10 times SA dominated the global food award scene in 2019

27 December 2019 - 00:00 By Sanet Oberholzer
Chef Kobus van der Merwe prepares for Sunday lunch service at Wolfgat, the Paternoster restaurant voted Restaurant of the Year at the inaugural World Restaurant Awards.
Chef Kobus van der Merwe prepares for Sunday lunch service at Wolfgat, the Paternoster restaurant voted Restaurant of the Year at the inaugural World Restaurant Awards.
Image: Halden Krog/AFP

With local chefs and restaurants snapping up international accolades like crazy, 2019 has been a momentous year for SA's culinary industry.

Here are some of the highlights:

1. Wolfgat was named Restaurant of the Year and the best 'Off-Map Destination' at the inaugural World Restaurant Awards.

This tiny beach eatery in Paternoster — it seats a mere 20 people — is headed by chef Kobus van der Merwe who, along with his small team, forages daily for ingredients indigenous to the West Coast shore to use in their delicious dishes.

2. Thanks to Jean Delport, SA got its second-ever Michelin-starred chef. The Capetonian heads up the kitchen at Interlude, a fine-dining eatery in the UK which was awarded its first Michelin star less than a year after opening.

3. Twelve local eateries placed in the top 200 of La Liste's ranking of the World's Top 1,000 Restaurants.

This prestigious annual list is complied by aggregating the reviews found in hundreds of print publications (think Michelin guides and The New York Times), as well as the thousands published online.

Chef Marthinus Ferreira's take on traditional Cape Malay pickled fish. His eatery, DW Eleven-13, was one of 12 SA establishments to place in the top 200 of La Liste's World's Top 100 Restaurants ranking for 2019.
Chef Marthinus Ferreira's take on traditional Cape Malay pickled fish. His eatery, DW Eleven-13, was one of 12 SA establishments to place in the top 200 of La Liste's World's Top 100 Restaurants ranking for 2019.
Image: Supplied

Mzansi's high scorers included: 

  • The Test Kitchen, The Pot Luck Club, Greenhouse at Cellars-Hohenort, Chef's Warehouse Beau Constantia, Camphors, La Colombe and The Restaurant at Waterkloof in Cape Town;
  • Terroir and Indochine at Delaire Graff Estate in Stellenbosch;
  • Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient in Pretoria;
  • Wolfgat in Paternoster; and
  • DW Eleven-13 in Joburg.

4. The Test Kitchen was named as one of the globe's top restaurants — three times!

Headed by chef Luke Dale-Roberts, this upmarket eatery in Cape Town ranked 44th in the World's 50 Best Restaurants awards, where it was also named the Best Restaurant in Africa for the second year running.

Thanks to votes by the readers of Elite Traveler, an in-flight magazine for private jets, The Test Kitchen came in at number 45 on the publication's list of the world’s top 100 restaurants for 2019.

It was also one of 12 local eateries to feature on La Liste's World's Top 1,000 Restaurants list — see point 3.

5. Cape Town's 95 Keerom placed at number 47 on the 50 Top Italy list, which recognises the world's 50 best Italian restaurants outside Italy. This eatery was the only African establishment to make the global list.

One of 95 Keerom's delicious filled pasta dishes.
One of 95 Keerom's delicious filled pasta dishes.
Image: 95 Keerom/Facebook

6. Massimo's restaurant in Hout Bay was named Best Pizzeria in Africa by the Top 50 Pizza awards. The annual awards held in Naples, Italy —the birthplace of pizza — recognise the best pizza spots in Italy and around the world.

7. Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient was declared to have the Best Hotel Wine List in the World at the World’s Best Wine Lists awards. 

According to this fine-dining Pretoria restaurant's website, you'll find more than 80,000 bottles of wine under 5,500 different labels in its cellar.

Not surprisingly then, Restaurant Mosaic was also given the Best Wine Cellar Award at the La Liste World Restaurant Awards.

8. A trio of Western Cape vineyards made the list of the World's 50 Best Vineyards, a new ranking introduced this year by the World's 50 Best Restaurants awards.

Vergelegen Estate in Somerset West was the highest-ranking local wine estate and placed 34th out of 50. Delaire Graff Estate in Stellenbosch placed 39th and Creation Wines in Hermanus came in at 45th.

The historic Manor House at Vergelegen in Stellenbosch, which was named one of the World's 50 Best Vineyards in 2019.
The historic Manor House at Vergelegen in Stellenbosch, which was named one of the World's 50 Best Vineyards in 2019.
Image: Gallo Images

9.  Joburg's Sin+Tax was voted the 88th best bar on the planet by The World’s 50 Best Bars awards. It was the only African establishment to make this year's extended 51-100 list.

10. A pair of celeb chefs snapped up accolades at the 24th annual Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

Zola Nene’s second cookbook, Simply Zola, was named the world's best English cookbook by a TV celebrity chef, while Mogau Seshoene’s debut, The Lazy Makoti's Guide to the Kitchen, took second place in the Best First Cookbook category.

Chef Zola Nene won the equivalent of a cookbook Oscar at the 2019 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
Chef Zola Nene won the equivalent of a cookbook Oscar at the 2019 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
Image: Struik Lifestyle

Additional reporting by Toni Jaye Singer