Image: Gary Cotterell

Antwerp, Belgium — The World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards ceremony took place on October 5 2021 in Flanders and saw SA’s Wolfgat restaurant placed 50th — making it the best restaurant in Africa, according to the list. 

The restaurant, situated in the picturesque fishing-village of Paternoster, focuses on seasonally driven cooking using hyperlocal west coast ingredients and is run by chef Kobus van der Merwe.

The chef, taking to Wolfgat’s Instagram account, shared:  

“All our heroes — local and international chefs and restaurants that we admire and have been looking up to — are featured here [on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list], so it seems quite surreal and undeserved that we should be ranked among them. But we are honoured to be selected, and proud to represent South Africa, and Paternoster in particular, on the global stage. 

“Given the extremely challenging past year-and-a-half we’ve faced globally, especially in the hospitality industry, recognition of this kind comes as a welcome moral boost, as well as an incentive to keep doing what we do in our own small way — moreover since our slightly unconventional, west coast approach to food and service does not necessarily fit the average idea of what constitutes ‘fine dining’.”

The chef went on to thank his passionate and hard working team and the Paternoster community. 

The international awards return after a year long hiatus, having dedicated the past year to working on restaurant relief and recovery. 

Owing to this missed year and Covid-19 travel restrictions, the 2021 awards voting — which usually relies on international travel — was done differently and included pre-pandemic votes in the tally. 

Explaining the voting on their website the awards state:

“The new ranking will take into account recent travel limitations and dining restrictions by combining the votes cast in January 2020 (which have never been published) and a ‘voting refresh’ which took place in March 2021. In March this year, each voter had the chance to update their 2020 selections based only on restaurant experiences in their own region in the 14 months since the previous voting round, reflecting the increased importance of local dining.”

This means that the 2021 list was created from a combination of pre-pandemic experiences and updates from each region’s local voters, with the period of consideration July 2019 to end-March 2021. Restaurants that had permanently closed or fundamentally changed their concept since the voting period were removed from the ranking.  

In addition to Wolfgat, two other SA restaurants placed on the extended 100 list — La Colombe came in at 81 and Fyn at 92

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