Famous and rising stars in the culinary world gathered in Paris, France, on February 18 for the first-ever World Restaurant Awards put on by IMG. The ceremony was hosted by French entertainment personality Antoine de Caunes and judged by a panel of 100 restaurant journalists, influencers and culinary professionals from 37 different countries.
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The title "Restaurant of the Year" went to Wolfgat in Paternoster, South Africa. The 130-year-old oceanside cottage is tucked away inside Wolfgat cave and intimately houses just 20 diners at a time. Judges commend this restaurant for its menu, which is "perfectly balanced between creativity and accessibility." So what's for dinner? A seven-course seasonal tasting menu comprised of sustainable seafood, local lamb and venison, and plants foraged by head chef Kobus van der Merwe.
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Wolfgat also received the honor for best "Off-Map Destination" - a category that organizers say embodies the awards' ambition to reflect the full breadth and depth of the international restaurant scene. Some other major winners include Le Clarence in Paris for "Original Thinking," the Cacio e Pepe at Lido 84 on the shores of Lake Garda in Italy for "House Special," the multi-city Refugee Food Festival for "Event of the Year" and Vespertine in California for "Atmosphere."
Then there were the "Small Plates" awards. Alain Ducasse, who runs a number of restaurants in France, took the title for "Tattoo-Free Chef." Alain Passard, chef and owner of L'ArpÃ¨ge in Paris, was recognized for his noteworthy Instagram account, and Lisa Abend was awarded for long-form journalism for her piece "Welcome to the Food Circus" in Sweden's Fool magazine. To see the full list of winners, visit the World Restaurant Awards website. For incredible eats closer to home, grab a bite at one of the 101 best restaurants in America.