Kobus van der Merwe foraging on the West Coast

A tiny restaurant nestled in the charming fishing village of Paternoster was named the Best Restaurant in the World for 2019 in the internationally-acclaimed World Restaurant Awards.

Headed and managed by talented Chef Kobus van der Merwe, Wolfgat is committed to using indigenous ingredients, many of which are foraged from the nearby Atlantic Ocean and surroundings, and has created a unique menu.

Wolfgat is in a 130-year-old fisherman cottage and though unassuming, it offers a fine-dining experience for diners.

The restaurant is located in an area of geological and archaeological significance near the famous Wolfgat cave, where animal bones dating back 2 000 years have been found along with ancient artifacts such as beads and ceramics.

With a mere six staff members, who are mostly female, the restaurant has already made a name for itself since opening only two years ago.

According to AFP, Chef Van der Merwe is inspired by flavours from Cape Malay dishes and strongly believes in sustainable cooking and eating, aiming to keep his dishes’ ingredients “pure, raw and untreated”.

Held in the capital of France, the World Restaurant Awards celebrate restaurants for their cultural value, and each contestant is judged by a panel of experts in the industry from across the world.

This is already the second accolade Chef Van Der Merwe has received after being dubbed the Eat Out S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna Chef of the Year in 2018.

Van der Merwe expressed his gratitude in a social media post after receiving the Best Restaurant award.

“I’m really proud to bring something like this back to our continent and beautiful country. I’m very proud to be working in a team of mostly women.”

The seven-course menu made up of a series of local dishes created from ingredients in the surrounding landscape. Sustainable seafood and local lamb and venison along with wild herbs from the garden and seaweeds from the local rock pools are used in the creation of the dishes.

The small restaurant only caters to 20 diners per sitting and serves lunch from Wednesday to Sunday at 12.30pm. Dinner is served from 7pm on Fridays and 6.30pm on Saturdays.

Wolfgat’s official website says it caters to a small number of guests to stick to its goal of sustainability, and that ingredients for meals are picked on the same day the dishes are served.

“We only book 20 diners per sitting – by keeping it small, we keep it sustainable.”

Wolfgat was also named the the best off-map destination at the awards.

We applaud Wolfgat and Van Der Merwe for their achievements in putting the Western Cape on the international food map.