of establishing a French patisserie in Johannesburg came to fruition with the launch of the Pantry in March 2021.

Charné Sampson


A graduate of Silwood School of Cookery, Charné Sampson honed her craft in the kitchens of Foxcroft, The Restaurant at Waterkloof and The Test Kitchen.

She was a sous chef at La Colombe before taking on the role of head chef at the La Colombe Group’s Epice in Franschhoek at the age of just 24. Epice received one star at the Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards in 2022.

Carla Schulze

Carla Schulze studied at the Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine in KwaZulu-Natal. Her culinary career began as a student at The Test Kitchen.

Under Luke Dale Roberts’ mentorship, Carla gained a wealth of knowledge and held various positions in the culinary world. She is currently the executive chef at Salon, where she guides guests on a global culinary voyage.

See who the star nominees are for the 2023 Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards.


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