La Colombe head chef shares what it takes to be crowned SA's best restaurant
Cape Town's La Colombe has been named South Africa's top restaurant for 2019.
The top restaurants and culinary stars in the country were celebrated at the 2019 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards at GrandWest in Cape Town on Sunday.
Head chef James Gaag says he's overjoyed by the win and is still letting it sink in.
He says his team has always been committed to creating memorable and innovative meals at the iconic fine dining establishment in Constantia.
The award is motivation to push on and keep testing the limits, Gaag explains.
We're constantly trying to push the boundaries and think of new and different ideas... It's our goal as a team to keep customers coming back and keep them happy.James Gaag, Executive Chef - La Colombe
La Colombe's sommelier Joseph Dhafana also won the Eat Out Wine Service Award for 2019.
Here are the Top 20 restaurants in South Africa honoured at the awards:
1. La Colombe (Constantia, Cape Town)
2. The Test Kitchen (Woodstock, Cape Town)
3. The Restaurant at Waterkloof (Somerset West)
4. Wolfgat (Paternoster)
5. FYN Restaurant (City Bowl, Cape Town)
6. La Petite Colombe (Franschhoek)
7. Eike (Stellenbosch)
8. Salsify (Camps Bay, Cape Town)
9. Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient (Elandsfontein, Pretoria)
10. Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia (Constantia, Cape Town)
11. Camphors at Vergelegen (Somerset West)
12. Overture (Stellenbosch)
13. LivingRoom at Summerhill Estate (Cowies Hill, Durban)
14. Chefs Warehouse at Maison (Franschhoek)
15. Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenort (Constantia, Cape Town)
16. Le Coin Français (Franschhoek)
17. La Tête (City Bowl, Cape Town)
18. The Shortmarket Club (City Bowl, Cape Town)
19. Tjing Tjing Momiji (City Bowl, Cape Town)
20. Rust en Vrede (Stellenbosch)
Some stand-out restaurants and individuals on the South African scene also received special awards.
CapeTalk host Pippa Hudson was joined by Adelle Horler, Editor-in-chief at Eat Out, to discuss some of the highlights from the awards evening.
They spoke to a few of the chefs who won big.
Chef David Schneider of the Chefs Warehouse at Maison wine farm in Franschhoek says making the Top 20 helps keep his team humble.
Schneider says it's important that the culinary scene changes its culture to make the kitchen environment more appealing and less oppressive.
It's a great achievement. It's a fantastic award for us. There has been dedication and hard work from every staff member.Chef David Schneider
It's up to us. We have a key moment to change the culture and attract chefs back into the kitchen.Chef David Schneider
Chef Katlego Mlambo, who heads up jazz eatery The Marabi Club in Joburg, was crowned the 2019 Eat Out Nederburg Rising Star.
The award recognises an up-and-coming chef who is making their distinctive mark on the industry.
Mlambo says while his profession can be gruelling and take its toll on mental health, it's rewarding to have his unique dishes and talent celebrated.
The rising star award is huge... I work in an amazing establishment, I've found my groove. Being able to cook my own food is phenomenal.Chef Katlego Mlambo
Chef Bertus Basson was crowned the Eat Out S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna Chef of the Year.
Basson has two Stellenbosch restaurants on Eat Out’s list of top 20 fine dining restaurants. Overture ranked at number 12 and his newest venture, Eike, shot to number seven in its debut year.
The passionate chef says he is devoted to building a unique South African food identity.
We have such a special country, such amazing people, food, cuisine and flavours - there's no excuse to not focus on being South African.Chef Bertus Basson
To really focus on South African cooking is really important to me at the moment.Chef Bertus Basson
Eat Out has announced that it's launching a food school next year and will also be partnering with food rescue organisation SA Harvest.
Listen to the special segment dedicated to the 2019 Eat Out Mercedes Benz Restaurant Awards:
Image: La Colombe on Instagram