7 finalists in the inaugural Shisa Nyama Awards

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Shisa nyama has become synonymous with authentic food, friends, family and good times. And, of course, loads and loads of flame-grilled meat. The Shisa Nyama Awards were created in recognition of the value of this South African cultural phenomenon.

The judging process kicked off on 1 July in Durban, when an epic epicurean team of six judges comprising editors, food critics and renowned restauranteurs visited 25 of the city's hottest venues.

A culinary award with a difference and the only body of their kind in South Africa, the Shisa Nyama Awards recognise and reward excellence in food, service, venue and ambience. The Awards also aims to drive business to the outlets and to stimulate township tourism in a real, more engaging way.

It's about celebrating and growing small businesses – the more establishments like these thrive, the greater the impact on their communities and the economy.

Says founder Michelle Lewis, “I wanted to tell the world about the true entrepreneurs in our society – like these shisa nyama owners – many of whom started out from humble beginnings and now command the attention of our country's largest brands. I also crucially wanted to highlight the chefs behind the scenes who create delicious food for millions of South Africans each day but who are largely unknown.”

Durban's top seven venues were selected through the gruelling judging process (which, let's face it, involved eating loads of flame-grilled meat) and ranked according to a 50-point scoring system. These are:

Cafe Skyzer, Mayville

Eyadine Lounge, Umlazi      

Max's Lifestyle, Umlazi

One and Only, KwaMashu

Sbu's Lounge, Inanda

Tate's Kasi Grill, Clermont 
Under The Moon, Inanda

The good news for the public is that all of these establishments guarantee a full belly, great vibes and maximum customer satisfaction. The great news for the public is that the winner among these will be announced at a Shisa Nyama Festival on Heritage Day, Sunday 25 September, at People's Park, Moses Mabhida Stadium, in Durban. Because if there's one thing South Africans love to do more than eat loads of flame-grilled meat, it's to party.

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