On a regular Sunday that ended being anything but, Margot Janse, the executive chef of The Tasting Room, was crowned Chef of the Year 2012 at the dazzling ceremony of the 2012 Eat Out DSTV Food Network Restaurant Awards. Not only was Janse awarded but the prestigious chef was also invited to be a speaker at the Eat Out Conference in Cape Town, where she shared the stage with internationally acclaimed chef Massimo Buttaro.
Bruce Palling, Eat Out’s international judge had this to say: “Here is a chef with superb classical training, yet with a sense of playfulness. I would rank my dinner here with the best I have had anywhere in the past year. I was blown away by the playfulness and the complete self-assurance of a professional.”
South Africa’s most prestigious restaurant awards are also known as ‘the foodie Oscars’ and the country’s top chefs come donned in their most elegant attire trading their whites for evening wear and celebrated with the cream of the fine dining restaurant crop. The 10 best restaurants in South Africa were announced along with a host of other winners in additional categories.
To top such an elegant night off, Janse was heralded yet again when her restaurant, The Tasting Room, claimed the number two spot in the Eat Out Top 10.
“The guests that come to dine are not just there for dinner. The whole experience is about celebrating our country and region. Our service style is based on storytelling, instead of factual information sharing. We tell you about the winemakers and his dog, the things granny did with buchu and why the baobab is called the upside down tree.” said Janse. “When, at the end of the evening I get thanked for a special experience and for all our guests learned about this amazing country, its culture and indigenous produce – that’s when I know we got it right.”
The Tasting Room has made it into the Eat Out Top 10 an unprecedented 11 times, and Janse was also Chef of the Year in 2002 and is understandably thrilled with the second accolade, saying “It’s a fantastic honor, especially after the year we’ve had—we’ve achieved this accolade with a completely new team of chefs. The awards are thanks to them—I wouldn’t be carrying this title without my team.”