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Dining Awards take on a green hue

CAPE TOWN, MONDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 2010 – The American Express® Platinum Card Fine Dining Awards, which have been running for over a decade, are set to plant a bright green seed this year. And judging from the number of platinum establishments added since inception of the programme in 1998, fine dining is alive and well in South Africa.

The programme has grown steadily, from 18 restaurants awarded in 1999, to 55 in 2003, then settling on a stable plateau since reaching 85 in 2010, with an 88-strong Awards list for 2011.

This year highlights green awareness in response to increased environmental consciousness in all aspects of the hospitality industry and more importantly in keeping with Nedbank’s Deep Green Aspirations. According to Vanessa Singh, Head of Card Marketing for American Express, the awards aim to encourage Platinum restaurants to align themselves with the eco-responsible ideals, while still satisfying discerning food lovers.

The selection criteria for the American Express Platinum Fine Dining Awards include quality of cuisine, service (including menu and wine knowledge), wine list, décor and ambience, with strong emphasis on maintaining high levels of consistency. Standards are checked thoroughly and restaurants are regularly re-evaluated by the programme’s inaugural judge, well-known national restaurant critic, Victor Strugo, assisted since June 2010 in the Western Cape by Tamsin Snyman, daughter of the sadly-missed Lannice Snyman and a respected foodie in her own right

‘In keeping with global trends, we are considering introducing elements of green awareness in the judging criteria, so as to encourage our award-winners to strive harder at being environmentally conscious,’ says Singh.

The Awards programme was introduced to South Africa thirteen years ago following the success of the international Platinum Fine Dining Programme. It was developed for Platinum Cardmembers as a service to guide discerning diners toward superior dining opportunities expectations by removing the randomness in searching for and booking gourmet destinations.

Through the association of the Platinum Fine Dining Programme, restaurants belonging to the programme continue to offer a wider spectrum in fine dining and a diverse range of cuisines that appeal to both local and international food enthusiasts.

‘The consistency and top quality service offered at these restaurants encourage consumers to come back for more,’ adds Singh.

Last year saw the introduction of an American Express mentorship programme. University of Johannesburg graduate Yemurayi Bamhare had the honour of being the first trainee to be fast-tracked into the real world of fine dining with apprenticeships at renowned restaurants Bellagio and Piccolo Mondo. Bamhare has now successfully completed the first half-year of the programme under the guidance of Louise Castle, and is currently under the mentorship of Piccolo Mondo’s Andrew Atkinson. With this training, Bamhare is well on her way to take the next step along the path to mastery of the culinary arts.

The Cape Town leg of the awards was held at Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine in Stellenbosch, where restaurateurs received their Platinum Awards for 2011. Among these are La Colombe, which leaped up from 38th to 12th position in the 2010 S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurant Awards and The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français, which has featured 8 times in this annual poll and is currently ranked 31st.

In accepting the award, each restaurant guarantees to honour at least one late dinner reservation by American Express Platinum Card members who call before 10:30 on the morning of the reservation date.

Nedbank is an Authorised Financial Services and Credit Provider.

For more information contact:

Notes to editors:
Please note this year’s winners respectively:
New Awards in the Western Cape:

Il Leone, The Roundhouse (Cape Town)
Jardine at Jordan (Stellenbsoch)
Sansibar at Fancourt, Trans Karoo, Zinzi @ Tsala (Garden Route)
Kalinka Karoo Cuisine (Oudtshoorn)

Renewed Awards in the Western Cape:
Aubergine, Belthazar Restaurant & Wine Bar, Bizerca Bistro, Buitenverwachting
Bukhara, Catharina's, Constantia Uitsig, Emily's, The Foodbarn, Gold, The Greenhouse, Haiku, Jardine, La Colombe, Myoga, Savoy Cabbage (Cape Peninsula)

96 Winery Road, Boschendal, Bread & Wine, Fraai Uitzicht 1798, French Connection Bistro, Haute Cabrière Cellar Restaurant, Mimosa Lodge, Overture @ Hidden Valley, The Pavilion, Reuben’s, Rust en Vrede, Seafood at The Marine, the Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français, (Cape Winelands)

Hunter’s Country House Restaurant, Sand at the Plettenberg (Plettenberg Bay)
La Locanda, Stonehill, Serendipity (George and surrounds)
Pembreys, Zachary's (Knysna)

Renewed Award in the Eastern Cape:
Hacklewood Hill (Port Elizabeth)

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