For the sixth year the search is on for tomorrowâs chefs, wine stewards and bakers. The Distell Inter Hotel Challenge was launched in a series of regional training workshops, glittering gala dinners at which the limited edition, Winners All was unveiled. A fabulous window illustrating the hotel industry’s huge social commitment to our wonderful country. The Candidates of 2018 were introduced at the Beverly Hills in KwaZulu-Natal, Sun International The Maslow in Gauteng, TAJ Cape Town, and finally at The CTICC. These were red-letter events for the hospitality industry. Behind the fun of the competition and the glamour of the hotels, lies a strong mentorship programme creating a solid national base of top quality chefs, wine stewards and bakers. This in turn is playing a huge role in South Africaâs tourism industry.Â
Darryl Erasmus who heads up the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, acknowledges the very real economic need to actively support and participate in the tourism industry, particularly with job creation in the hospitality world, for the future economic wealth of the country. He points out that the State President reinforced this need in this yearâs State of the Nation address.
âEvents and programmes such as the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge, stretch our hotels and hospitality professionals to innovate, and come up with new and creative ways to continuously enhance the standards of the industry,â he says. âThis is the only way to grow our destinationâs global competitiveness.â
According to the UNWTO, the World Tourism Organisation, global tourism grew by 7% in 2017. This translates into 1,322 billion people travelling around the world. However, Africa has only managed to attract 7,8% of the market share.
âWe still have much to do,â says Erasmus. âThis unique Challenge achieves something way beyond being a fun and healthy competition between the different groups and teams.â
The launch events staged this month included training and product orientation workshops in each region. Throughout the run-up to the competition and during the actual âcook-offâ the candidates, all selected by the participating hotels to compete and represent the name of their own hotel, are mentored by top-ranking chefs, bakers and sommeliers. During the orientation held throughout March, the candidates have also enjoyed the benefit of talks, demonstrations and lectures from senior lecturers from various culinary academies and top executive chefs, sommeliers, bakers, food authors and hospitality industry experts who have already found success in South Africa and around the world. Mentorship is the key factor. Starting with the workshops, the candidates are taken through a rigorous education programme that includes food preparation and selection, plating and presentation, kitchen hygiene, nutrition and even food growing. The wine stewards were similarly introduced to the essential skills of wine and spirit selections and presentation. Outside of the food and wine subjects, the candidates were also exposed to some business basics including communication and finance.
The candidates are now in the planning, practice and preparation phase as they count down the weeks to the challenging June âcook-offsâ that will be hosted at various hotels and culinary academies around the country. The three top spots â âChef of the Yearâ, âBaker of the Yearâ and âWine Steward of the Yearâ will be announced at a gala dinner to be hosted in Cape Town on 04 August this year.
THE COMPETING HOTELS
IN GAUTENG: The Da Vinci Hotels and Suites of The Legacy Group; De Hoek Country Hotel of PMR Hospitality; The Palace of the Lost City from Sun International; there is a Tsogo Sun teamed compiled of The Sandton Sun and The Palazzo who have joined forces;Â
IN KWAZULU NATAL:Â The Beverly Hills from Tsogo Sun; the Durban International Convention Centre; the Protea Hotel by Marriott Edward; the Protea Hotel by Marriott Umhlanga Ridge; the Southern Sun Elangeni and Maharani;Â
IN THE WESTERN CAPE: the Arabella Hotel and Spa by African Pride Hotels; the Belmond Mount Nelson; Cape Grace; the Cape Town International Convention Centre; Ellerman House of Relais & ChĂąteaux; the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve; the Marriott Crystal Towers; Newmark Hotels, Lodges & Reserves; NH The Lord Charles Hotel; One&Only Cape Town; The Royal Portfolio – The Silo; there are also two combined Tsogo Sun teams, the first being the Southern Sun Cape Sun together with CBD Interior and the other team being Southern Sun The Cullinan together with the Southern Sun Waterfront; the Spier Hotel; Sun International The Table Bay; The Taj Cape Town; The 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa; The Vineyard;Â The Westin.
A formidable and highly experienced panel of judges has been lined up to judge all three categories for the competition. The regional bread judges include Marieta HumanÂ (JHB, CT & KZN),Â Manfred Reinhart (JHB), Adam Robinson (KZN) and Jac Kolver (Cape Town).Â The regional food judges are Heinz BrunnerÂ (JHB, CT & KZN),Â Marieta HumanÂ (JHB, CT & KZN),Â Manfred Reinhart (JHB),Â Kevin Gibbs (CT) and Fatima Stanley (KZN). Wine Stewards service will be judged by Sandy HarperÂ (JHB, CT & KZN)Â and Sommelier Germain LehodeyÂ (JHB, CT & KZN). The last category is Regional Food, Wine and Spirit Pairing and that will be judged by Chris de Klerk (JHB, CT & KZN), Craig Cormack (CT) and Karen Bloom (KZN).
PARTNERS OF THE CHALLENGE
Overall sponsor:Â Distell who supplied both wine and spirits throughout the entire lead-up to the cook-off and at the various events and gala dinners: N1 Restaurant Suppliers, Lancewood, Rio Largo Olive Oil, Bio-Wheat stone ground flour, Avanti Coffee, Khoisan Sea Salt and Von Geusau Chocolates.
THE PRIZES: The âChef of the Yearâ will be flown to Amsterdam to take up a three week intense mentorship experience with three top restaurants â a prize that has been rigorously created and sponsored by NH Collection. The intense and highly sought after mentorship experience includes a week in the Vermeer Restaurant under the wing of Michelin star chef Chris Naylor at the Barbizon Palace hotel, a week at the legendary culinary museum and Restaurant, DâVijff Vlieghen and finally a week at the Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky at The White Room where Jan Boerma leads the team that carries out his vision in Amsterdam; led by the young yet experienced Chef de Cuisine ArturoÂ Dalhuizen,Â MaĂźtre Richard Eerhardt and Sommelier Isabel van Bueren.
For the âWine Steward of the Yearâ Distell has created an enviable travel experience into the world of wine and spirits. On the itinerary in London, a stay at the superb The Montague on the Gardens Red Carnation and the opportunity to work with the top Sommeliers at 67 Pall Mall in the heart of St James, then travel to Scotland with visits to top Distell distilleries; Deanston and Bunnahabhain and continue on to France; Cognac and Bordeaux.Â
An enormous range of superb prizes from KitchenAid Africa; particularly to the winning âBio-Wheat Baker of the Yearâ, the legendary Artisan Mixer to the baker while their hotel will win the commercial Professional Design Mixer! In fact all winners will be treated to the finest iconic KitchenAid by Dr Susanne Reuther, who has been a stalwart supporter of the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge from inception and who does not allow one single candidate to leave the awards evening without some tangible recognition. Susanneâs support is very valuable and so much appreciated.Â
Meaningful bursaries that will be awarded at the National Winner Gala event in August have been contributed byÂ Hospitality Property Fund, Cape Wine Academy, and the South African Sommeliers Association. Awards and prizes from highly desirable ScanPan and Global Knives SA from AL&CD Ashley. Cash prizes from Avanti Coffee, books from Penguin Random House South Africa, The Platterâs Guide and Riedel Glassware.Â
What is so outstanding is that British Airways will be flying the winning Executive Chef and partner to Cape Town where they will journey for a two-night stay at remarkable Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, a unique floral and marine eco-paradise on the southern tip of Africa.Â
To raise awareness for the StreetSmart campaign this year; the raffle that will be drawn at the gala awards at the Belmond Mount Nelson includes a fabulous win from Minor Hotels. They will be presenting a prize week away for two to the stunning The Royal Livingstone Victoria Falls Zambia Hotel by Anantara with return flights kindly sponsored by British Airways.
BACKGROUND TO THE INTER HOTEL CHALLENGE and SHOWCOOK:
The Challenge has become a red-letter annual event on the hotel industry calendar. 2018 is the sixth time this event is being held. It is a unique event, being both a first in Cape Town and a first in South Africa. Its success has labeled it as the ‘Oscars of the hotel world’Â and it has been described as a defining event for the hospitality industry in South Africa. Although a competition of glitz and glamour, its true role has serious and deep-rooted repercussions in that it provides a vehicle and a public platform for creating an environment of mentorship for the countryâs hospitality industry.
Partners of Showcook.com, Annette Kesler and Chania Morritt-Smith, the high-energy organisers and founders of the Inter Hotel Challenge programme, believe the most important achievement of the annual event is that hotels are persuaded to go to great lengths to encourage and mentor young talent in an industry that plays a crucial role in the South Africaâs tourist industry.Â
âThe hotel industry is the heartbeat of tourism,â says Annette. âIt is essential that we maintain the high standards of our hospitality industry but we also have to make sure those same high standards are maintained going into the future. In order to ensure that, we need to have a strong and sustained skills and upliftment programme where our young talent is mentored and given the opportunity to grow.â
Annette and Chania believe the Inter Hotel Challenge contributes tangibly to the hotel industry itself.
âIt is a unique event where hotels become a unified force. Although the industry is highly competitive, at the end of the day they all want the same thing â to ensure a strong and viable hospitality industry to encourage and increase tourism in South Africa. Our best chance of achieving that is by doing it together.â
Prizes for the three top winners are astonishing, over the years winners have been invited to Long Beach Mauritius, Taj Mahal Palace India, the Shangri-La in Dubai, Radisson Blu Alcron in Prague and The Marriott Ritz-Carlton Hotel and JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai offering them the opportunity of working with top chefs and sommeliers in the very best of international hotels and restaurants. However, the sheer nature of the mentorship approach gives every single competing candidate an important item for their future career profiles. Many careers are forged as a result of the Inter-Hotel challenge with the best of the talent setting off on a path of career growth, either by being promoted within their current places of employment or by taking up posts in international hospitality venues or by taking on positions in South Africaâs leading hotels, safari lodges, restaurants and other hospitality outlets. Over the six years, many of the participating candidates, whether they have won or not, have made a name for themselves by working in the industry, by becoming ambassadors for the hospitality industry abroad and often by becoming authors, television personalities or leaders on social networks. Importantly, many of them have gone on to mentor their own new intake of youngsters.
The Distell Inter Hotel Challenge is in every true sense of the phrase, a programme of far-reaching business and social responsibility objectives.
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Be Creative, passionate and aware while cooking this year. Choose local ingredients wherever possible and Good quality. Khoisan is the top hand-harvested natural sea salt harvested, dried and packaged with care to enhance your cooking as well as to be used around the kitchen and bathrooms. We wish you a peaceful and prosperous year.
To put it simply, this was a spectacular event with a brilliant turnout. Khoisan Salt was very well represented on some tables and was used by the kitchen when preparing the food. The Food was well presented and tasted delicious.Well done to all candidates who took part as inÂ our eyes they all did a fantastic job.
This was a very successful Day full of Â inspiration and learning new things from experienced chefs ( Chef Kyle Hickman, One & Only(Pastry), Chef Togara Mabharani, Belmond Mount Nelson(demystifying the making of bread & initial mixing) Chef Franck Dangereux, The Foodbarn(French Cuisine using local ingredients) Chef Constantjin, Hatford House, Cooking Trout and chips. This was all rounded off with Christp Pretorius from the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa.
Khoisan flakes and fine cooking salt was used to enhance all fine foods presented and was delicious in the tasty Soup and wonderful bread we all had for lunch. Thank you Annette and Chania for organising this as well as to One & Only Hotel for hosting the event.
South Africa, Cape Town; THIS year the One&Only Reaching for Young Stars culinary competition has reached a five-year milestone.
Now in its fifth consecutive year, the One&Only Reaching for Young Stars competition has solidified its reputation as the top culinary event for student chefs and wine stewards in South Africa. One&Only Cape Town not only hosts the competition, with the resortâs kitchens hotting up with creative dishes being prepared by rising stars, but also hosts the much-awaited prize-giving ceremony. One&Only Cape Town General Manager Richard Lyon is duly proud of the resortâs involvement in this competition: “One&Only Cape Town is committed to service excellence and training. This competition only means good things for the hospitality industry, and we are delighted to support these young aspirant chefs and wine stewards in their endeavours.”
Organised by Showcook.comâs Annette Kesler and Chania Morritt-Smith, true champions of furthering the talent of the local hospitality industry, the competition saw talented student chefs vying for the coveted trophy. Kesler elaborates: âThe One&Only Reaching for Young Stars is a competition that is designed for young hospitality trainees that is both empowering and inspirational: it boasts top judges; it provides a platform to showcase terrific talent, highlighting the foundation the students receive at these excellent innovative culinary academies. It really is a showcase for what creativity and sheer hard work will achieve, and is a meaningful way to promote our homegrown hospitality industry.â Richard Lyon remarks that Annette Keslerâs hard work and passion for this competition makes it a true success.
MEET THE CONTESTANTS
Twelve chef students entered in duo teams from six hospitality schools. These duos were partnered with six wine steward entrants and then paired with individual wine estates. The aspirant chefs and wine stewards were invited to visit their estates to do wine tastings, learn from winemakers and gain valuable experience of hospitality on a working wine farm. Introducing this yearâs entrants:
Cape Town Hotel School & Villiera
Duo of Chefs: Modeli Kruger & Mathabo Raselo
Wine Steward: ChanĂ© Van Zyl
The Hurst Campus & Oldenburg Vineyards
Duo of Chefs: JandrĂ© Swart & Frikkie Janse van Rensburg,
Wine Steward: Nicole Van Zyl
International Hotel School & Stellar Organics
Duo of Chefs: Nicholas Oliphant & Rossouw Koen
Wine Steward: Micaela Newton
The Private Hotel School & Anthonij Rupert Wyne
Duo of Chefs: Carmen Eksteen & Peter Duncan
Wine Steward: Kudzie Mushure
Silwood School Of Cookery & Fleur Du Cap
Duo of Chefs: Hayley New & CharnĂ© Sampson
Wine Steward: Jason Geduld (Cape Town Hotel School)
South African Chefs Academy & Durbanville Hills
Duo of Chefs: Hannah Staddon & James Wright
Wine Steward: Paballo Lilly Lebeli (Cape Town Hotel School)
After rigorous days of workshops, tastings and expert lectures from partners SAPPO (South African Pork Producersâ Organisation), Lancewood, Rio Largo Olive oil, Khoisan Sea Salt and an orientation session at the One&Only kitchens, the contestants had to devise their menus and refine them in time for the judging day that took place at One&Only Cape Town on 15 September.
Nine top culinary judges conducted a blind tasting on the day. Reuben Riffel (chief judge), David van Staden, Floris Smith, Aubrey Ngcungama, Alan Romburgh, Jerome Peters, Luvo Ntezo, John Jackson, Marieta Human and Penelope Horwood tasted their way through six three-course menus that showcased South African pork in the main dish as well as Lancewood cheeses in innovative and delicious ways. All dishes were expertly paired with wine from partnered estates. Chief judge Reuben Riffel notes: “I’ve seen a distinct improvement over the past five years of this competition in both the quality and presentation of the dishes that students are delivering.â It is clear that One&Only Reaching for Young Stars competition is the premier platform for creating South African hospitality ambassadors.
This is occurring on the 10th and 11th of June at the SA Chefs Academy. Cape Town have 13 Hotels competing who have chosen the most promising and enthusiastic young Chefs. Check out our Facebook and Twitter for more Photos.
âTalent, creativity, skill and enthusiasm is what they will be bringing to their menu,â says Annette Kesler, Editor Showcook.com.âIn addition we will strive to inculcate the use of excellent and pure ingredients, which we hope will become part of their food philosophy.â Annette particularly praises Khoisan as being an excellent and tasty natural sea salt.