If you love good cooking, then come to Africa! We Africans have always known this, but it nice to know that the world now recognizes it!
It came as a surprise to many when a small restaurant in Cape Town, South Africa called Wolfgat was named “Restaurant of the Year” at the just concluded World Restaurant Awards in Paris, France. Many observers including those in attendance were used to hearing names of big restaurants controlled by 5-star hotel management in Paris, Las Vegas, Tokyo, so it was normal to notice some shock expressions in the room as the South African restaurant was named.
The organizers of the World Restaurant Awards aim to promote the diversity of international cuisine as well as honor restaurants that pay attention to meals from homegrown ingredients and local products.
Although not an African himself, Wolfgat chef Kobus Van der Merwe, who only started cooking at the age of 30, credits his success to the local staff who do everything it takes for the restaurant to serve the perfect meal.
He said his staff (whom he referred to as collaborators) who have no formal training, have rubbed off a certain African identity on the restaurant and its menu.
Speaking to an international media agency, AFP, Kobus Van der Merwe said,
“I don’t feel like I deserve it, it’s my collaborators, who go out every day to pick herbs, succulent plants and spinach that should be here.
‘’.. It’s their baby. I look forward to celebrating with them with a tall glass of South African sparkling wine.’‘
Wolfgat – whose staff, mostly females with no formal training – opened two years ago in a 130-year-old cottage in a cave on Paternoster Beach on the west coast, 150 km from Cape Town.
Another thing that surprised observers was that the restaurant has only 6 staff and can only feed 20 people at one sitting. This further points out that the reason for the award was nothing other than the good food!
Interestingly, Kobus Van der Merwe is a former journalist and said his life philosophy in managing the restaurant is "to interfere as little as possible with the products and to serve them pure, raw and unprocessed."
The jury who judged the nominees were selected from 36 countries including France, Australia and Zimbabwe. They selected winners in 18 categories ranging from “house specialty” or “no reservation”, street food, cosmopolitan fusion cuisine, smaller budgets, or other anecdotes as chef of the year without tattoos won by the great French multi-star chef Alain Ducasse.
Header Image Credit: Mail & Guardian