Last year I sat in track pants on my couch and “watched” the Eat Out Awards unfold on Twitter. So you can understand this year it felt a tad surreal to be there.
I got a single ticket so the hubby was less than enthused but I did offer to order him some room service before I left 🙂 I really didn’t know a soul going but undeterred, I saved up my appetite and made my way over, spot on time so that I wouldn’t have to stand around awkwardly in the corner by myself (you’d think that in almost 2 years of blogging I’d be over it).
The Lookout is one of my favourite venues in Cape Town. Back when I was getting married I went to view it as a potential venue and when I understood what it cost to hire I politely & hastily excused myself. On any trip down a large part of being in Cape Town is always the food (I have a LONG Cape Town to-eat list) and I was able to tick so many of those boxes via the evening’s menu. We were completely & utterly spoilt and it included 2 main courses and 2 desserts (& I don’t mean a choice of…) – luckily the portions were perfectly sized. The décor was all white with Louis Ghost chairs and an informal “stage” in the middle of the room that made everyone feel like they scored pretty awesome seats…
Can you imagine the pressure of having to serve 6 courses serve to 500 people (oh and that excludes the bread & canapés!)? It’s completely insane & they did it effortlessly even with difficult halaal customers like myself. EVERYTHING was amazing, seriously EVERYTHING. The way it was done was that different chefs/restaurants each did a course/dish on the menu so I loved getting a taste of everything. The only dish we were all (well at my table anyway) a tad confused about was the second main course which I skipped.
Besides the top 10 restaurants which was no doubt the highlight of the night, there were also a bunch of other awards:
Eat Out S. Pellegrino Chef of the Year: David Higgs, Five Hundred (this one is a biggie too – go Jozi!)
Service Excellence: Rust en Vrede
Rising Star: Vanessa Marx, Dear Me
Wine Service: Joakim Hansi Blackadder, Rust en Vrede
The Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award in association with Paarl Media: Michael Olivier
Eat Out TASTE Bursary: Amanda Manyatshe
Boschendal Style Award: The Pot Luck Club
Best Asian Restaurant: Kitima
Best Bistro: The Leopard
Best Country-Style Restaurant: Towerbosch
Best Italian Restaurant: Burrata
Jacobsdal Best Steakhouse: Carne SA
One thing that struck me was just how incredibly competitive the food world is. There were nominees sitting at our table and when they didn’t make the final 10, I could see & feel their disappointment. There was just so much passion in the room, it was incredibly inspiring to be in a room full of people who got to do what they truly love for a living everyday…
Besides the winners, the other big reveal for the night was the judges. Their identities had been keep a secret right up to the evening and they shared hilarious stories of having to make reservations under a dozen or more pseudonyms to get the judging done.
The people with the 4 toughest jobs for the last few weeks were:
- Garth Stroebel – chef & lecturer
- Liam Tomlin – owner of Chefs Warehouse and Cooking School ;
- Andy Fenner – consultant and owner of Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants
- Jenny Morris – Celebrity chef and TV host
After much anticipation, the Top 10 spots went to…
1. The Test Kitchen (for the 2nd year running, read my review here)
2. Five Hundred (The Saxon Hotel & only Jozi nominee)
3. Rust en Vrede
4. The Greenhouse
5. Hartford House (The only KZN nominee)
6. Jordan Restaurant
8. Camphors at Vergelegen
9. The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français
10. Pierneef à La Motte
By the end of the evening I had reconnected with some familiar faces, met some new ones & put faces to Twitter handles. Rather unlike me, I even went along to the after party at Jade Lounge.
There’s just so much eating I still need to do in CT! Thanks for a superb night Eat Out – I hope I’m lucky enough to be back in 2014!
PS lookout for the new Eat Out website as well as the annual Eat Out magazine, both out November 25th!