Wolfgat seats just 20 diners in a tiny cottage in a fishing village more than two hours’ drive from Cape Town.

And it is the most exciting place on the planet to eat. Good luck getting a table.

Booking opens a maximum of three months in advance. But no tables are available.

The World Restaurant Awards this week handed the top accolade—Restaurant of the Year—to chef Kobus van der Merwe, who opened Wolfgat in his parents’ 130-year-old property in September 2016. He traveled to Paris from Paternoster (pop. 1,971) in the Western Cape without even knowing he’d won. Now he is already having to try to reckon how to handle the sudden acclaim.

“I’m incredibly proud of my team,” he said in an interview. “They have no formal food background and now they are recognized on a world stage.”

What is so special about Wolfgat? Well, Van der Merwe works with a tiny team of local people who go foraging together, cook together and serve together. They even do the washing up together. There are just six of them in total, and they learned on the job.

“We don’t have a distinction between front of house and the kitchen,” he says. “We serve a small tasting menu of seafood enhanced by seasonal wild herbs and succulents and seaweed that we pick around the village.”

Guests must give a day’s notice they are coming, and then the team picks sufficient ingredients to serve that number. There’s no waste. Van der Merwe sometimes will try to squeeze in 24 diners.

The cost? It’s 850 rand ($60), which would barely buy you a starter in the gastronomic temples of Paris.

Van der Merwe was born in the Northern Cape and went to culinary school in Stellenbosch, where he grew up. He didn’t want to be a chef.

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