Besides identifying the top restaurant of the year in each of the seven entry categories, for both 2012 and 2013, the judges also had to find the winners of a number of other special awards.
by Rosie Mitchell
Last week we focused on the Service Personality of the Year Award for which there were a total of 45 finalists over the two years. All of these Service People had really shone in the eyes of various of our 30 reviewers who were involved over 2012 and 2013 — sometimes when they were actually reviewing the restaurant concerned, and sometimes, when they were out dining and off reviewing duty but were nonetheless impressed enough by the service person concerned, to send in a nomination.
In addition to the Service Personality of the Year Award, there is also the Personality of the Year Award.
While the former targets outstanding waiters, duty managers and bar people, the latter is given at the discretion of judges and sponsors, to notable individuals in the restaurant trade.
The award is bestowed for a variety of reasons — whether because the person concerned has been a particularly helpful team player in the trade and served their fellow restaurateurs selflessly over many years, helping to promote the trade’s interests as a whole (Gordon Addams, Daniel Marini, Nick Mandeya, Glen Stutchbury), or whether because the individual is a “larger than life” personality who has stood out for demonstrating determination in the face of formidable challenge — a quality found in many restaurateurs!
(Pieter and Elize Oosthuizen), or as exceptionally talented individuals with notable, longstanding dedication to their chosen profession, (Chef Gonzo, Amanda Wessels) or indeed, for any other reason (Bunny Landon — dedicated service to the promotion of wider wine knowledge).
Then, there is the Award of Excellence. This is another discretionary award which the judges can choose to bestow, to recognise the consistent achievement of excellence.
Sometimes, a restaurant performs brilliantly for years on the trot — yet is still for various reasons — that do not in any way reflect on the restaurant concerned — constantly pipped to the post for the Restaurant of the Year Award in its particular entry category.
The judges might then consider that the restaurant concerned fully deserves recognition of its excellent performance, even if it cannot win the award itself. In such instances, the judges might then choose to bestow this award to highlight and reward the restaurant’s achievements.
The award can also be used to recognise consistent excellence in a restaurant which for one reason or another, cannot win the overall award for its category, because it does not quite fit the category definition.
Zoap has never been able to have category definitions that perfectly fit absolutely every entrant, neither would this ever be practicably possible. Or, the judges might choose to give this award for any other reason — as it is discretionary.
The Most Imaginative Dining Experience, introduced in 2009, is very much a self explanatory award! It has been scooped, so far, ever since, by The Boma, in Victoria Falls.
The Most Imaginative Menu Award, also fairly self-explanatory, used to be awarded to just one restaurant annually. Then, since 2011, it has been awarded to the Most Imaginative Menu in each entry category, with one overall winner of the top award.
Finalists are identified as those with top marks for the relevant rating criterion on the Zoap score sheet and the judges study their menus closely to identify the winners.
Likewise, The Wine List of the Year is identified by studying the Wine Lists of the Finalists — who got top marks for the relevant rating criterion on the score sheet.