Meet the All-female Lineup of Chefs who’ll be Cooking at the 2023 Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards

Eat Out Woolworths

Chefs Jackie Cameron, Eleanor Coetzee, Ronel de Jager, Megin Meikle, Motheba Makhetha, Charné Sampson and Carla Schulze will be showcasing their innovation, creativity, expertise and sheer talent at the 2023 Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards.

Taking place at the GrandWest Grand Arena in Cape Town on 19 November, the annual gala event has become a culinary highlight in itself, where the food served reflects South Africa’s dynamic and ever-evolving dining scene.

“Each chef in this year’s all-female star lineup has reached the top of their game in the competitive restaurant industry,” says Melissa Cumming, head of Eat Out. “Handpicked by our chief judge, Abigail Donnelly, each will bring her unique style, adding up to a fabulous five-course food experience for 800 guests.”

Motheba Makhetha, the pastry chef at The Jordan Restaurant, says her vision extends beyond her culinary prowess; she aspires to foster a nurturing and creative kitchen environment and be a role model for aspiring female chefs. “I feel extremely proud to be cooking on a platform as large as the Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards. To be sharing this space with a group of strong, ambitious, and creative like-minded women is a massive win all on its own.”

Makhetha is co-creating the dessert course with Megin Meikle, the head pastry chef at the Marble Group of restaurants, who says: “I have had the privilege of working in various restaurants celebrated at the Eat Out Awards over many years. It’s a pinch-me moment to move from the dining room to the kitchen, serving the dessert to a gathering of some of the most esteemed chefs in the country. I create, teach and live pastry; cooking at the awards is an accolade all on its own.”

Carla Schulze, executive chef at Salon, is creating the fourth course and echoes this sentiment. “It is a great privilege to be cooking alongside fellow chefs who I admire in a room filled with industry legends who I look up to.”

Schulze is an alumnus of the Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine, and Cameron herself will be creating the canapé course with her current students. Cameron comments: “It’s a huge privilege to give my students a glimpse into the awards, showing them that with hard work and determination, they too can get to the top.”

The menu for the Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards draws inspiration from the rustic textures and flavours of earthy grains. Each meticulously crafted course is a testament to the extraordinary quality of the ingredients, many of which will be supplied by the headline sponsor, Woolworths.

Woolworths’ Food CEO, Zyda Rylands, notes: “Woolworths and Eat Out are a natural fit. Both are committed to inspiring South Africans to eat well, and we’re excited to once again be part of an event that celebrates the best food our country has to offer. This year’s selection of an all-women lineup of chefs aligns with our Inclusive Justice Initiative, which acknowledges the extent to which certain groups in our society are marginalised. We want to help shape a society in which everyone is accepted, protected and respected. An important focus area is gender equality and the empowerment of women in the workplace, which we believe is key to a healthy society, good business performance and economic growth. I can’t wait to sample the unique perspectives that chefs Jackie, Eleanor, Ronel, Megin, Motheba, Charné and Carla bring to the table on 19 November.”

The head chef at the La Colombe Group’s Epice, Charné Sampson is known for her culinary adventures and continuous search for new spices and techniques. She is creating the third course and says that guests will have an experience to look forward to. “Spices to a chef are like colours to an artist. To be cooking at the 2023 Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards is an amazing opportunity for myself and Epice to showcase our passion for spices.”

With her second course creation, Eleanor Coetzee, executive chef at Creation Wines Tasting Room, promises “a culinary journey to engage guests’ senses” that’s driven by her deep love and passion for both food and people.

And setting the scene with a bread course of her stunningly decorated artisanal sourdough is Baard & Co mastermind Ronel de Jager.

Donnelly chose each of these chefs not only for their passion and expertise but also for how they are helping to develop the South African food industry – and inspiring more women to rise through the ranks.

Cumming concludes: “Tickets for the 2023 Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards sold out in minutes, so if you’re unable to attend in person, be sure to follow all the live action on Eat Out’s Instagram @eatoutguide.”