My trip to Saudi Arabia, where I visited the AL FAISALIAH HOTEL-a Rosewood Hotel, in Riyadh to showcase my South African flavours in the first ever female cheffing event, was specifically planned around returning home just in time to attend the 2014 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards staged on Sunday 16 November.
There was no way I was missing this event, even though I was not eligible for an award. For many years my sights have been set on a Top 10 Restaurant Award - and I have had the honour of being presented with a few. This year, however, I was out of the running because my new venture is still in its infancy. The rules dictate that a restaurant must be at least a year old to qualify. Watch out. I'll be back!
It was simple, I wanted to share the anxiety and the excitement of the occasion; and I wanted to be part of the happy group of like-minded foodies who always attend this prestigeous event.
For a restaurant to make the Top 20 in this country is pretty special. I know; I've been there. From the age of 25, in fact, and that's the year I collected my first Top 10 Award. There's no prize for guessing my present age!
The Eat Out Awards has been an important part of my career for a long time and although I had to take a back seat this year, so to speak, it was important for me to be there. This is a major event for the leading foodies in South Africa. It's the 'Oscars' of the culinary industry. Most of the people involved have become great friends who I chat to on a regular basis and it's always a happy occasion when we get together for the biggest annual reunion.
This year's event, hosted at Thunder City Airport Hangar at Cape Town International Airport, brought in around 800 guests. It was the biggest party to date. My only regret was that I didn't get to see everyone - all those special folk who, over the years, have made an indelible impression on my life - but that was simply impossible.
If you followed my twitter feed you would have seen the awards playing out as they did on the evening. Expectations were fulfilled and it was a very exciting event. If you missed it, follow the link below. It was special for so many reasons and I take this opportunity to congratulate all the winners, nominees, judges - in fact the entire team. They all contributed to make this a most memorable occasion.
Good luck for the coming season!