Will the resignation of two 2014 Eat Out Top 10 Chefs, with a third to come it is rumoured, make it the easiest hop into the 2015 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant list ever? While it is a bit early, we speculate as to which new restaurants will make it onto the Eat Out Top 20 and Top 10 Restaurant lists later this year.
Given the strict rule of an Executive Chef having to have worked a full twelve months (November 2013 to October this year) to qualify to get onto the Eat Out Top 20 shortlist, the three restaurants with the departing chefs will not qualify to make Top 20 for the judging in the next two months or so. Hartford House and Pierneef à La Motte should definitely be off the list, and the third Top 10 restaurant will be confirmed shortly (see Postscript below). Chef Chris Erasmus left Pierneef à La Motte a week ago, to open his new restaurant Foliage on the main road of Franschhoek next month, while Chef Jackie Cameron is opening Jackie Cameron’s School of Food and Wine in Hilton in January next year, but leaves at the end of July. The third chef is rumoured to move from the Winelands to Cape Town, to open his own new restaurant, and could not be reached yesterday due to the restaurant being closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. We would not be surprised if a fourth Top 10 restaurant chef makes a move to Cape Town too, given the number of new restaurants opening in the next few months.
So who could the three vacant Top 10 slots go to? First on the list must be Chef Richard Carstens of Tokara, who more than deserves a slot in this sought-after list, which has been denied to him for the past two years, for reasons unknown. One of the two Delaire Graff restaurants should make it as well, one of the two having done extremely well last year, and bubbling under the Top 10 list. The third Top 10 slot should go back to Chef Chantel Dartnall of Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient, a fabulously talented chef with the most creative plating, who inexplicably dropped right out of the Top 20 list last year. Her sommelier Germain Lehodey is one of the most experienced in the country (but not always the most friendly). Given the move from Constantia Uitsig to Silvermist in Hout Bay, it is unlikely that La Colombe will make the Top 10 list this year, not having made it last year either. Chef Gregory Czarnecki of Waterkloof has been underrated too, finally making Top 20 last year, and may have a chance to move up the ladder into a Top 10 slot (creator of dessert above).
On the Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant shortlist we should see new entrants this year:
* Chef Eric Bulpitt of The Restaurant at Newton Johnson
* The Pot Luck Club, given head judge Abigail Donnelly’s love affair with Chef Luke Dale-Roberts, having tried twice in the past two years to get the restaurant onto the Top 20 list, and awarding it the Eat Out Boschendal Style Award last year, so desperate was she to give the restaurant and its owner something!
* Terroir may make it back on the Top 20 list, but it would be odd if it jumped right back onto the Top 10 list
* Equus at Cavalli Estate would be likely to make the Top 20 list, but its lack of creativity in plating in exactly the same way as at Azure at Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, and using the same starches and vegetables for all main course dishes, could cost Chef Henrico Grobbelaar his dream to make the Top 10 Restaurant list this year. Service levels are not yet perfect.
* Chef Darren Badenhorst of Grande Provence deserves a chance on the Top 20 list too, but he is very low key and has been badly let down by his wait staff and restaurant management to date.
* Chef Christo Pretorius of Azure at the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa may make it onto the Top 20 list for the first time. Plating by Chef Christo and Chef Henrico is almost identical, given that they were colleagues at Azure, so both need to develop their own style of presentation.
* Mondiall in the V&A Waterfront is interesting, raising the question as to whether co-owner and Chef Peter Tempelhoff would be linked to the award, as he is rarely if ever in the kitchen, or whether Chef Oliver Cattermole will receive the recognition he deserves. Service issues have tarnished the reputation of the restaurant since its opening in December, and given that it did not open in November 2013 it is unlikely to qualify.
It is interesting that there is so much chef movement amongst restaurants at the moment, even if it is at the cost of not making the Eat Out Top 10 List/Top 20 shortlist this year. Generally there have been surprisingly many restaurants opening this year, but few that are of an Eat Out calibre! For the 2016 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant list we can expect an exciting battle as we see the new restaurant chefs qualify for the Top 20 short list, including Chef Chris Erasmus’ Foliage; Chef Andres Condé who has worked at two Michelin star restaurants in Spain, one of them being elBulli, the former World’s 50 Best Restaurants number one restaurant, who arrives in a week, and who could upgrade a Harbour House Group restaurant (existing or new) into a Top 10 candidate; the developments planned at Morgenster could see international chefs involved and be a challenge for the Top 10 list; and the mystery one/two Top 10 chef(s) moving to Cape Town.
Eat Out has been surprisingly quiet about its 2015 Awards. One wonders whether the same judges will be used this year, and Eat Out has not addressed any aspects of the Restaurant Awards. It would be a shame if it were so, as Chef Liam Tomlin now has his own restaurant Chef’s Warehouse & Canteen, which would make it a conflict of interest if he were to be a judge, and maybe he would not even like to be a judge, being a restaurant peer now. The same applies to Andy Fenner, with conflict of interest in supplying a number of top restaurants, and whose poor offering at his Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants could be torn apart by the chefs he is meant to judge! Chef Garth Stroebel is likely to remain a judge. Mrs Donnelly obviously remains a judge, to the disappointment of many chefs. One hopes that Eat Out will not consider Michael Copy-and-Paste Olivier as a judge, given his poor reputation in the wine industry, that he hasn’t been in the restaurant industry for the past twelve years, and his lack of writing ethics!
POSTSCRIPT 25/6: A reader of this blogpost has written a Comment, which suggests that Reuben Robertsons Riffel may be a new Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant judge. This would make the restaurant awards ever more meaningless, given the poor standing which Riffel has amongst other chefs since he started endorsing Robertsons spices and herbs two years ago.
POSTSCRIPT 28/8: It is with shock that we have heard that Executive Chef Christiaan Campbell will leave Delaire mid-October, heading to Boschendal. We are hearing more and more that Reuben Robertsons Riffel is doing the rounds in eating at Winelands restaurants!
Another Chef resignation is due to be announced next week, whereafter we will revise our prediction for the Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant shortlist. We are concerned about Eat Out being able to find twenty good and worthy restaurants for the shortlist!
POSTSCRIPT 25/6: Mondiall has Tweeted its first till slip, with the date of 30 November 2013 on it.
POSTSCRIPT 27/6: We have confirmed with Chef PJ Vadas that he is leaving Camphors at Vergelegn in Somerset West at the end of July (as is Chef Gary at Stables leaving at the end of September), referred to as the mystery third chef in our blogpost above. Chef PJ is heading for London for two months, and then will look to open his own restaurant, most likely to be in Cape Town.
POSTSCRIPT 2/7: In an Eat Out interview today, Chef PJ has revealed that he will open a restaurant and brewery, somewhere in Cape Town, to be called The Hog House.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage