It's a brand-new era for the Eat Out Restaurant Awards, with Eat Out welcoming premium food retailer Woolworths as its headline partner for 2022.
Eat Out brand custodian Aileen Lamb says: "Woolies sponsored the Eat Out Sustainability Award for many years, and we're ecstatic to welcome them as the title sponsor for the full ceremony in 2022. It's now officially the Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards!
"Our chefs, front-of-house and kitchen teams have had to dig deep as our industry took one blow after another over the past two years. The strength, resilience and sense of community they have shown has inspired us at Eat Out, and they deserve our wholehearted support and praise as they continue to inspire us with their craft. With Woolworths as our headline partner, we are ready to give our inspirational restaurant community the celebration of a lifetime this year."
Returning after a two-year hiatus, and with Abigail Donnelly back at the helm as chief judge, the 2022 Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards will also feature five of the country's most respected industry experts as judges. Joining Abigail in giving a rating – rather than a ranking – to each of the country's best restaurants are Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, chef Karen Dudley, sommelier Moses Magwaza, food activist and cookbook author Mokgadi Itsweng, and food writer and broadcaster Anna Trapido.
Woolworths Foods' chief executive officer, Zyda Rylands, says: "Quality, flavour and innovation are at the heart of everything Woolworths offers – these attributes deliver The Woolies Difference our customers have come to love. These qualities are built over years of investment in and partnership with local artisans and producers who share our passion for sustainable, innovative, quality products.
"Partnering with Eat Out means having the opportunity to recognise and reward restaurants and chefs who share our values without ever compromising on excellence. It's an opportunity to show customers that those who care, win.
"While the Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards evening is all about celebrating the best, the journey to get there is a rediscovery of the craft of our talented chefs, the power of community and the joy of fresh, unique and delightfully local flavours."
Woolworths Foods' divisional director: Commercial, Chan Pillay, adds: "It's a privilege to be part of a new era for the restaurant industry, not just in South Africa, but globally. The past two years have seen the sector go through unimaginable hardship and we want to be a part of helping the industry reinvent themselves and continue to contribute to the economy, in a considered and sustainable way. Our Good Business Journey sets us apart from competitors, in the same way that award-winning restaurants excel. Caring for our customers starts with sourcing quality ingredients in a way that supports the community first and is kind to the planet – and we believe that restaurants and chefs with the same purpose will thrive."