The judges for the 2023 Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards have just been revealed

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The judges for the 2023 Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards have just been revealed

Want to know who’s got the best job in SA right now? It’s these six food experts!

The Eat Out Woolworths Restaurant Awards are kicking off! The rigorous six-month-long selection process has begun and this year’s panel of judges has just been announced.

In 2023, Woolworths returns as a partner and headline sponsor. Woolworths’ commitment to quality ingredients and sustainability aligns beautifully with what the Eat Out awards stand for.

These are the people who will assess the nation’s restaurants and decide which establishments will be awarded one, two or three stars at the ceremony in November this year.


Abigail is the food director of TASTE magazine. In 2006, she joined Eat Out as editor and chief judge. Her food writing has been recognised with multiple Galliova awards.

Abigail says, “I am so excited to work alongside and be inspired by the 2023 judging panel, and I look forward to discovering new restaurants around South Africa, as well as eating at established ones that are elevating standards around the country. I also hope to give diners a good understanding of how restaurants strive for excellence.”



Joseph Tongai Dhafana is a sommelier, wine judge and founder of Mosi Wines and Spirits.

“This role is both humbling and incredible,” says Joseph. “I have longed to participate, not for fun, but because it’s demanding and challenging. I enjoy dining in various establishments and brainstorming with experienced judges, which is similar to my expertise in judging wine. Analytical thinking, without personal preference, is crucial. I enjoy exploring a dish’s concept, taste and technique. I am committed to delivering a fair judgment without fear or favour.”


Marisa Munroe works at Woolies alongside a diverse team of creative, dynamic chefs and product developers. With 20 years of experience in product development under her belt, she’s attended food, flavour and trends seminars all over the world. But her latest adventure is one she’s particularly excited about.

“Being an Eat Out judge for 2023 is an enormous honour. I can’t wait to explore the local restaurant scene. Being a judge means I get to witness the heart and soul of a chef and experience their unique combination of skills, imagination and nature’s bounty.”



Mokgadi Itsweng is an accomplished chef, food activist and author. With more than 17 years of experience in the food industry, she has been a prominent voice in food media, sharing her knowledge and passion for healthy, sustainable eating.

“I love food and dining at restaurants is one way I get to travel with my palate and experience different chefs’ food journeys,” says Mokgadi. “Being a judge means I get to explore our beautiful country with its diverse culture and taste what South Africans are eating. I get to represent the ordinary South African who loves food and is always looking for a memorable experience, which offers both satisfaction and excellent value. I love seeing what the chefs have been up to creatively, and whether there is a consciousness around ingredients, plant-based food, sourcing, sustainability and indigenous food.”


At just 22 years old, Herman landed the role of food editor at SARIE magazine, where he quickly made a name for himself with his innovative recipes and bold flavour combinations. Herman went on to become the editor of SARIE KOS, and has since published several standalone cookbook magazines under his own name.

Herman says: “I love to eat, it’s what makes me smile. I love South Africa and there is no place in the world that offers such a diverse food landscape. We have some of the world’s best chefs and restaurants. Being part of this year’s Eat Out judging panel is a huge honour and a job that I take seriously. I am looking forward to eating food that tells a story of sustainability, shows proud use of South African ingredients, and that makes me smile with every bite. I can’t wait to taste the many dishes that restaurants produce across South Africa.”


Karen Dudley is a chef, author and food entrepreneur. In 1999, she opened The Kitchen in Woodstock, Cape Town, a catering company that quickly gained a reputation for its delicious, home-style cooking, and which soon expanded to include a café.

Karen has appeared on CNN and TEDx, and has been featured in The New York Times and The Guardian. She has also been a guest judge on many reality cooking shows in South Africa and is a familiar face on national TV channels.


For more information, visit Eat Out.

Katharine Pope Article by: Katharine Pope

TASTE's head of digital content is an adventurous, if somewhat haphazard cook. Her favourite recipes are all either cake, curry, or risotto, and she is an expert at hiding vegetables in unexpected places, to outwit her veg-hating toddler and husband.

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