In a move that no one saw coming, Cape Town’s most revered chef Luke Dale Roberts has stepped down from being judged at the Eat Out Awards. Roberts world-recognised restaurant, The Test Kitchen, held the coveted number one position on the list of South Africa’s best restaurants for six years in a row before taking second place in 2018 and 2019.
His decision to not partake in the awards comes on the heels of Chantel Dartnall, Head Chef and Proprietor of Restaurant Mosaic, stepping down in a speech at the Eat-Out Awards ceremony held two weeks ago.

“It’s been an enormous honour to have received so many accolades from the Eat Out Awards over the years, but we feel that the time is right to step aside and let the next generation of younger chefs receive the recognition they are due,” says Dale Roberts.

“The Test Kitchen has always been about pushing the boundaries of creativity and dining experience. One of the great joys of being a chef is the freedom to channel our own creativity onto the plate in whatever way we deem to be our own. The Test Kitchen is proud to call South Africa home, but our inspirations are global. Although we’re stepping away from the Eat-Out Awards we look forward to continuing our journey of culinary discovery.”

According to Dartnall, there has been criticism about the Cape-centric bias of the annual restaurant awards since its inception in 1998. She maintains that there are “so many chefs” who do receive the recognition they deserve from the awards.

Chantel Dartnall is the head chef of Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient (Source: Chantel Dartnall/Facebook)

“I have decided that after having set foot on the Eat Out stage 10 times, being recognised not only as one of their top 10 restaurants, but also having taken home the title of chef of the year twice, and Mosaic’s Sommelier Moses Magwasa has also had the honour of going home with the wine service award two consecutive years that we will be stepping aside to vacate our position in the top 10 lineup to allow for the new generation of chefs and restaurants to shine on the culinary stage,” Dartnall said in a statement.

The chef’s statement was met with widespread support, with many agreeing that there are other, younger and not as yet well-established chefs who too need a spotlight shone on their culinary masterpieces.

Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient was the only non-Cape eatery on the 2019 list of Eat-Out’s SA’s Top 10 restaurants, and claimed the number nine spot.

“My team and I will now continue to focus on what we do best at Restaurant Mosaic – creating magical dining experiences for our guests, supporting our local suppliers and growing the talent of our young chefs and my front of house team in the years to come,” Dartnall added.

In response, Eat Out’s editor-in-chief Adelle Horler said that while they respect Dartnall’s choice, they have to maintain their integrity as listing the best in the country. This will have to include Mosaic as the cannot ignore the best dining restaurants in the country.

Picture: Manley Communications

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Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.