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HARTFORD HOUSE 
THE GEM OF THE MIDLANDS

 

 Over many years, glorious Hartford has
become known nationally and internationally
for warm hospitality and a superlative table,
all contributing to a memorable stay in the
exquisite green heartland of Natal -
the enchanting setting for our regional launch of
the Cape Legends & Artisan Spirit
Inter Hotel Challenge
hosted by Mick and Cheryl Goss. 

A superb welcome dinner took place on an
early autumnal midweek evening preceding the
launch lunch. The slender candlelit table was
dressed in rich cream damask, the perfect
setting for Chef Constantijn Hahndiek’s
creative and sumptuous menu!

 

 

The Cape Legends & Artisan Spirits Inter Hotel Challenge provides the opportunity and inspiration for the most talented and creative trainees giving them goals and the possibility of achieving success not only in South Africa, but internationally to become ambassadors for our hospitality industry. We are delighted that top hotels in South Africa have given this initiative their wholehearted support. This is the ideal time to thank Distell for their vision and continued participation in the Challenge allowing for mentorship and the growing of skills across the board, which in turn has given great encouragement and recognition to the candidates. 

Chilled glasses of Pongrácz greeted the guests on arrival with moreish canapés.

 A sumptuous starter, robust terrine of leeks and roasted bell pepper in herb infused Lancewood cream cheese surrounded with essence of bell peppers and Rio Largo olive oil presented by Tony Kocke, Executive Chef of the iconic Beverly Hills, which paired deliciously with Fleur du Cap Unfiltered Sauvignon Blanc. 

 

The School of Excellence with a captivating view over Summer Hill was the setting for the launch lunch where the collaborative menus were presented by Executive Chefs; Tony Kocke (Beverly Hills), John Moatshe (Durban International Convention Centre), Constantijn Hahndiek (Hartford House), Stanley Skosana (Protea Hotel by Marriott Durban Edward) and Shaun Munro (Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani). 

(Left) Executive Chef Tony Kocke introduces us to his candidates; Nomonde Dlamini and Eugene Ramcharan who are looking forward to meeting cellarmaster Martin Moore of Durbanville Hills and to learning more about Bisquit Dubouche et Cie which was founded in 1819 in the heart of France by Alexandre Bisquit and became official supplier of His Majesty King George VI of England. A smooth and subtle cognac inherently aromatic. Our winner will be visiting Bisquit, certainly one of the great cognac producing estates of France. 

 

(Right) Durbanville Hills Rhinofields Chardonnay was served chilled with delightful hints of pineapple and spicy oak coming through on the palette. A core feature of Durbanville Hills is consistency of quality in large volumes. The winery is a fine collaboration between farmers of Durbanville their farm employees and Distell. As a social investment Durbanville Hills uses wine and olive revenues to fund many outreach and lifeskills programmes. 

 

Nomonde Dlamini’s face lit up with the mention of conversation on wine. She has a natural talent for wine pairing and a huge appetite for learning. With her effervescent personality she has built up superb relationships with guests and, even better, remembers their names. She is motivated disciplined and a great team player with a strong work ethic. She believes she has found her calling in wines and this has become her chosen career.

 

Eugene Ramcharan enjoys cooking simple well flavoured dishes and is particularly drawn to the Italian kitchen. His goal is to one day own his own intimate bistro. The love of food and cooking stems from an early age from his mother and grandmother. Besides helping with daily preparation of meals, his school holidays were often spent experimenting with recipes and dishes. 

 

Tantalising canapés on arrival. (Top right) ‘A Chilled Classic’ Vichyssoise with lemon peppered salmon tartare and dill scented Rio Largo olive oil presented by Shaun Munro, Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani, which paired well with Durbanville Hills Rhinofields Chardonnay. Later, desserts including a luscious chocolate torte marquise served with citrus salad and brandy snaps presented by Stanley Skosana of The Protea Hotel by Marriott Durban Edward (Right) Salted Caramel Cheesecake accompanied by chocolate orange truffles served with amaretto sabayon, presented by John Moatshe, Durban ICC 

 

We are fortunate at this time to have strong leadership at the helm of the South African hotel sector, known worldwide for professionalism. What the hotels do is educate and train, in addition they have admirable social responsibilities that collectively bring enormous benefits not only to their employees and their families, but also to local communities. Their great contribution towards building a better South Africa will be unveiled in Winners All, a superb book that is being published by the book division of Media 24 to celebrate the fifth year of the Cape Legends & Artisan Spirits Inter Hotel Challenge. 

(Left to right) Annette Kesler and Mick Goss, Deon Delport (Editor Independent on Saturday) and Cheryl Goss

 

Each year we travel the length and breadth of the country meeting new candidates and introducing and outlining the competition. During this period we held four outstanding regional events to launch the 2017 Challenge; three delightful lunches and one elegant diner; The Palace of the Lost City Hotel in Sun City, Hartford House in the Midlands, NH The Lord Charles in Somerset West and The Vineyard in the heart of Claremont. The menus were a huge collaborative effort by all the Executive Chefs accompanied by a superb choice of wines and fine artisan spirits from our admirable partner Distell who has among the finest and most historic wine estates in the Cape.

 

We were privileged on these occasions to have extremely fine guest speakers including our Minister of South African Tourism Tokozile Xasa who offers huge support for this initiative, embracing the importance of growing skills in the industry. As she explained, “The hospitality industry is the vital centre of tourism, which today is one of SA’s most thriving assets.” 

 

Mick Goss of Hartford House spoke about positive energy, surmounting obstacles and shining through. "Never dwell on negativity rather strongly forge the path ahead."

 

Mike Jackson (Director of Operations KwaZulu Natal, Tsogo Sun) on the development of young hospitality candidates. One of the areas that he touched on was the shortage of skilled confectioners. Mike Jackson said, "This is an area that up and coming young chefs should give serious thought to. Either go in that direction or take advantage of every opportunity during your training." 

 

(Left) Tender and delicious Wagyu Beef canapé Allesverloren Shiraz was paired superbly with the main course presented by Constantijn Hahndiek - ‘Angus on the Cob’, smoked lard poached brisket, knuckle pithivier and chakka lakka textures. (Right) Superb handmade Von Geusau chocolates were a parting gift cleverly created by Richard von Geusau of Elgin reflecting our wonderful floral kingdom, the theme for this year’s unparalleled display of table settings for our celebratory awards dinner. Each hotel has the choice of entering one of three categories; the table that most reflects the ethos of the hotel, the table you would most wish to dine at and the most glamorous!

 

On the wine side there is tremendous growth with superb tuition from The Cape Wine Academy and The South African Sommeliers Association. Pushing the boundaries, introducing a more in-depth wine appreciation, taking into consideration the students’ capabilities, ultimately preparing them for a satisfying career. Instilling and encouraging a love and understanding of wine culture, which has in turn produced some fine sommeliers, wine stewards and knowledgeable waiters. For them we hope that this will become a commitment to a lifetime choice of career.

 

 

 

(Left) Lorna Gourlay (Marketing & Communications Beverly Hills), Samantha Croft (GM Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani) with Kasia Yoko (Editor, The Bugle), Miguel de Sousa (F&B Manager Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani) and the inveterate traveller Yegas Naidoo (Miles for Smiles(Right) Tracy Lee Griffin with Lindsay Gray the owner and principal of South Africa’s oldest private School of Garden Design is enthusiastic on training for young people in horticulture, landscape design and to generally hone their gardening skills and improve their knowledge.  

 

We are grateful for the vision of our hoteliers recognizing young talent - searching for, finding the perfect candidates and nurturing them. The common thread that runs throughout is their will to succeed. After all having motivated, goal driven, enthusiastic staff is the backbone of an industry that is productive and flourishing. 

 

Each year inspiring, motivated speakers passionate about their fields with fresh ideas are introduced at the ‘Orientations’. We enjoyed having Dorah Sitole (Former Editor of True Love) on ‘achievement’, Sally-Ann Creed (Nutritional Therapist) on ‘hidden sugars’. Marcelle Warner on the joys of vertical gardens and Jean Paul Videau (artisan baker) on the essence of the honest loaf.

(Left to right) Brenda Wilkinson (Rio Largo Olive Estate) and Nicholas Holdcroft of Distell, a company that is South Africa’ largest producer of wines, spirits and ciders. A leader in the field producing some of the most successful and enduring award winning wines in South Africa. Nicholas is currently Brand Manager of Van Ryn’s, the single most awarded brandy house in the world. Established in 1845, a visit to this stunning distillery in Stellenbosch is most worthwhile.  

 

Rio Largo Estate is home to one of South Africa’s finest olive oils. Brenda Wilkinson and her husband, Nick, travel the world to introduce their olive oil at the same time, Brenda has become a most enthusiastic ambassador and is spreading the word about extra virgin olive oil produced locally.

 

Constantijn Hahndiek introduces us to Chef Andile Ndlovu and Wine Steward Sibonelo Zondo. Sibonelo is looking forward to visiting the Cape Winelands with the Grape to Glass experience, meeting with DeWet Viljoen at Neethlingshof and spending the afternoon at Van Ryn’s Distillery in Stellenbosch learning about the nuances and the serving of spirits. 

 

Andile explains, "I began my career as a waiter in the hospitality industry at Fairmont Zimbali, but it was the food side that really attracted me and eventually I joined the cold kitchen as a commis chef and later moved to the hot station where I learned about Indian cuisine. I must say that cooking is my great love and I think this is because it makes people feel really good. Today, I am very proud of what I have achieved so far. One day, I would like to be in charge of my own brigade. Thank you to Hartford House for making it possible for me to participate!"

 

 "As I have always had a love of people," says Sibonelo Zondo, "the hospitality industry became my goal and I have enjoyed being a part of it for the past seven years. It took a while for me to understand the complexity of wine and the passion with which it is made. Duncan Bruce at the Fairmont Zimbali was my mentor. Now at Hartford House I am once again working with GM Duncan Bruce and I am developing a palette for wine and an understanding of how this affects food pairing. My ambition is to become a fully fledged sommelier and offer a wealth of knowledge to my guests." 

 

 

Grape to Glass takes place in the Cape every year
introducing the wine stewards to well known
winemakers at some of Distell’s finest estates
where they are given an excellent introduction
from sherry to the world of spirits
including fine whisky and elegant brandies. 

 

(Left to right) Roxy and Lorinda Scott (FAB Mags) with Duncan Bruce (GM Hartford House) who masterminded both the dinner and luncheon with aplomb - every detail was perfection. Vicki Hooper (Venue for Conferences in Africa) and Peter von Zahn 

 

Our panel of top judges throughout SA will be headed by Heinz Brunner (Honorary Lifetime President of the South African Chefs Association, past Vice-Chairman of the World Body of Chefs and team manager of the Culinary Olympics team), Marieta Human (Hospitality Consultant), Craig Cormack (Innovative Celebrity Chef), Megan Angus (Woodview Angus & Wagyu Beef), Michelle Grimbeek (Director, Cape Wine Academy), Higgo Jacobs (Chairman of the SASA), Sandy Harper (CWM) and Germain Lehodey (Sommelier at Mosaic).

 

At each of the launches the hotel teams introduced their candidates, a highlight. Drawing the wines and spirits to complement their menus -
always creates an interested buzz!

 

(Left) The lovely Paula Plit who joined us from JHB for the occasion, with Executive Chef Shaun Munro Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani with glam Jean Hooper (Right) Executive Chef John Moatshe of the Durban International Convention Centre introduces us to his Candidate Chef Thokozile Nsibande and Wine Steward Beryl Dlamini who will be visiting Die Bergkelder and working with Fleur du Cap and Scottish Leader

 

"I remember watching Top Billing," says Beryl Dlamini, "and seeing the amazing tourist destinations. That really inspired me to become deeply involved with the food and beverage side of the hospitality industry, however one has to have passion to last! You need to learn attention to detail and strive for excellent service whether pouring a simple glass of wine or serving a coffee. As one of the Wine Stewards I am willing to learn and uphold the standard that has been designed and set for this challenge." 

 

Durban ICC Chef Candidate Thokozile Nsibande explains, "After studying culinary arts for one year I did in-service training at The Protea Hotel Edward. Later I took part in the Good Food & Wine Show where I had the honor of working with Rick Stein as his personal chef’s assistant. That is where I learned about cooking with love and passion. Although I enjoyed the hot station and the knowledge gained I have to be honest, I have now discovered patisserie! My vision and goal for the future will be to open my own bakery providing miniature desserts, savoury cocktail items and cakes to fit any occasion. I realise I have a lot to learn and a long way to go but determination and hard work will get me there."

 

Thokozile believes that although a chef should have a good head for business their focus should be behind the kitchen doors and a business partner should care for front of the house!

 

(Left to right) The ‘A Team’ Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani Food & Beverage Manager Miguel de Sousa mentor to Wine Steward Mzamo Mkhize, Baker Nokwazi Pretty Gigaba, Candidate Chef Nazrina Essop with assistant Raksha Lakhan, Executive Sous Chef Prenolan Naidoo and Executive Chef Shaun Munro who will be working with Elunda Basson at Pongrácz, Bertho van der Westhuizen at Alto and learn more about the award winning Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky!

 

Mzamo Mkhize is inspired by the fact that he is working with one of SA’s leading hotel groups Tsogo Sun. After the 2010 FIFA World Cup and witnessing the hospitality and tourism opportunities that came with it he began his studies for hospitality management. Once qualified, his journey continued at the five star Sofitel in Abu Dhabi where he worked as a waiter. Today, he is at the Tall Ships bar as a wine steward creating beautiful cocktails, learning wine service and in addition how to approach and offer the different spirits. He knows that experience gives the competitive edge. 

 

"I can’t wait to showcase the skills that I have learned in the Cape Legends & Artisan Spirits Inter Hotel Challenge," says Mzamo. "Although naturally reserved I simply come alive and enjoy the interaction with our guests!" 

 

Nazrina Essop - an all rounder in the making! The South African National Defense Force was Nazrina’s training ground however it was when she discovered that making sweet treats for her ten year old sister inspired her, she began making novelty cakes for friends and family. Realizing that this was where her talent lay, Nazrina enrolled at the SANZAF Hospitality School where she trained and completed a 12 months chef’s course. Mindful that most of her peers completed the three year qualification Nazrina knew she would have to work twice as hard, learning to thrive under pressure and think quickly on her feet. 

 

"Outside mastering pastry, the hot kitchen has been the greatest challenge and an amazing learning experience for me," explains Nazrina.

 

Nazrina’s sheer determination and spirit are attributes that Chef Shaun Munro looked for in a budding Cape Legends & Artisan Spirits Inter Hotel Candidate. 

 

(Left) Charlene Haripersad, Thabo Raflithu (General Manager, The Protea Hotel by Marriott Durban Edward), Emmanuel Manda (F&B Manager) and Naveshni Moonsamy (Asst. GM) (Right) Carol Spence, Principal, International Hotel School who will be hosting the Cook-Offs in June and the supportive Nicky Pearsall of Comair British Airways 

 

British Airways operated by Comair will be generously providing the magic carpet for our judges to attend the awards and for the winning hotel’s Executive Chef and their partner to enjoy a weekend at either the Beverly Hills or the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, depending from which region they are from:)

 

(Left) Executive Chef Stanley Skosana with his Candidate Chef Ntombie Jwara and F&B Manager Emmanuel Manda who will working with his candidate and Nederburg and Black Bottle, a blended Scottish whisky from around Aberdeenshire. Black Bottle was established in 1879 with a rich history and a unique flavour profile, silky mellow and fruity with balanced smoky, peaty flavours (Right) Kasia Yoko with Samantha Croft and Shirley Masojada  

 

Wine Steward Candidate Xolani Masinga says, "Today I work as a waitron at The Protea Hotel by Marriott Durban Edward. I am totally motivated by a love of hospitality and as a future sommelier I would like to thank Distell for making it possible to open a new door into the wide world of wine pairing and spirits."

 

Ntombie Jwara is currently at the Protea Marriott Hotel Edward. What gave her a kickstart was her aunt who runs the BAJAS Catering. Ntombie used to always help her out and this is where she realised that cooking was her choice of career and went on to study at the International Hotel School. From there she joined the Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani where she did her practical internship. In 2016 she joined The Edward. At the time Chef Stanley asked the team about their passion for cooking and growth and when he spoke about the competition Ntombie stepped up and asked to be the first one to be involved. 

 

"Now that there is Showcook this is the time for a good beginning!" said Ntombie. 

 

(Left to right) Mark Enslin, Gail Else (Freelance, Social Pages Mercury), Mamma Makoba (Durban ICC), Mike Else and Shaun Govender of Lancewood 

 

Bain’s double matured Cape Mountain Whisky, the only one made from yellow maize (corn) awarded the world’s best grain whisky - The most innovative product in whisky making around the globe reflecting a unique location, crafted in the gorgeous setting of the majestic Bain’s Kloof Pass in the Western Cape. 

 

Today, award-winning cheesemaker, Lancewood is without doubt producing South Africa’s finest cheese including most divine soft white cheese. Their cream cheese range and creative dips are a winner while cultured cream (crème fraîche) and mascarpone are consistently superb. Lancewood is proud to offer a thoughtfully chosen prize for the top dessert in this year’s challenge. The winner will be announced at the celebratory awards dinner at the Southern Sun Cape Sun, Saturday 5th August. Executive Chef Alfred Henry and his brigade will be producing an array of exquisite desserts - all chosen from among those submitted for the Challenge! 

 

(Left) James and Lee Currie (Right) Catherine and Jean-Paul Videau

 

The Skills Exchange Development Programme has become a special date on the calendar with international chefs, South African star chefs, up and coming stars Master Classes at KitchenAid with Michelin star chef patron Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen (Côte d’Azur, Nice) and top caterer Elsa van der Nest, Elsa&Co Singapore who demonstrate and share skills - an exciting day in store for our aspiring chefs, Friday 4th August!

 

(Left to right) Mike Hammersley, Eileen Stuart, Storm Fergason,
Elizabeth Hamilton, Jean Hooper and Paula Plit 

 

Bio-Wheat farmer Heinie Fourie 

 

The Candidates will be using choice ingredients; Woodview Angus Beef creative cuts in myriad ways, Lancewood Cheese, Rio Largo Olive Oil and Khoisan Sea Salt. We look forward to introducing Bio-Wheat Stone Ground Unbleached Natural Flour to the Bakers. The Fourie family has been farming in the Overberg region for decades and have a choice range, which importantly is GMO free! Heinie is committed to best farming practices by caring for the soil today, without a doubt a passionate farmer of Bio-Wheat.

 

(Left) Megan Angus of Woodview Wagyu Farm (Right) Full and rich Bunnahabhain from the Isle of Islay, Scotland where they produce this single malt with water from a natural spring. A malt that has rich toffee characteristics and the only whisky from the isle that is unpeated in a traditionally heavily peated area. (Right)  Sarah Cook and Amos Gumede (Distell)

 

Megan Angus joined us on the great day introducing us to Woodview Wagyu, the caviar of beef - bred in Japan for hundreds of years and is a national treasure. Right now her father, Brian Angus, is known for producing premium world class Wagyu. Interestingly, this crème de la crème beef has high concentrations of omega fatty acids, which we know have many health benefits and in addition they farm the popular Angus in South Africa. Woodview devotes extra care to quality rather than quantity producing their beef strictly without additives or antibiotics and producing both free range grass fed and grain fed. Great to order on-line as they supply direct. www.waggyu.co.za For biltong lovers this is a must!

 

(Left to right) Aubrey Ngcungama, our dynamic MC who can hold a note or two! (Director Vula Afrika who has just recently launched BLACC (Black Cellar Club) to reach emerging black South African wine enthusiasts, passionate to spread the wine word! Yegas Naidoo, Miguel de Sousa and Keru Moodley 

 

The 2016 winning chef, Rucita Naidoo representing Beverly Hills, Nederburg & Van Ryn’s, will be jetting off in May 2017 to the Michelin starred Radisson Blu Alcron in Prague for a brilliant opportunity of a three-week working visit. One week in the hot kitchen, one week in the cold kitchen and one week in the patisserie section. Return flights are generously provided by Distell. We are looking forward to hearing about Rucita’s trip and to perhaps having a taste of their exquisite patisserie which Prague is known for!

 

The 2016 winning wine steward, Sibonele Nongqotho (Wonga), representing Cape Grace, Zonnebloem & Bain’s will be embarking on a brilliant opportunity of a ten-day travel experience with Distell including London, a two day stay at the superb The Montague on the Gardens -  Red Carnation while working closely with the 67 Pall Mall sommelier team - the most exclusive wine club in the heart of St James then on to Scotland with visits to top distilleries; Deanston and Bunnahabhain. On the itinerary… France, Bisquit in stunning Cognac and finally an introduction to a world of wines in Bordeaux, La Cité du Vin!  

 

He has been awarded with a top bursary from the Cape Wine Academy and South African Sommeliers Association and had the opportunity of attending the launch of the prestigious Platter Wine Guide, tasting a large and varied selection of South Africa’s finest wines in the company of some of the country’s most experienced and trusted palates.

 

The 2017 winning Candidate Chef will enjoy a brilliant opportunity of a three-week visit to Dubai – a week at The Marriott Ritz-Carlton Hotel and two at their flagship  
JW Marriott Marquis
 where they will experience fine dining and large scale catering. 

 

Generous, practical and fabulous prizes will be awarded by Distell, to the winning Wine Steward as above. Superb iconic kitchen appliances from KitchenAid SAScanPan Cookware and Global Knives from AL&CD Ashley

 

Meaningful bursaries from the Cape Wine AcademyCTICCHospitality Property Fund, the International Hotel School and cash prizes from Avanti. In addition, delectable Lancewood Cheese for the ‘Best Dessert!’, Von Geusau Chocolates, elegant Riedel glassware and books for life from Struik Lifestyle.

 

 

We are delighted to announce that La Vie de Luc will be joining us and we are looking forward to hearing more about the background of this nationally known spring water with its origin from a pristine source high up in the mountains surrounding Franschhoek. 

 

Good luck to all our candidates!

 

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