GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - Stefan Jamneck of the Transkaroo Restaurant in Great Brak River is the Gastro Nomix Chef of the Year for 2011. He was given this prestigious award at the annual CXpress Garden Route Culinary Awards evening which took place at the new Salina’s Beach Restaurant in Wilderness.
The runner up was Alma Oosthuizen of Chef Alma at Groenvlei. The Gannet Restaurant in Mossel Bay is also one of the Top 20 restaurants in the vicinity.
The cream of Garden Route restaurateurs, chefs and servers were there to share in the fun while the Top 20 restaurants in the area were announced. This year the function was graciously sponsored by Nell-Marie le Roux from NLR Wines.
Celebrity Chef Francois Ferreira, Bailli Délegué of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs South Africa and foodie par excellence Anne Hadley, spearheaded the panel of judges.
Anne's late husband and long-time CXpress food critic, Ian Hadley, was the initial driving force behind the Gastro Nomix Top 10 Garden Route restaurant awards more than a decade ago. Recently the official nod was received from the South African Chefs Association, who declared the awards a nationally recognised event.
The other floating trophies went to the following persons:
Winners of this year's floating trophies - Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Server of the Year: Shane Schoeman of Pomodoro, Ordre Mondial Wine Server of the Year (this new category was announced at the 2010 awards): Joseph Pietersen - Serendipity and Eden School of Culinary Art, Young Chef of the Year: Matteo Battaini - La Locanda.
Special Achievement Award
This year the panel made an exception to the geographical criteria, for example just off the Garden Route track, in selecting Mike Clarke from Clarke of the Karoo in Barrydale.
Mike was at the Beacon Isle Hotel for many years, and then popularised Crabs Creek in Knysna. Over the years, Mike has worked hard to keep a consistent high standard of cuisine and service, and Clarke of the Karoo has become a destination restaurant on the R62.
The Top 20 Culinary Destinations on the Garden Route in 2011 are:
The Rose on York (George), Transkaroo (Great Brak River ), Lemongrass (Plettenberg Bay), Chef Alma at Groenvlei (Sedgefield), Cruise Café ( Knysna), Kafe Serèfe (George), House of Flavour (George), Caloroso Café (George), The Gannet (Mossel Bay), Joplin's (Wilderness), La Capannina (George), Pomodoro (Wilderness), Thyme and Again (Plettenberg Bay), Bramon (Plettenburg Bay), Kurland Hotel (Plettenburg Bay), La Rosa Blu (Hops Valley), Roadside Deli (Hops Valley), Waterside Grill@Hyatt Hotel (Oubaai), Cornuti al Mare (Plettenburg Bay) and Zucchini at Timberlake (Wilderness). During the past decade of CXpress Culinary Awards, some of the restaurants have consistently performed so well that they have always claimed a place on the Top 10 and Top 20 lists.
This year the judging panel suggested a new category called CXpress Culinary Legends, which are restaurants that have made the grade for three years and longer and especially those on the 'Best' list for three or more years.
The Garden Route Culinary Legends for 2011 are - Serendipity (Contemporary South African Dining), La Locanda (Casual Italian Dining), Pembreys (Elegant Dining), Sand at The Plettenberg ( Fine Dining), The Girls (Casual Dining), Ile de Pain (Bistro Style Eatery), The Bell Tavern at Belvedere (Pub Style Eatery) and Travel Bugs (Coffee/Tea Emporium).
Special Merit Award
This award will not necessarily be granted annually, but only when there is cause to. This year the award went to Kelvin Appelgren of Caloroso Café who, through dedication to his art, has inspired everyone on the Garden Route coffee scene to up their game.