Expect to have to book if you want to experience fine dining locally at Zanzibar in Merimbula.
They may be one of the new kids on the block but that hasn’t stopped them from winning a coveted chef’s hat at this week’s Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide awards – less than a year after it launched under new ownership.
Zanzibar owners Huw Jones, 29, and Renée Loftus, 32, were in Sydney for the glamorous presentation ceremony – with Renée declaring she was so stunned as hope became reality with the announcement, she wanted to cry!
“We’re really overwhelmed but so excited. I’m so thrilled for my hometown, because this is really special. It’s so wonderful to receive something like this at any time, but extra special in such a short time.
“We remember when Joanna Savill [chief judge] came to Zanzibar earlier this year, and we were very nervous, but she was really lovely to deal with and very complimentary about what we are doing.
“Then when we received the invitation to the awards presentation, we certainly had our fingers crossed that we would get something, but you don’t really know – do you – until they actually make the announcement.
“When you see the calibre of the restaurants that make this list, you can’t quite believe that you’re in the same company – but we are now, officially, and that makes all the hard work worthwhile.
“We want to thank our family and friends for supporting us in making our dream with this restaurant come true, and our loyal customers for having faith in us. We hope they’ll all come in to celebrate with us.”
“We also made the editors’ favourites list in the Good Living mag and we’re pretty stoked about that!” Renee said.
Huw did his initial training at Brookvale TAFE on Sydney’s northern beaches, and spent 18 months working at the famous and highly awarded Tetsuya’s [two hats] as well as several other leading Sydney restaurants.
Renée grew up in Merimbula and has a long background in hospitality, gaining a deep knowledge of silver service and the wine industry along the way. The pair met when they were both working in the Margaret River wine region of WA.
They took over Zanzibar Café in November last year with the goal of offering fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere, and showcasing local produce from the Bega Valley and the waters of the Sapphire Coast.