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Talent, creativity, skill and enthusiasm are what our Candidate Chefs and Candidate Wine Stewards from 21 hotels nationwide brought to the regional cook-offs in June. These seminal events took place in Johannesburg at HTA School of Culinary Art with Stephen Billingham, in KwaZulu-Natal The International Hotel School with Dean Carolyn McDougall and Managing Principal Genée Griffiths and Paul Hartmann’s South African Chefs Academy in Cape Town.


Early morning through to late afternoon the academies were a hive of activity. In the kitchens, where confident candidates were put through their paces under the watchful eye of the kitchen judges, the steam was rising and the aromas were splendid. Complete quiet besides chopping, whizzing and sizzling - the only sounds that you heard! Executive Chefs and Sommeliers were gathered outside the crucial area drinking copious cups of coffee to sustain them during this fraught, tense period.


In May our fledgling Wine Stewards had a memorable ‘Grape to Glass’ experience with their partner winemaker at the Cape Legends fine historic estates in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Durbanville. This was a time to forge relationships between the cellarmasters, winemakers and our students of wine, sharing their knowledge and passion. 




Candidate Chef Hamilton Moyo & Candidate Wine Steward Prince Mabena



Piquant Tuna Tartar served with avocado purée in lemon grass tea sprinkled with pickled beetroot and pea shoots. The perfect partner, Neethlingshof Chardonnay


Delectable Chocolate Fondant served with delicate coconut crème anglaise and lime syrup with pretty berries. Wine Steward Prince Mabena selected ever popular Neethlingshof Noble Late Harvest, The Maria 


There is an art to designing a balanced menu, describing dishes precisely, exciting both the palate and the imagination using choice ingredients. For the Cape Legends Inter Hotel Challenge using premium pork in myriad ways, Rio Largo Olive Oil and Khoisan Sea Salt.


Candidate Chef Nhlanhla Msibi
Candidate Wine Steward Newman Sigoga

Chef Nhlanhla Msibi chose to prepare versatile pork in three ways; pan-fried loin, cheek croquette, cola braised belly which he served with fondant potatoes, cauliflower, apple purée and pea espuma with astro vegetables topped with crackling paired with Lomond Cat’s Tail Syrah 2011. 


The finale was a dessert of lemon tart, caramelised fresh figs served with granadilla and white chocolate with finely chopped pistachio complemented by Lomond Sugarbush Sauvignon Blanc 2013.



 The skill and palate to season exquisitely is a special gift, however using good natural sea salt, fresh herbs and excellent quality olive oil can assist in coaxing out flavour and in some cases assist in setting the colour when you begin by blanching vegetables in salted, rapidly boiling water and refresh with cold, which sets the colour. 







Candidate Chef Londiwe Mseleku 
Candidate Wine Steward Ruhan Duvenage


Candidate Chef Londiwe Mseleku with Marieta Human (Nutritionist and Judge representing the South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (SAPPO) & Head Judge Paul Hartmann of the South African Chefs Academy (SACA)   

Chef Londiwe wrapped her pork fillet in prosciutto, teamed with roast pork loin topped with crackling and served creamed potato, a fresh pea purée with lightly sautéed courgettes, baby carrots and jus. A marriage made in heaven with Wine Steward Ruhan Duvenage’s choice Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Merlot

The dessert was a fine chocolate orange tart with citrus salsa and a frozen ginger infused white chocolate foam. Ruhan paired this delightful dessert with Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Semillon.


The vital team! Our judging panel in Johannesburg; award-winning Sommelier and Cape Wine Master Germain Lehodey, Chris de Klerk of Cape Legends, Kristina Beuthner Principal, Cape Wine Academy and Marilyn Cooper, former principal of the Cape Wine Academy and currently organiser of the Soweto Wine Festival


This year the Cape Wine Academy (CWA), headed by Managing Director Michelle Grimbeek, is donating in excess of R35 000 across the board to the winning wine stewards - To be announced on Friday, 25th July at the celebratory black tie dinner at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel.   



Candidate Wine Stewards Prince Mabena (Southern Sun Hyde Park), Vusi Nkuna (Radisson Blu Gautrain) and Maxwell Nyathi (54 on Bath)   


Stephen Billingham’s HTA School of Culinary Art- home to a large, spacious campus in Randburg with state of the art kitchens where immaculately clad fledgling students are introduced to a world of culinary excellence.  

The preparation time was four hours (no mystery baskets:) the candidates had free reign and time during the months leading upto the cook-off in which to plan carefully and creatively, matching their dishes with appropriate wines. 


At any culinary competition taste is paramount," explained Paul Hartmann of the South African Chefs Academy (SACA) on behalf of the judges. " What we looked for were well-balanced dishes, excellent flavour combinations perfectly seasoned and presented with proper attention to detail.” 



Candidate Chef Lutendo Funyufunyu
Candidate Wine Steward Maxwell Nyathi


Pristine presentation of pork neck, fillet and tongue served with cabbage, rooibos and quince.  Durbanville Hills Rhinofields Chardonnay 2011


54 on Bath General Manager Jacques Moolman chatting with Cape Grace Food & Beverage Manager Michael Liffmann and Executive Chef Malika van Reenen whose winning Chef of 2013, Gert Böcking is jetting off to Mauritius’s stunning hotels; Long Beach and Le Touessrok part of the World Leisure Holidays for a three week learning curve in all their excellent restaurants where he will have the opportunity of working in Japanese, Italian, Creole, Chinese and Indian style restaurants. A vist warmly welcomed by Mauritian Tourism 


54 on Bath and Beverly Hills both won best regional bread entries in JHB & KZN respectively. 


"I believe bread is the first sign of hospitality and that both hotels and restaurants should strive to serve bread and rolls that they are proud of. Whether it be wholewheat (always a fabulous introduction to South African culinary specialities), a sourdough or any other desirable variation," says Annette Kesler, Editor "Serve with real butter, chilled!"




(Left to right) Brenda Wilkinson of Rio Largo Olive Oil, Jacqui January of RSG Radio Sonder Grense chatting with Jose Vilandy of Truth Coffee. Susan Reynard of Hotel & Restaurant.



Thoughtful judges deliberating…

(Left to right) Heinz Brunner (Honorary Lifetime President of the South African Chefs Association and past Vice-Chairman of the World Body of Chefs, currently training the SA Culinary Olympic Team, Cape Wine Masters Chris de Klerk (Cape Legends) and Kristina Beuthner (CWA).

Wine Steward Vusi Nkuna
 of Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel explains the finer points of his choice of wines in the range of Plaisir de Merle. 


"Our Candidate Wine Stewards competed to a high standard. The competition between the three cities was tough," says Chris de Klerk of Cape Legends. "The competitors had strong personalities and showed excellent interaction. For these wine stewards this competition allowed scope to succeed and be a vision for future careers." 


All the prizes awarded will be those of a practical nature and educative going forward. Higgo Jacobs of the South African Sommeliers Association (SASA) will be presenting an additional award for the ‘Most Up & Coming Wine Steward’.




Candidate Chef Zwelithini Tshuma
Candidate Wine Steward Vusi Nkuna



Getting together! 54 on Bath Executive Sous Chef Phil de Villiers with his Executive Chef Gerard Vingerling and Radisson Blu Executive Assistant Manager Alice Jensen Radisson Blu Gautrain with Executive Chef Stuart Cason. The happy association between competing teams was a real joy to see during the trials.


Braised pork belly was the choice of Chef Zwelithini Tshuma, cleverly designed around roast fillet, lentil pork cheek ragout, sweet corn, apple, carrot & orange purée served with braised baby vegetables and bok choi. Sumptuously paired with Plaisir de Merle Malbec 2010.

Using seasonal fruit Chef Zwelithini Tshuma served poached apple, apple cloud with sliced strawberries, toasted almonds, complemented by a delicate white chocolate mousse and vanilla meringue. Celebrated with Plaisir de Merle Grand Brut 2010!

Knowlegeable and meticulous judges Fatima Stanley, City & Guilds External Verifier with IHS Culinary Arts Lecturer Casey Wigmore. Our gold standard partners that have a passion for quality, whether it be for perfection of design or for purity of ingredients with no compromise. 

Travelling to KwaZulu-Natal, a favourite holiday destination, here we joined The International Hotel School where the Durban leg of the Cook-Off was held, Thursday 5th June. 


Durban is the main, large campus for The International Hotel School. Currently they have a campus both in Gauteng and Cape Town and are forging ahead in producing graduates that are capable of entering into the hospitality industry with confidence. 

All for one and one for all! Executive Chefs of note; (left to right) Tony Kocke (Beverly Hills), Shaun Munro (Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani) and Kevin Joseph (The Oyster Box). David Goette (Hilton Durban) with Belinda McLaughlin of Cape Legends. 




Candidate Chef Linda Malefo 
Candidate Wine Steward Anthony Andrew Govender (Jeremiah)


Chef Linda prepared his starter of Norwegian Salmon on a bed of citrus and seasonal vegetables. Followed by loin of pork with crisp crackling served with choice hand turned vegetables and a delectable piquant cherry sauce. Jeremiah paired his menu thoughtfully with Lomond wines including the complex rich and fruity Syrah.





 Candidate Wine Steward Andya Vukelic
Candidate Chef Noel Kanyemba


Carolyn McDougall (Dean, The International Hotel School)

Candidate Chef Noel Kanyemba and Assistant Chef Goo Imthawin prepared a starter of carrot marshmallow with ricotta cheese, strawberry and cucumber brunoise while Candidate Wine Steward Andya Vukelic selected the Durbanville Hills Rhinofields Chardonnay 2011 to complement this dish. 


Wine Steward Andya Vukelic selected the Durbanville Hills Rhinofields Pinotage 2012 to pair with Chef Noel’s main course of pork, which was devised in three ways using pork belly, marinated rib eye fillets and pork croquettes. A stunning presentation. 

Durban with its vibrant cross cultures and a cuisine to match,
is an exotic treat! 



Candidate Chef Sibongile Dlamini 
Candidate Wine Steward Tafadzwa Dube


Wine Steward Tafadzwa Dube partnered Neethlingshof 6 Flowers with Chef Sibongile Dlamini’s full flavoured lobster bisque where she introduced a South African icon tea, rooibos, to smoke her Wayfarers trout, adding garden pea purée and a touch of pear - a fruitful partnership! 



Candidate Chef Nthabiseng Khuluse
Candidate Wine Steward Siyanda Mthembu



Chef Nthabiseng with Executive Chef Dean Uren
A luscious passion fruit and vanilla cheese cake, rich and delicious with an olive oil citrus salad paired well with Siyanda’s wine choice, Zonnebloem 2012 Chardonnay.





Zimbali’s stunning main course; Pork cheek pithivier accompanied by a delicate parsnip and carrot purée, pork crackling, caramelized green apple and a shard of crisp streaky pancetta. Wine Steward Siyanda did an interesting wine pairing with Zonnebloem 2012 Pinotage.







(Tsogo Sun)

Candidate Chef Thokozani Mpungose 
Candidate Wine Steward Sandile Masango


Chef Thokozani with his Assistant Chef Kimberley Pillay plating their deluxe duo - a tower of colourful and flavourful bands; smoked salmon, avocado, horseradish mousse and ripe tomato en gelée. Wine Steward Sandile Masango (Casper:) complemented this starter with Fleur du Cap Semillon 2012

Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani Executive Chef Shaun Munro and Judge Wolfgang Leyrer.
Chef Thokzani 
Mpungose with Marieta Human (Nutritionist, Judge representing SAPPO)

Chef Thokozani prepared a superb loin of pork, perfectly cooked wrapped in bacon with a mushroom duxelle and a variation of pear William using mealie pap. Casper chose an unfiltered Fleur du cap Merlot 2011 to accompany.


Do see Part Two - Cape Town Regional Cook-Off




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