The 2012 reviewing season has raced by, and soon we’ll be building the hype for the 2012 awards. We’ve had some new reviewers on the team this year, as well as some of those well-seasoned, and whether old or new, they have been a relatively unforgiving lot! That said, we’ve continued to see excellence, and Five Plate Ratings, nationwide.
By Rosie Mitchell
In any contest, it is always good to see new faces excelling, and so it has been with Zoap. We have a number of brand new finalists for the 2012 awards. Conversely, several previous, in some cases, several-time finalists and award winners, have dropped to a Four Plate Rating, an occurrence which continues to devastate entrants regardless of the fact that Four Plates is still very good. We fully expect they will go all out to win their hallowed Five Plates back in 2013.
Competition both in the trade itself, and in the Zim on a Plate competition, continues to be brutal, as attested by the comings and goings and re-incarnations and re-inventions of restaurants across the country, struggling to get and then keep the admiration and loyalty of a public which is as unforgiving as our review team. This should not be surprising — that team is drawn from the same public that the restaurateurs try so hard to please, knowing full well, that you cannot please all the people all the time!
Very pleasing indeed, is the number of nominees which has accumulated for the Service Personality of the Year Award, introduced in 2010 to enable Zoapto honour and applaud the oft-unsung heroes and heroines in any restaurant, the waiters and waitresses, barmen and wine waiters, front desk managers and maître d’s and hosts and hostesses, who are so crucial to an establishment’s success. Already, that honours list runs to 25 names, and with three weeks to go till 2013, we may yet find our reviewers adding more.
To these outstanding men and women who so pleased reviewers with their acumen in the delicate art of making patrons feel really special, while not suffocating them with attention, that they named them for this award whether on the reviewing job or off; warm congratulations and keep up the great work, you are a credit to your trade!
A quick glimpse at the Restaurant Guide will show you who is on the honours list, as a finalist for a 2012 award. No less than seven Deluxe restaurants so far (with one review outstanding) have pipped a Five Plate Rating, so this will, as usual, be the most difficult tasks for the judging panel early next year; Coach House, Inn on Rupurara, La Fontaine, L’Ô de Vie, The Boma, The Palm (last year’s winner) and Victoria 22.
Livingstone Room’s review will shortly be published but we’ll leave you guessing about whether they join the finalist list. Deluxe Family Restaurant finalists are Alo Alo, now in its new location near Arundel Village, and White Horse Inn in the Bvumba, both of whom have won this award before.
Family Restaurant Finalists see a new contender in the form of the long established Adrienne’s, which is pitted against multiple award winner Leonardo’s. Vying for Pub Restaurant of the Year are Maiden Public House and O’ Hagan’s which won it last year. The Speciality section sees multiple contenders again, with newcomers to the Finalist list, the recently opened Butcher’s Kitchen, Da Eros, Mojo’s and The Sitar pitched against previous winners Dehli Palace and The Shop Cafe (The Jaipur awaits its new premises next year but remains in the Guide on request).
Deluxe Coffee Shop also sees new finalists — new entrant The Blue Bird Cafe, also the first entrant ever from Masvingo, and The Antique Rose, against last-year Finalist, Stanley’s Terrace. With just one review to come, there are so far four Finalist Coffee Shops — Spring Fever, Plot Cafe, three-time winner Tony’s, and second-time finalist Vanilla Moon. There is much to keep competition followers and entrants guessing here, with many new names vying for awards.
Zoap, which exists to champion the trade and seeks to assist its hard working members in both attaining and then maintaining highest standards, with its four proud sponsors wishes all entrants, the dining public who enjoy their fare, and all Zimbabweans, a peaceful Christmas and prosperous New Year.
How the zoap competition started
Zoap in its current form enters its eighth year in 2013, while the original Restaurants of the Year Competition was founded back in 2003 by The Cheeseman, which approached The Standard with the idea of a national contest aimed at maintaining high standards in a trade the company supplies with many of its ingredients.
The Standard has been publishing the reviews and carrying the supporting advertising which is paid for by the sponsors, ever since.
Thereafter, all reviews can be accessed on The Cheeseman’s website.
The competition has a keen following from those among the public who love to dine out. Founder The Cheeseman was in 2011 joined by three co-sponsors to assist with the considerable costs of running the competition and awards ceremony; African Distillers (also a co-sponsor in 2007), Lake Harvest and Mahatma Rice, all of whom also supply the trade.