Stellenbosch takes on the ‘food capital’
Will Franschhoek lose its crown?
THE table is laid for the battle of Stellenbosch versus Franschhoek tomorrow night, when the Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards take the stage.
The Stellenbosch wine route – which stretches along the R44 between Stellenbosch and Somerset West – is handsomely represented, with nine of the 20 nominations for the honour of being named one of the top 10 restaurants.
Camphors at Vergelegen, where chef PJ Vargas is in the kitchen, and the restaurant at Waterkloof Wine Estate, headed by Gregory Czarnecki, are both in Somerset West.
En route to Stellenbosch are Rust en Vrede with John Shuttleworth at the helm, Delaire Graff Restaurant and Indochine, both on Delaire Graff wine estate and run by Christiaan Campbell and Virgil Khan respectively, and Bertus Basson’s Overture at Hidden Valley Estate.
And in Stellenbosch itself are Jordan Restaurant, where George Jardine serves up fine cuisine, Makaron with Tanja Kruger in the kitchen, and Tokara, headed by worldrenowned Richard Carstens.
The nine will be taking on the supposed “gourmet capital” of Franschhoek, which has just four nominations – Bread and Wine, The Kitchen at Mai- son, Pierneef à la Motte and The Tasting Room.
Also en route to Stellenbosch – but not in this year’s awards after being a winner for nine consecutive years – is Terroir at Kleine Zalze Wine Estate, where Michael Broughton is chef.
“I don’t know if I should laugh or cry,” he said of not being nominated this year.
The restaurant will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year, making it one of the longest-running in the area.
It’s always good to be nominated, Broughton said, but that’s “just how it goes sometimes”.
“The main thing is that you have bums on seats in the restaurant, and happy customers,” he said, adding that his establishment was still full and rocking.
Broughton, a celebrated chef in the region, said the bar was raised every year, and the competition was getting tougher, especially with all the new ones that had opened in the area in the past five years.
When he started at Terroir, it was one of just two wellknown restaurants in the area.
“It’s good for the industry and good to see that Stellenbosch is still leading the pack as a gourmet destination,” Broughton said.
“The future is, sort of, this gourmet tourism. Stellenbosch is really a place at the moment to focus on if you want to come and eat. This is good for Stellenbosch and I’m super chuffed that we’re a part of that.”
Second- time nominee Czarnecki, from Waterkloof wine estate’s “restaurant in the sky”, on the outskirts of Somerset West (but still part of the Stellenbosch wine route), says he wasn’t expecting much from his first nomination. It was in 2010 when the restaurant first opened and he said he was still finding his feet in the kitchen.
This year his team-members are placing bets on where they might be placed at the awards.
But Czarnecki feels that it is a privilege just to be considered in the top 20, saying he’s “just happy to be there – we’ll see what happens on Sunday”.
Also in the running are The Greenhouse and La Colombe in Constantia, Planet Restaurant at the Mount Nelson Hotel, The Test Kitchen in Woodstock, Hartford House in the Natal Midlands and DW Eleven-13 and Five Hundred in Johannesburg.
HOPEFUL: Miss South Africa Marilyn Ramos will compete against 85 other contestants for the crown of Miss Universe 2013 in a two-hour ceremony tonight. The local beauty is pictured earlier this week in her evening gown at the preliminary competition at Crocus City Hall in Moscow.