Written for Food&Home. Originally published on 22 November 2022.

We were lucky enough to attend the 2022 Eat Out Woolworths Restaurants Awards, and just wow!

What an incredible experience with gourmet food prepared by award-winning chefs, a selection of carefully curated wine pairings, and, most importantly, an atmosphere filled with the joy of community as the top restaurants and chefs in South Africa came together to celebrate one another.

Over on Instagram we shared a few highlights of the event, but we had to go into more detail about the food.

There were six delicious courses all prepared by immensely talented chefs. From Durban-inspired bunny chow canapés created by Jackie Cameron, to a Senegal-inspired chicken main course from Vusi Ndlovu, we were absolutely spoilt with a range of gourmet fine dining dishes to enjoy.

Each dish was made with fresh wholesome ingredients from Woolies, each paired with a wine that perfectly complemented the flavours of the food. Joseph was our sommelier for the evening who treated us to a wealth of information about the important relationship between wine and food.

Canapés to start with

Jackie Cameron prepared Durban-inspired canapés that focused on the flavours synonymous with Durban.

Spicy Lamb Mini Bunny Chow

Hot Chickpea-and-Courgette Bunny Chow

Sardine Run Fish Cake

Masala Pineapple “Morogo” Crisp

Wine pairing: Woolworths Signature Vintage Reserve Cap Classique by Villiera

Mini bunny chows were beautifully presented with a Durban flair, and the umami flavour from the sardine run fish cake was a treat.

Cameron shared that 150 pineapples were used to add the sweetness to the Masala Pineapple “Morogo” Crisp canapé – an incredible feat to feed over 700 guests!

The first course

Jason Lilley (aka Captain Bread) adds a South African flair to his sought-after creations.

Roasted Potato, Garlic and Rosemary Roll with Cultured Butter

Beer pairing: Stella Artois

For the first course, we got to enjoy a soft and flavoursome roll with a delicate balance of garlic and rosemary sprinkled with Maldon salt. Slathered in cultured butter, it was a delicious introduction to the dishes ahead.

The second course

Moses Moloi took his inspiration from Mexico and Korea to create a truly unique second course.

Trout Ceviche

Asparagus-Coconut Tiger’s Milk

Wine pairing: Woolworths Signature Chardonnay by De Wetshof

This dish was an excellent combination of coconut milk creaminess and a soft spicy bite from the ceviche. It paired beautifully with the chardonnay for a delicious sip and sup experience.

Moloi said that he continues to research and try new products to create dishes that just get better and better.

The third course

Vusi Ndlovu is one of the founding members of the African Culinary Library, so it is no surprise that the delicious third course celebrates Senegal.

Chicken Yassa

Wine pairing: Woolworths Signature Chenin Blanc by Ken Forrester

This Chicken Yassa was divine! The combination of flavours and textures created a moreish dish that had one guest host’s undeniable praise before the next award was announced.

The fourth course

Anouchka Horn and Neil Swart from Belly of the Beast – awarded 2 stars at the event – drew their inspiration for the fourth course from what they love to eat.

Pap en Vleis

Wine pairing: Woolworths Signature Pinotage by Beyerskloof

This Pap en Vleis is like no other you’ve ever tasted. Their gourmet spin on this South African dish was a hit amongst table 30. The soft cheesy pap contrasted deliciously with the crispy onion garnish. Paired with pinotage it was a feast of flavour.

The fifth course

Scott Parker’s nostalgic fifth course was presented in a simple but fun way that had emcee Zola Nene singing the Melrose jingle.

Oh Boy!

Smoked Stanford Catalan

Wine pairing: Woolworths Signature Cabernet Sauvignon by Thelema

A “Melrose moment” was served in a glass jar garnished with fresh Woolies’ ingredients. Leaf-shaped crisps dipped in Marmite – for an English flair – were festively presented in a bed of pine needles. Dipping the crunchy crisps into the cheesy fifth course took us back to our childhood.

Desserts to share

Bertus Basson is a celebrity chef and restaurateur that served up an innovative dessert that was a spectacle on its own.

Die appel val nie vêr van die boom nie / The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

Wine pairing: WCC Nectar Royale

Dessert was served in a wooden crate for guests to share amongst those at their tables. It was reminiscent of farm life with apple-shaped desserts, and a delicious fruity cake.

Basson used his grandmother’s Greek style cake recipe (although he stated that there was nothing Greek about it from what he can find) that we covered in custard for that homemade feel.

We were truly spoilt by this delicious six course menu. Congratulations to all those involved in preparing, cooking, and serving these beautifully presented gourmet dishes!

Feature image: Sandy Norman