The definitive list of the best restaurants in South Africa was announced at the 2018 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards on Sunday, 18 November at GrandWest in Cape Town. The country’s top restaurants and the shining stars of South Africa’s restaurant industry were celebrated in a lavish extravaganza of gourmet food, drinks and entertainment for over 700 guests. The countdown from 20 to 11 listed the names to watch, before the much-anticipated Top 10 restaurants were revealed.
 
For the first time since 2012, there’s a new number one. The Restaurant at Waterkloof was confirmed in the top position when it was awarded the Restaurant of the Year title. It moved two places up from number three in the Top 10 last year. Said triumphant chef Gregory Czarnecki: “We cook for pleasure and we cook to fulfill our passion and to get recognised for it is an amazing feeling. I am truly proud of the team and what they were able to achieve. It’s just incredible.”
 
The 2018 Eat Out S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna Chef of the Year is Kobus van der Merwe of Wolfgat. No stranger to these awards, Kobus was named the Eat Out Rising Star in 2014 and was chosen as a champion by the other nominated chefs to win the 2017 Eat Out Graham Beck Chefs’ Chef Award.
 
The Eat Out Diners Club Service Excellence Award went to The Test Kitchen. Moses Magwaza, sommelier at Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient was named winner of the Eat Out Wine Service Award for the second year running.
 
Newcomer Saint was recognised with the Eat Out VISI Style Award, while Janse & Co was the recipient of the Eat Out Retail Capital New Restaurant of the Year Award. Germain Lehodey received the Eat Out John Psillos Award for Outstanding Contribution to Service.
 
The winning restaurants were determined by the scores of a panel of anonymous judges, convened by Margot Janse, who dined around the country unannounced. Although the winners have been announced, the panel will remain anonymous. This allows judges to remain on the panel to ensure consistency from year to year.
 
Margot Janse will remain at the helm of judging for the restaurant awards, as she takes up the position of chief judge. Said Margot: “I am a chef at heart and know what it takes to make a restaurant unique and successful. I understand the pressures of maintaining and exceeding expectations. It has been my absolute honour to convene the judges this year, and I am looking forward to becoming Eat Out’s chief judge.”
 
The chefs at the 30 nominated restaurants were given the opportunity to vote for a champion chef amongst their peers. In a first-ever tie, two chefs share this award, receiving admiration in equal measure from the nominees. The winners of the Eat Out Graham Beck Chefs’ Chef Award are Chris Erasmus of Foliage and Ivor Jones of Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia.   
 
Abigail Donnelly was honoured with the Eat Out Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award. The former editor of Eat Out, Abigail was recognised for her contribution to the industry and the brand over the last decade.
 
The Werf Restaurant at Boschendal received the Eat Out Woolworths Sustainability Award in recognition of its commitment to implementing environmentally and socially responsible practices. The winner was selected by a separate panel of judges, consisting of Sonia Mountford of Eategrity, Karen Welter of the Longtable Project and Pavitray Pillay of WWF-SASSI.
 
Selvin Govender, Marketing Director of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said, “I’d like to offer my congratulations to all the 2018 nominees and winners. We’re thrilled to recognise South Africa’s esteemed industry stars, and encourage the public to go out and try these phenomenal restaurants.”
 
All the winners celebrated at the 2018 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards are:
 
Eat Out S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna Chef of the Year: Kobus van der Merwe of Wolfgat
Eat Out Restaurant of the Year: The Restaurant at Waterkloof

Top 10 Restaurants:
1. The Restaurant at Waterkloof
2. The Test Kitchen
3. La Colombe 
4. Wolfgat 
5. La Petite Colombe 
6. Greenhouse at The Cellars-Hohenort
7. Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient
8. Camphors at Vergelegen  
9. Jardine Restaurant  
10. Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia 
 
Restaurants ranked from 11–20
11. Fermier Restaurant
12. Jordan Restaurant
13. Foliage 
14. Le Coin Français 
15. The Chefs’ Table 
16. Chefs Warehouse at Maison 
17. La Tête 
18. Overture 
19. The Shortmarket Club 
20. The Pot Luck Club 
 
Eat Out Diners Club Service Excellence Award: The Test Kitchen
Eat Out Nederburg Rising Star: Candice Philip of Grei
Eat Out Retail Capital New Restaurant of the Year: Janse & Co
Eat Out Graham Beck Chefs’ Chef Award: Chris Erasmus of Foliage and Ivor Jones of Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia
Eat Out Wine Service Award: Moses Magwaza of Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient
Eat Out John Psillos Award for Outstanding Contribution to Service: Germain Lehodey
Eat Out Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award: Abigail Donnelly
Eat Out Woolworths Sustainability Award: The Werf Restaurant at Boschendal
Eat Out VISI Style Award: Saint
 
“20 years ago the Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards were established to acknowledge the incredible talent, artistry and service in the South African restaurant industry. We have seen exceptional chefs and restaurants pushing boundaries year after year, and receiving the acclaim they deserve, locally and internationally – this is the very essence of what the awards are about. With talent like this, it is easy to see why South Africa is viewed as a world-class food destination,” said Aileen Lamb, MD of New Media, the owners of Eat Out.

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