Brought to you by Woolworths
In the intricate world of wines, where passion meets expertise, Bafana Zondo emerges as a standout sommelier, showcasing an unparalleled dedication to the craft and an exceptional depth of wine knowledge. Recognised as the Eat Out Woolworths Wine Service Award winner for 2023, Bafana Zondo has not only left a lasting impression on diners but has also captured the attention of the Eat Out judges.
After completing his matric year, Bafana pursued studies in hospitality at Parktown College in Johannesburg. Financial constraints led him to start as a waiter at Primi Piatti in Rosebank, but it was at Hidden Valley’s Overture in Stellenbosch that his potential was spotted and nurtured by the renowned chef Bertus Basson, setting him on the path to becoming a distinguished sommelier.
Fuelled by encounters with international sommeliers and a relentless pursuit of knowledge through programmes like the Cape Wine Academy and WSET School of London, Bafana’s dedication to continuous learning is evident as he immerses himself in a wide array of sources. “Ubiquitous assimilation! I am always learning, reading books about wine as a skill and watching interviews of people that I admire in the industry, coupled with visiting the plethora of local wine estates and meeting with other sommeliers and colleagues in the industry,” he says.
Eat Out judge Joseph Dhafana shares his thoughts on why Bafana deserves the recognition. “Bafana has it all. From service etiquette, dress code, and glassware to a deep understanding of sustainability and a diverse, inclusive wine list. He not only describes the menu and explains the dishes, but also masterfully pairs wines that marry seamlessly with each plate.” Joseph emphasised the challenging role of a sommelier, describing them as ambassadors of the wine industry, and Bafana’s ability to expertly pair wines with dishes, considering sustainability and diversity, showcases his skill in enhancing the dining experience.
In the ever-evolving world of wine, Bafana maintains an open and curious mindset. Thriving on a collaborative mindset, he works alongside innovative chefs at Dusk, the esteemed 3-star Eat Out restaurant, who value innovation and pushing the boundaries of the fine dining industry. Together, they experiment with sakes, fermentation, and various aspects of wine appreciation, fostering a culture of constant learning and exploration.
Bafana’s journey, defined by his expertise, passion, and an unwavering commitment to the craft, serves as an inspiration for aspiring sommeliers and stands as a testament to the transformative power of a true wine connoisseur.