The 2019 JHP Gourmet Guide, which awards South Africa's plated chefs and restaurants, was recently launched at The Restaurant at The Nek in Constantia Nek, Cape Town. The plated chefs and restaurants along with their recipes are featured in the annual, glossy keepsake.
South Africa’s restaurant plate rating, which equates to global standards for evaluating and rewarding fine dining establishments, has been acknowledged for its impartiality and credibility. One plate highlights exceptional cuisine, two plates are presented for exceptional dining that demands a detour, and three for a world-class dining experience that is worthy of a flight.
Natalie Brock of JHP Gourmet Guide, Martin Rose of Dineplan, Jenny Handley of JHP Gourmet Guide, Greg Whitfield of Dineplan
“It took many years of global research to understand what sophisticated diners want in an unforgettable restaurant experience. Dining at world-class establishments has given me not only the honour of interviewing the chefs that make it happen, but also to compare our restaurants, and to be justifiably proud of our homegrown chefs,” says curator and originator of the award, Jenny Handley.
Rather than comparing SA restaurants and chefs to one another, the JHP Gourmet Guide benchmarks according to global icons. A seafood restaurant will be compared to, for example, Le Bernardin in New York which holds three Michelin stars and was voted number one in New York in four out of five years. A country manor restaurant could be compared to Raymond Blanc’s Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons in Oxfordshire, holder of two Michelin stars.
A foodie haven
South African cuisine is bringing culinary travels from all over the world, particularly to the Western Cape and Cape Winelands. Western Cape minister of economic opportunities Alan Winde states:"Tourism is one of the major contributors to the Western Cape economy and one of the engine rooms for job creation. As a result of the rich diversity of cultures, wide variety of restaurants and the exceptional calibre of our chefs, the Western Cape has earned itself a reputation as a foodie haven, attracting visitors from all around the world. From tiny hole-in-the-wall style restaurants to award-winning fine dining, the province has something to suit every palate. By supporting these establishments, visitors and locals alike are helping to fuel economic growth, and create new jobs in the province."
Adriaan Maree of Fermier, Fabio Daniel of Rust en Vrede, Greg Czarnecki of The Restaurant at Waterkloof, Chantel Dartnall of Restaurant Mosaic
“Whilst we cannot change the concentration of fine dining restaurants in certain regions, like Cape Town and the Winelands, we consciously ask for nominations from all over the country. Initial visits are anonymous, and only the visit at which the chef is interviewed is announced and hosted. Restaurants that rate highly are considered for a plating. As consistency is one of the more important criteria, over 30 in all, chefs can only be evaluated for a plate after completing a season in the restaurant. One aspect of fine dining we can change is upskilling people who wish to work in this engaging, exciting industry. As there is no barrier to entry, people with the right attitude can start at the bottom and develop aptitude,” adds Handley.
Getting a plate
She owns a brand performance business and, in addition to producing and curating the annual JHP Gourmet Guide, has written three bestselling business books aimed at inspiring and empowering people in business. The first JHP Gourmet Guide was launched in 2016/17, the 2018 guide won an international Gourmand World Cookbook Award.
David Schneider of Chefs Warehouse at Maison, Ivor Jones of Chefs Warehouse, Beau Constantia, Jack Coetzee of Urbanologi. Front row from left to right: Luke Dale Roberts of The Test Kitchen, Wesley Randles of The Shortmarket Club, Freddie Dias of The Pot Luck Club, Fernanda Cardoso of Chefs Warehouse & Canteen
“Having been plated in the 2017 and 2018 JHP Gourmet Guide, it is a privilege to be hosting the 2019 launch and welcoming the top chefs in SA to our new fine dining restaurant. The awards are very special, to be associated with the best of our business is an honour and something to be proud of. The JHP Gourmet Guide is a beautifully published book of all the top restaurants in our country, and one that I’m proud to be a part of,” says The Restaurant at The Nek Chef Dylan Laity.
Plated chefs were given plates and bespoke wine coolers crafted by Mervyn Gers Ceramics, while the five Haute Performance Award winners received a custom-designed collector’s item of crockery and an artisanal mixer from KitchenAid.
Haute Performance Awards
The inaugural Haute Performance Awards have been created for those who are creating footprints in the industry. The 2019 winners are Candice Philip of Grei (Haute Property), who was plated in 2018, Bertus Basson of Overture (Haute Passion), Adriaan Maree of Fermier (Haute Pride), Kobus van der Merwe of Wolfgat (Haute Provenance), and Liam Tomlin of Chefs Warehouse (Haute People). Trailblazer Luke Dale-Roberts won the 2019 Swiss Culinary Innovation Award, to fly to Europe on Swiss Business, with a partner.
Newcomer to the three-plated list in 2019 is Greenhouse, deservedly joining La Colombe, Restaurant Mosaic, and The Test Kitchen. Taking their place on the list of two-plate holders for the first time is Camphors at Vergelegen, along with Chef’s Warehouse at Beau Constantia, dw eleven-13, Foliage, Indochine, Nobu, The Pot Luck Club, and The Restaurant at Waterkloof.
First-timers for one plate are Cavalli, Chefs Warehouse at Maison, La Petite Colombe, Le coin Français, Rust en Vrede, The Shortmarket Club, and Urbanologi. Jordan Restaurant has returned to the list, joining stalwarts Aubergine, Chef’s Table at Belmond Mount Nelson, Marble, Myoga, and Terroir from 2018. The 2019 JHP Gourmet Guide will be available in leading bookstores, Woolworths, and online.
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I reckon that a restaurant would have to be an expertly run facility in order to receive consecutive years' awards on this plate scale. It's important to make sure too, that once you've received such an award, that you do your jolly well best in other to maintain it for the next year running!
Nowadays, recipes can easily be obtained online for free even for the most gourmet of dishes. Recipe books are bought to show support towards the chefs in question but eventually they all might just end up in a storage unit somewhere.