South Africa’s 2019 plated chefs announced

JHP Gourmet Guide 2019

The 2019 JHP Gourmet Guide awards and announcement of plated chefs and restaurants was an intimate, memorable affair at The Restaurant @ The Nek. It was an opportunity to thank generous sponsors Swiss International Air Lines, KitchenAid, Mervyn Gers Ceramics and Taittinger.

The first Haute Performance winners were announced, their prizes handed over by Ina Paarman. Chefs collected their bespoke toques and plates, sipped Taittinger and devoured tasty snacks prepared by chef Dylan Laity (plated in 2017 and 2018). SWISS handed over the second Culinary Innovation award to Luke Dale Roberts of The Test Kitchen.


In Europe, the UK and USA, Asia and South America it is the honour of Michelin stars that restaurants and chefs aspire to. One, two or three hat-awards keeps chefs in Australia producing world-class cuisine. In South Africa, it’s one, two or three plates that chefs proudly hang on their walls to show the world that they too have reached a pinnacle of their career.

South Africa’s restaurant plate rating, which equates to global standards for evaluating and rewarding fine dining establishments, has been acknowledged for its impartiality and credibility. Plated chefs and restaurants feature in the annual, glossy, keepsake JHP Gourmet Guide™, with their recipes.

One plate highlights exceptional cuisine, two plates are presented for exceptional dining that demands a detour, and three for a world-class dining experience that is worthy of a flight.

“It took many years of global research to understand what sophisticated diners want in an unforgettable restaurant experience. Dining at world-class establishments has given me not only the honour of interviewing the chefs that make it happen, but also to compare our restaurants, and to be justifiably proud of our homegrown chefs,” says curator and originator of the award, Jenny Handley.

Rather than comparing SA restaurants and chefs to one another, the JHP Gourmet Guide™ benchmarks according to global icons. A seafood restaurant will be compared to, for example, Le Bernardin in New York which holds three Michelin stars and was voted number one in New York in four out of five years. A country manor restaurant could be compared to Raymond Blanc’s Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, holder of two Michelin stars.


South African cuisine is bringing culinary travels from all over the world, particularly to the Western Cape and winelands. Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde states: “Tourism is one of the major contributors to the Western Cape economy and one of the engine rooms for job creation. As a result of the rich diversity of cultures, wide variety of restaurants and the exceptional calibre of our chefs, the Western Cape has earned itself a reputation as a foodie haven, attracting visitors from all around the world. From tiny hole-in-the-wall style restaurants, to award winning fine dining, the province has something to suit every palate. By supporting these establishments, visitors and locals alike are helping to fuel economic growth, and create new jobs in the province.”

Says Handley, “Whilst we cannot change the concentration of fine dining restaurants in certain regions, like Cape Town and the winelands, we consciously ask for nominations from all over the country. Initial visits are anonymous, and only the visit at which the chef is interviewed, is announced and hosted. Restaurants that rate highly are considered for a plating. As consistency is one of the more important criteria, over 30 in all, chefs can only be evaluated for a plate after completing a season in the restaurant. One aspect of fine dining we can change is upskilling people who wish to work in this engaging, exciting industry. As there is no barrier to entry, people with the right attitude can start at the bottom and develop aptitude,” says Handley.

Handley owns a brand performance business, and in addition to producing and curating the annual JHP Gourmet Guide™, has written three bestselling business books aimed at inspiring and empowering people in business. The first JHP Gourmet Guide™ was launched in 2016/17, the 2018 guide won an international Gourmand World Cookbook Award. The 2019 guide will be available in leading bookstores, Woolworths and online at R299.

“Having been plated in the 2017 and 2018 JHP Gourmet Guide™, it is a privilege to be hosting the 2019 launch and welcoming the top chefs in SA to our new fine dining restaurant. The awards are very special, to be associated with the best of our business is an honour and something to be proud of. The JHP Gourmet Guide™ is a beautifully published book of all the top restaurants in our country, and one that I’m proud to be a part of,” says chef Dylan Laity.

Plated chefs were given plates and bespoke wine coolers crafted by Mervyn Gers Ceramics, and the five Haute Performance Award winners received a custom-designed collector’s item of crockery, and an artisanal mixer from KitchenAid.


The inaugural Haute Performance Awards have been created, established for those who are creating footprints in the industry. The 2019 winners are Candice Philip of Grei (Haute Property), who was plated in 2018, Bertus Basson of Overture (Haute Passion), Adriaan Maree of Fermier (Haute Pride), Kobus van der Merwe of Wolfgat (Haute Provenance) and Liam Tomlin of Chefs Warehouse (Haute People). Trailblazer Luke Dale Roberts won the 2019 SWISS Culinary Innovation Award, to fly to Europe on SWISS Business, with a partner.


Newcomer to the three-plated list in 2019 is Greenhouse, deservedly joining La Colombe, Restaurant Mosaic and The Test Kitchen. Taking their place on the list of two-plate holders for the first time is Camphors at Vergelegen, along with Chef’s Warehouse at Beau Constantia, dw eleven-13, Foliage, Indochine, Nobu, The Pot Luck Club, and The Restaurant at Waterkloof.

First-timers for a one plate are Cavalli, Chefs Warehouse at Maison, La Petite Colombe, Le coin Français, Rust en Vrede, The Shortmarket Club and Urbanologi. Jordan Restaurant has returned to the list, joining stalwarts Aubergine, Chef’s Table at Belmond Mount Nelson, Marble, Myoga and Terroir from 2018.

Thank you to Bevan Cockcroft for capturing this memorable event.

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