i honestly can’t believe i just typed that title. we really thought we’d been invited to the Eat Out awards on sunday as a courtesy because we had been considered…
all we set out to do when we opened The Table at De Meye was to cook food we love for people we really like (and might come to love), using ingredients we love deeply. to be nominated for an award was completely unexpected, to win one has left us stunned.
the team at Eat Out, who do so much for the food industry and for restaurants in this country, (both as a team and in their individual careers as media or food industry practitioners) could have no idea what the award means to us. without your efforts we would not have the fierce competition and inspiration that drives the top chefs we both admire so much. indeed, we wouldn’t even know about half the chefs we now admire, nor would we be exposed to the depth and talent that South Africa has to offer the culinary world. to be recognised by you in this way is nothing short of life-altering. thank you all.
thanks must go to Jason, Camilla’s brother who is the anchor of the kitchen. without his unwavering ability to put up dishes no matter what, his experience, and his portion control which reeled us in when we wanted to keep sending out more and more food, we would not have got very far at all. along with him, our tiny team of 2 scullers and 2 waitresses have just got on and done whatever was needed to serve our growing list of customers with humour and warmth.
much was said at the awards about provenance and suppliers, and we can’t agree enough about their importance. in our own small way we try to honour the amazing producers we have in this country by finding and supporting small growers and provisioners, and cooking food that does a little justice to their incredible efforts. without them we would just have an empty room without so much as a table.
we also need customers for our empty room, and even though we still have no idea how some of you found us, we are grateful for the support of all our new friends. thanks so much to friends new and old who have been sending messages of congratulations and encouragement – this is actually about all of you.
Phil Myburgh the farmer and owner of De Meye has been a rock – a very patient rock – and has provided a beautiful space in which we can live our dream.
somewhere in this, we want to dedicate this award to our moms: my mom taught me that food is more than fuel for the body (and that i should always sit up straight and hold my knife and fork properly). food is about tradition and family and social glue.
camilla’s mom taught her about self-sufficiency and seasonality, about making do, about what ingredient goes with what, and most of all how to cook. thanks to her, Camilla was shooting pigeons for lunch in Botswana long before she learned how to spell “foraging” properly. Colette still calls several times a week to find out what’s on the menu, offer her opinion repeatedly, debate the best way of cooking this or that, and to find out if her son-in-law really intends to make her live out her days in the attic.
oh yeah, and Bertus Basson… you bastard! you knew what was going to happen when you told us to stop dreaming and open a restaurant. you knew about the 7-day weeks and mad hours and crazy equipment hassles – all of it. and you know what? we are deeply grateful to you for being the catalyst and the absolutely brilliant chef and friend that you are.
lastly… congratulations to all the Eat Out 2011 winners and the nominees. thank you and your teams. you all inspire us to unlock that door every week, light the stove and start polishing glasses…