TWENTY FOUR eateries will on Friday, 10 February 2017, be crowned as the winners of the 2016 Klein Karoo Gourmand Awards / Smulpaaptoekennings.
These prestigious awards had a makeover last year with eateries judged in four categories. The top six restaurants in each category will be awarded on Friday.
According to the celebrity chef Francois Ferreira, who initiated the awards in 2012 with the foodie Ann Hadley, the increase in restaurants in the Little Karoo made it necessary for them to reflect on the previous format of the Gourmand Awards where only the top 20 or top 10 were awarded.
It was decided to judge the eateries in the Klein Karoo in four categories for 2016, namely farm stall eateries, hotel restaurants, casual eateries and restaurants.
The eateries were visited at least 12 times during the year by mystery diners, paying special attention to consitent good quality – the food, the menu and wine list, atmosphere and service.
Eateries along the R62 from Montagu to De Rust are among the winners.
The winners will be named on Friday at an awards function in the Queen’s Breakfast Room at the Queen’s Hotel in Oudtshoorn.
Die Hoorn is the media partner of the awards.
• Criteria for The Klein Karoo Gourmand Awards / Smulpaaptoekennings:
A restaurant is visited by at least 12 mystery diners excluding François and/or Anne. The points taken into account vary depending on the establishment, but the important thing to note is that each restaurant is judged on its own merit and not compared to any other, the quality of the service and food should be consistent but the following main elements are also taken into consideration.
The keyword of the Klein Karoo Gourmand Awards is CONSISTENCY!
How do you feel when you enter the establishment?
How are you treated by the welcoming staff?
Is the establishment clean and neat?
Is the music just right or too loud?
Do you feel comfortable or claustrophobic?
Is the colour scheme pleasant or garishly in your face?
Serving staff should be groomed, neatly dressed, no piecings and should be a credit to the establishment.
One of the most important elements in service is good unobtrusive service and product knowledge.
A good waitron knows exactly when to come over, take your order, bring your food, check all is well and bring the bill.
No “Is everything still all right?” when they have not first established if “everything is all right”, no hovering around and constant checking – it irritates!
Food serviced within a reasonable time after ordering.
The bill produced soon after it was requested
A tip is a privilege, NOT a right
Toilets and wash rooms:
These must be clean and odour free.
Sufficient extra paper and drying equipment.
Be checked VERY regularly by a staff member.
Food: The judges expect consistency:
Clean cutlery and crockery and glasses with no chips, clean cloths with no holes and ironed or clean tables and placemats.
Portion size must be good, food must be attractively presented, be it a burger or gourmet meal, food should arrive simultaneously, plates should be heated.
Orders must be correct, no medium steaks when you ordered medium rare.
There must be a balance of flavours with nothing overpowering; of textures to keep your interest, and of colour as one does eat with your eyes as well.
If a dish is on a menu (not a specials’ board) it should taste the same each time ordered and not vary according to the chef’s whim.
“Specials” are there for the chef to make use of fresh produce and to show off his/her special talents and the menu is there for people who want to eat specific foods.
All foods should be fresh not frozen and taste as if it was made especially for you.
Each diner must be made to feel special.
Wine stewards or waitrons serving wines need to have:
Be taught the correct way to pour wine – sufficient in the glass for tasting purposes and not over filling a glass for drinking.
The judges do not expect them to be sommeliers or to know about wine pairing but to know the basics of each wine type
They should also ask if you want your wine to be topped up, not assume that you want it.
Bottles must be opened at the table.
The menu should be well balanced with a good product mix, taking all tastes into consideration.
Prices should be commensurate with the type of restaurant and not outrageous. No-one likes being ripped off.
Menus should not be too large and complicated as it leads to indecision.
A large menu also questions the freshness of products.
This holds for both food and wine.
Dining out should be a joyful experience, it should tantalize the taste buds and feed the soul and the diner should go home feeling the meal was memorable and they will return.
All dinners are paid for by the team of ghost diners and are not sponsored in any way by Die Hoorn.
The decision of the panel and convenors is final.