The World Restaurant Awards

South Africa's Wolfgat is Restaurant of the Year

A restaurant in a tiny fishing village in South Africa has put its stamp on the international gastronomy circuit after winning the acclaimed title of 'Restaurant of the Year'.
Kobus van der Merwe is the chef of Wolfgat, which specialises in local seafood and plants foraged from the Western Cape.
Kobus van der Merwe is the chef of Wolfgat, which specialises in local seafood and plants foraged from the Western Cape.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A Japanese offshoot of Noma, a Bangkok fine-dining restaurant and a South African ocean-side cottage eatery were among the winners of the inaugural The World Restaurant Awards announced on Monday.

South Africa's Wolfgat - which specialises in local seafood and plants foraged from the Western Cape - won the highest honour of Restaurant of the Year, as well as the accolade of Off-Map Destination.

Tokyo's Inua, which opened in June last year, was named Arrival of the Year, while Bangkok's Bo.Lan won the Tweezer-Free Kitchen award for its more "hands-on" style of plating.

Other more tongue-in-cheek awards went to French chefs Alain Ducasse, who received the Tattoo-Free Chef honour; and Alain Passard for the Instagram Account award.

Le Clarence restaurant in Paris won for Original Thinking, while Lyon's 98-year-old restaurant La Mere Brazier was lauded as an Enduring Classic.

In its bid to be more comprehensive and diverse, the inaugural awards showcased winners in 18 categories across 10 countries.

The awards are produced by IMG - an events, media, fashion and sports company which operates in more than 30 countries - in partnership with restaurant journalist Joe Warwick and food writer and broadcaster Andrea Petrini.

Two Singapore eateries were longlisted for the awards, but not shortlisted.

Sungei Road Laksa in Jalan Berseh was nominated in the House Special category for establishments defined by a particular dish, while one-Michelin-star modern Australian barbecue restaurant Burnt Ends in Teck Lim Road received two nominations - for No Reservations Required (for restaurants that accept walk-in diners) and Tweezer-free Kitchen.

The winners were decided by a panel of 100 judges from 37 countries, who include chefs, restaurateurs, journalists and film-makers.

High-profile names included Danish chef Rene Redzepi of Noma in Denmark; Italian chef Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy; American restaurateur David Chang of the Momofuku restaurant group, with restaurants across the United States, Canada and Australia; and Canada-born chef May Chow of Little Bao in Hong Kong.

Representing Singapore on the panel was Japanese food journalist Kyoko Nakayama, who has been based here for five years.

She writes for local publications such as Tatler Dining by Singapore Tatler and is also a columnist with Forbes Japan.

Ms Cecile Rebbot, director of The World Restaurant Awards from IMG, said: "We are proud to have given a global stage to a diverse spectrum of incredibly deserving restaurants, teams, experiences and initiatives.

"We set out to create a truly international awards with a fresh approach, recognising the full breadth and depth of the industry, but this is only the beginning in terms of the restaurant experiences around the world that we want to explore and discover."

• For the full list of awards, go to

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2019, with the headline 'South Africa's Wolfgat is Restaurant of the Year'. Print Edition | Subscribe