Grace and peace to you
Nathanael said to Phillip, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” [John 1:46]
I was thinking of Nathanael’s question when I read last week about a tiny beach restaurant in Paternoster. And I thought: Can anything good come out of Paternoster? Well apparently so, because Wolfgat restaurant was named Restaurant of the Year as well as top Off-Map Destination at the recent inaugural World Restaurant Awards, held in Paris, France.
Now besides the fact that I am allergic to fish and would only be found dead in a fish restaurant, the truth is that fancy food is totally lost on me. And I mean totally – pass the peanut butter please. Therefore I wouldn’t have a clue whether Wolfgat restaurant was a worthy winner based on the taste and presentation of their food or not. But what I am sure of is how worthy they are of the prize for a whole host of other reasons. Reasons I find extremely nourishing and much needed in our world today.
I believe the inspirational owner and Chef, Kobus van der Merwe, must make Jesus smile. Besides the obvious reason that Jesus was known to hang out on beaches in tiny fishing villages, I think Jesus would smile as a result of the beautiful life-giving choices that knit together Wolfgat behind and before. Here are a few:
- Jesus was always big into small. Wolfgat is small. Deliberately small. 24 people max. (Two groups of 12 he! he!). Small is beautiful. Small is blessed. Small can change the world. As Margaret Mead remind us: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
- Jesus chose locals without any formal theological training to be his disciples – and to be the bearers of good news about a loving, caring, gentle, kind and just God. They knew about fish and Jesus said he would teach them about people. Similarly the six (half of 12 he! he!) female staff have no formal culinary training but yet in just a few years have shown expert abilities and skill. To see the potential in people that others were blind to is Christ-like.
- Jesus said to his disciples “I do not call you servants but friends”. At Wolfgat there are great attempts to flatten the hierarchy and to level the leadership. All do everything. Every person is gift. Every person is treasured.
- Jesus attentively foraged his natural surroundings for sermon illustrations on a daily basis: the beauty of the lilies, the weeds and wheat growing side by side, fig trees and mustard seeds. Similarly, at Wolfgat they forage every day for seaweed, mussels and sea vegetables on the wild Atlantic shore of the Western Cape. Radically local and purposefully incarnational.
- Jesus was not into banting (Sorry Tim.). He loved bread and he kept breaking and sharing bread with everyone. At Wolfgat they make their own bread and butter. Wolfgat is also the bread and butter for its team who live in a highly unequal community where poverty is rife despite the paradise-like surroundings. I am going to ask them one day if I can bring my peanut butter to try out their bread and I have reason to believe that it would make Jesus smile – so I am hopeful.
With gratitude for those who follow Jesus in tasteful ways and who live the Gospel without words,