American Express Dining awards recognise foodies, restaurateurs

Moses Magwaza the sommelier at Restaurant Mosaic with Annerie van der Merwe.
Moses Magwaza the sommelier at Restaurant Mosaic with Annerie van der Merwe.

Foodies, chefs and restaurateurs all came together at the American Express Dining awards 2020 Reimagined in Sandton last night.

MCed by Expresso presenter Leigh-Anne Williams, the first part of the awards kicked off with bubbly, delicious bites and the occasional jokes from the judging panel - Clive Aaron, Greg Maloka and head judge Steve Steinfeld, aka The Joburg Foodie. 

The Awards are in their 21st year.  Top restaurants in the country’s northern, central and eastern provinces were recognised. Categories were introduced this year.

The top 12 restaurants in the region were:

  • Abingdon Wine Estate – KwaZulu-Natal
  • Culinary Table Restaurant – Lanseria
  • Epicure – Sandton
  • Grei at the Saxon – Saxonwold
  • Marble – Rosebank
  • NCW – Melville
  • Qunu at the Saxon – Saxonwold
  • De Oude Kraal - Bloemfontein
  • The Chef's Table - Durban
  • Restaurant Mosaic at the Orient – Pretoria

SowetanLIVE caught up with Moses Magwaza, the sommelier from Restaurant Mosaic. The eatery won in the wine category due to its extensive collection, wine service and “the finest stemware”.

“We’re very excited, I feel like everyone who came here is a winner. The SA wine industry is doing very well,” He said.

Magwaza has been with the eatery for 13 years.

He started off as a gardener at the hotel where the restaurant is located. He then became a porter and worked his way up to being a waiter. His interest in wines was piqued due to the large collection of wines at the business.

He then went on to study at the Cape Wine Academy and at WSET, a London institute that offers courses in SA.

“It’s been 10 years now as a sommelier.”

The restaurant stocks wines from all over the world, Magwaza states that their cellar is one of the biggest in Africa and now has 78096 bottles of wine and just under 7000 different labels.

“Come and enjoy the wine, it’s not easy to make everybody happy, but we’re trying as much as we can to make everybody happy and satisfied. We’re trying to cater for every palate. It’s a very difficult thing to do, but we’re trying our best.”  

The 38-year-old had these parting words: “I just want to say thank you to Diners and everybody. Everybody who came here tonight, everybody is a winner. People in the hospitality industry are some of the most hardworking people. The long hours are not child’s play. It’s very hard work, even if you were not nominated, as long as you’re in this industry I salute you.” 

David Higgs won the Pioneer Chef category while Saint and Marble won the American Express Member’s Choice category and the Pure SA category respectively.

“Overwhelmed, but it’s actually quite nice to get recognised by everyone; it can be the judges, your peers, and especially the customers which are the cardholders. They’ve gave us an award, so it’s quite diverse. We're very chuffed that we’re giving back to Joburg and we get recognised,” Said Gary Kyriacou Higg’s business partner. 

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