It’s a remarkable achievement that Camphors, the signature restaurant headed up by Executive Chef Michael Cooke at Vergelegen wine estate, has just earned this coveted award for the second time.
Somerset West, South Africa – Leading restaurant chefs, owners and guests are increasingly informed and discerning about appreciating and saving precious natural resources ‒ and the Eat Out Woolworths Sustainability Award is considered the gold standard for its stringent sustainability criteria.
The Award considers everything from fair labour practices at the restaurant to whether or not the chef has personally visited suppliers or attended training sessions on sustainability. The judges included Pavitray Pillay of WWF-SASSI, Sonia Mountford of EATegrity and Karen Welter of the Longtable Project. They visit each restaurant that enters and interrogate their application forms. Judges assessed three categories: responsible sourcing of ingredients, environmental impact, and community impact and the wellness of the human element
It’s a remarkable achievement then that Camphors, the signature restaurant headed up by Executive Chef Michael Cooke at Vergelegen wine estate, has just earned this coveted award for the second time. (Camphors first won in 2017.)
The flagship fine dining restaurant opened seven years ago in Somerset West, is renowned for its hyper-seasonal interpretation of locally-sourced, globally-influenced dishes. It has also just been placed 11th in the overall Eat Out Awards, named a top restaurant in the American Express Dining Awards 2020, and earned two plates in the JHP Gourmet Guide 2020.
“We take tremendous care in sourcing our products responsibly and have great relationships with our suppliers with whom we share common goals,” says Cooke.
“All of our meats and seafood are ethically-raised and locally-sourced, to ensure the best quality, to support local producers, showcase our region, and reduce energy and storage costs. And of course, we constantly discover wonderful ingredients right here on this 319-year-old estate.”
Camphors meets numerous sustainability criteria: It is self-reliant for all its water, auditing systems capture data and monitor the results of recycling, staff enjoy excellent working conditions, and the estate has paid for training in first aid, firefighting, health and safety representation, and wine and spirits education. Camphors is audited twice-yearly on its occupational health and safety policies and procedures under ISO 14001 and OHAS 18001 certification.
“We are extremely proud of Michael and the entire Camphors team,” said Vergelegen MD Don Tooth. ‘’They are totally committed to sustainability and constantly explore new ways to elevate visitors’ experiences and enjoyment of Camphors.”
Tooth said the estate has been associated with environmentally sound practices since it was acquired by Anglo American plc in 1987. Milestones have included completing South Africa’s largest privately funded alien vegetation clearing project, training previously unemployed and unskilled people, hosting scientific researchers who have published ground-breaking research, and discovering and protecting critically endangered vegetation.
Vergelegen was the first Biodiversity and Wine Initiative Champion back in 2005. This year, the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa presented Vergelegen with its 2019 corporate award, for its sustained commitment to environmental initiatives.