This tiny restaurant in South Africa is world's best eatery
If you love to taste various cuisines and you are a food connoisseur, this piece of news might excite you. A tiny restaurant in South Africa, named The Wolfgat, whose seven-course menu costs a mere $60 (Rs. 4,300), has bagged the title of the best restaurant in the world. The restaurant recently received the prize at the World Restaurant Awards in Paris.
The restaurant opened two years ago and is set up in a 130-year-old cottage and cave on the beach at Paternoster. The restaurant's chef, Kobus Van der Merwe, 38, searches for ingredients on the wild Atlantic shore of the Western Cape, near which his restaurant lies. Interestingly, the Wolfgat has a staff of six, mostly women, and they possess no formal training.
What attracted the judges at the Awards was the humble setting of the restaurant and its chef's principles about back-to-basics sustainable cooking. The restaurant has the seating capacity of only 20 customers and some of its popular dishes include twice-cooked laver (seaweed), angelfish with bokkom sambal and wild garlic masala, among others. The restaurant was also the winner of the best 'Off-Map Destination'.
Van Der Merwe told media that he was influenced by the local Cape Malay cooking and his philosophy was to "interfere as little as possible with the products, and to keep them pure, raw and untreated." "It's hyper-local cuisine but we try to come up with new flavors, like dune celery spice," he said. He explained that there is no hierarchy in the restaurant.
"We all do everything. If you pick something you prepare it yourself and maybe then take it to the table and explain it to the customers," Van Der Merwe said. The chef, who was previously a journalist, said he won't be increasing the prices after the award and his win was a victory for the African "continent and my beautiful, diverse country."
"I don't feel worthy. It's a big title. My staff who go out every day gathering herbs, succulents and dune spinach, should be here...It's their baby. I can't wait to celebrate with them with a big-glass of South African sparkling wine," Van Der Merwe said.
Meanwhile, at the awards, there were many quirky titled-prizes such as 'Tattoo-free chef of the year' which was bagged by French culinary champion Alain Ducasse. In the 'No Reservations Required' category, Sao Paulo's Mocoto restaurant took the cake. Among the judges were Rene Redzepi of Denmark's Noma restaurant, cookbook legend Yotam Ottolenghi and three Michelin stars winner Clare Smyth of Northern Ireland.