Eat Out Mercedes Benz Restaurant Awards 2015

Eat Out Top 10 Judging Criteria

I recently published the list of 20 restaurants which have been nominated for the 2015 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards. The Eat Out judges will evaluate them and select the best 10. The judging panel changes each year, this year it consisted of:

  • Abigail Donnelly, editor of Eat Out
  • Jackie Cameron, award-winning former chef at Hartford House and owner of the Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine
  • Benny Masekwameng, MasterChef SA judge and professional chef
  • Siba Mtongana, award-winning food writer and celebrity TV chef

But I was curious about what the actual criteria for selecting the winners. I emailed Eat Out to ask them if they could share the criteria with me and they were happy to, so I thought I should share it with you!

Eat Out Mercedes Benz Restaurant Awards 2015

Each restaurant is scored on these criteria, out of a total of 100:

FOOD {70}
Menu composition, seasonality and sustainability
The judge looks for balance – on the menu, in the dishes, cooking styles, techniques and ingredients – and an awareness of different dietary requirements.
Appreciation of the use of local, seasonal produce, ethically sourced animal products and sustainable fish species. {15}

Food presentation
Does the food look appealing? Is the dish plated beautifully? Does it fit the menu description? {15}

The judge considers the execution of the dishes, and the balance of flavours and textures. {25}

Price and value for money
What is delivered on the plate and how is it served? Do the dishes offer value for money, considering what you get and where you are? {5}

Wine choice
The variety of beverages on offer, wine and food pairings, knowledge of the sommelier and staff, and good value for money are all important aspects. {10}

From making the reservation to settling the bill, service is all-important to a pleasant experience. The judge will evaluate the attitude of staff, their knowledge of the menu, specials and wine pairing, and their willingness to go the extra mile to accommodate special requests.

This category encompasses the spirit of a restaurant and the overall feeling it creates. Do you feel comfortable? Has thought gone into designing and decorating the interior? Are the glasses, cutlery and linen all spotless? Is the music pleasant and bathroom sparkling?

Additionally, there are two new awards that I was curious about, Wine Service and Sustainability. These are awarded to any restaurant, not just those in the top 20. I think these new awards are a great addition to the Eat Out awards and each is very important. So I asked how those are judged as well…

Criteria for the Wine Service Award

This is the third consecutive year that this accolade will be awarded. The Wine Service Award acknowledges the top sommelier in the country, rewarding their knowledge and the demonstration thereof through superior, polished and elegant service, caring for the customer in an appropriate manner, and sophisticated guidance. Also considered is the quality of the food and wine pairing, and how it reflects the harmony between the chef’s philosophy and the menu, the selection of wine producers, with a variety of prices and styles, and value for money.

Criteria for the Woolworths Sustainability Award

This new award will go to a restaurant that has shown the greatest commitment to sourcing ingredients ethically and responsibly. The winning restaurant will serve as inspiration to both consumers and the food industry, creating greater awareness of responsible shopping and eating. Essential criteria include sourcing sustainable fish species, free-range meat, poultry and dairy, and the finest local, organic and seasonal produce, as well as showing respect for the surrounding communities, saving water and energy, and reducing food waste.

What do you think of the criteria? Do they fully evaluate a restaurant? Are the weightings correct? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

The top 10 restaurants in the country will be announced at the Restaurant Awards ceremony on 15 November at Mistico Equestrian Centre, near Paarl. (Buy tickets here.)


2 responses to “Eat Out Top 10 Judging Criteria”

  1. How do a Restaurant enter?

    1. Restaurants must be nominated for the Eat Out 500, the top 20 are selected from those when they have been reviewed. Keep an eye on their website for the next round of nominations >