World Restaurant Awards: Tiny South African beach eatery Wolfgat wins Restaurant of the Year at inaugural edition
Last night in Paris, the World Restaurant Awards revealed the winners of their inaugural edition in front of a crowd of globally celebrated chefs, rising stars and international media.
Wolfgat, a 20-seat restaurant from Paternoster (South Africa), was named Restaurant of the Year. Run by chef Kobus van der Merwe and set in a 130-year-old fisherman’s beach cottage, it focuses on sourcing local ingredients and having a single team looking after the kitchen and the dining room. The restaurant also scored the Off-Map Destination accolade.
Tokyo restaurant Inua earned the night’s very first award for Arrival of the Year, whereas São Paulo Mocotó was celebrated as the best No Reservations Required establishment. A number of French chefs and restaurants were honoured: Le Clarence for Original Thinking; La Mère Brazier for Enduring Classic; Alain Passard for Instagram Account; and Alain Ducasse for Tattoo-Free Chef (although a colleague jokingly demanded a full body inspection to confirm the prize).
The list of awards also included House Special for Riccardo Camanini’s Lido 84’s Cacio e Pepe, cooked in a pig’s bladder; Atmosphere for Jordan Kahn’s groundbreaking Vespertine; Ethical Thinking for Lara Gilmore’s and Massimo Bottura’s Food for Soul; Event of the Year for the Refugee Food Festival; Collaboration of the Year for Paradiso X Gortnanairn; Trolley of the Year for Ballymaloe House and finally Red Wine-Serving Restaurant for Noble Rot.
The World Restaurant Awards project is organised by IMG (Taste of London, Frieze Art Fair) in partnership with Joe Warwick (creative director) and Andrea Petrini (chair of the judging panel), and it aims to turn the spotlight on a more diverse selection of businesses compared to the other annual events of this kind. Despite the ambition of coming up with a gender-balanced list of names, none of the chefs of the winning restaurants were woman, with the exception of Bo.Lan (Tweezer-Free Kitchen award) which is run by the duo Dylan Jones and Bo Songvisava.
The winners were decided by a 100-strong judging panel made up of restaurant journalists, influencers and culinary professionals from 37 different countries, which you can check out on the website.
The director of the awards, Cecile Rebbot, stated: “We are proud to have given a global stage to a diverse spectrum of incredibly deserving restaurants, teams, experiences and initiatives. We set out to create a truly international awards with a fresh approach, recognising the full breadth and depth of the industry, but this is only the beginning in terms of the restaurant experiences around the world that we want to explore and discover.”
Joe Warwick, the creative director, said: “After an intense year of nominating, inspecting and debating, we are thrilled to be able to congratulate the winners, and every restaurant that was shortlisted and longlisted in the first edition of The World Restaurant Awards.” Finally, judging panel chair Andrea Petrini added: “We couldn’t have done this without the support of the fine women and men on the judging panel and the hardworking team of inspectors. They did us proud.”
We had the chance to speak with the winners at the ceremony:
Restaurant of the Year: Wolfgat
Arrival of the Year: Inua
Ethical Thinking: Food for Soul
House Special: Lido 84’s Cacio e Pepe
No Reservations Required: Mocotó
Forward Drinking: Mugaritz
Original Thinking: Le Clarence (French)
Enduring Classic: La Mère Brazier
Off-Map Destination: Wolfgat
Red Wine-Serving Restaurant: Noble Rot
Instagram Account: Alain Passard
Trolley of the Year: Ballymaloe House
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Videos: Laura Denti
Photos: Dominique Charriau and Marc Piasecki (awards ceremony)
For further information about the event visit the World Restaurant Awards website.