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Lannice Wins Lifetime Achievement Award

At the Eat Out Awards in November 2006, Lannice Snyman received the Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to South Africa’s culinary scene, and specifically her work as writer, publisher, restaurant critic and founder editor of Eat Out.
This report is by Donald Paul, writing for The Weekender:
It has been said that the side dishes served with the main event often steal the heart away. In the case of the 2006 Eat Out awards, it was the Lifetime Achievement award that stole every one’s heart.
At a lavish ceremony to launch the 2007 Eat Out restaurant guide, not only were the top-10 eateries in the country honoured but so too was ex-restaurateur, publisher, editor, food writer and consultant Lannice Snyman. In presenting her with the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award, the guide’s editor Abigail Donnelly said the award went to Lannice because she was “someone whose contribution to the South African culinary scene was invaluable” and because she is “one of the country’s most experienced and well-respected food personalities”.
Before readers dash off furious emails to my editor about impartiality, let me say upfront that not only is Lannice a good friend, but we work together. I have, over many years, had the privilege and honour to get to know Lannice and her family. We first met many years ago at the Cellars-Hohenort restaurant where a young Scotsman by the name of George Jardine had recently taken over stirring the pots in the kitchen. And it’s that George who was judged 2006 Chef of the Year by the same 2007 Eat Out judging panel that honoured Lannice. Life does have moments of serendipity.
Lannice even 10 years ago had a formidable reputation and to say I was awed would be economical with the truth. I was largely terrified. She’s smart and with a tongue sharp as a chef’s knife. But beneath that kitchen savvy, that sharp tongue and that extraordinary and wicked power of observation is an immensely charming, intensely warm, hugely humorous, eccentric, loveable noble woman.
Her company, Lannice Snyman Publishers, has probably done more not only for recording and documenting this country’s cuisine but making it accessible to others, and in so doing ensuring that people continue the traditions of good food for which this country can become increasingly proud.
She published her first book, Free from the Sea, which she co-authored with Anne Klarie, in 1979. The title is in its 12th reprint and still selling well. Her other classic, Braai in Style, published in 1983, has been reprinted eight times, and was revamped in 1993. These two titles alone have sold more than 100 000 copies each and are among the most successful cookbooks in the country.
In 1995 she formed S&S Publishers and over the next five years produced three books that have become classics in their own right: Reflections of the South African Table, (1995), Rainbow Cuisine (1998) and Gourmet Hideaways of Southern Africa (2000). In 2001 she renamed the company Lannice Snyman Publishers and expanded her publishing portfolio to include mainstream cookbooks and contract publishing for the broader commercial market.
Her books and menus are impeccably researched down to the last pinch of salt, and they are fun. Her most recent release – and she published two of her own books this year as well as those of others – is the sensually eccentric and erotically-charged FruitArt, which the photographer, Malcolm Dare, said was the kitchen’s answer to the Pirelli calendar. And if you don’t have a copy of Posh Nosh (reviewed on these pages earlier this year) then make sure you put it on your Christmas wish list.
Though the title “Eat Out” was launched nine years ago, the guide has been around for 20 years, and Lannice was the founding editor. “When we conceived the annual,`’ said John Psilllos, executive director of New Media Publishing, when he presented the award, ‘Lannice was the first person we approached with the idea, and she came along for this long ride. She laid the foundations for this guide and what it is today.”
Around about the same time, she was appointed Cookery Editor at the Sunday Times, a post she held for 10 years and for which she received, in 1997, a coveted Galliova Award for Best Foodwriter.
Lannice stepped down as editor of Eat Out three years ago. “Five restaurants a week is bit much for anyone’s constitution,” she said. “Most of my adult life had been spent serving Eat Out; serving the chefs, the industry, the readers, the advertisers and the sponsors. When I left I thought that my serving of the industry was over – and I was looking forward to a life without restaurants. And so was my husband, Michael, who visited all of them with me.”
But that proved to be wishful thinking. Two years ago she was asked by the UK-based Restaurant Magazine to head the Southern African and Indian Ocean Islands sector of the 50 Best Restaurants of the World, an annual awards guide. “It’s given me the opportunity to eat internationally and to go to restaurants that are cracking the nod in terms of the ‘best in the world’. And looking over my shoulder at what’s happening in South Africa today, I really believe that countries are defined by their cuisine; the food being served by any country defines its heart, its soul and its life.”
She firmly believes that what South Africa’s top chefs are doing at the moment is world-class and she cites the fact that chef Margot Janse at Le Quartier Francais in Franschhoek has been in the top 50 for the past two years, one of only two South African restaurants to achieve this.
“The fact that this accolade is largely decided by overseas votes (only 30 votes from a total of over 2500 can come from South Africa) attests to the fact that restaurants in this small corner of the world are cracking the international nod” says Lannice. And tracking and recording the trends for so many years has been a fascinating and soul-enriching journey.”

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