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After many decades The Palace retains all
the lustre that gave this glittering fantasy
a permanent position on the world’s bucket
list of irresistible places to visit!



Delectable canapés are king and began the lunch in great style served with chilled flutes of Pongrácz Brut. The lunch took place in the gorgeous setting of Plume Restaurant at The Palace at the Lost City. Starters orders were Salmon Carpaccio served with citrus Lancewood cream cheese, lemon pepper pearls, crisp onions, wild rocket and cured cucumber presented by Executive Chef Gerard Vingerling, Palazzo Monte Casino, which paired deliciously with Neethlingshof Sauvignon Blanc Single Vineyard.  


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 the 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. 


James Sithole with Herman Brits (General Manager Hospitality, Sun City Resort) and Rob Collins (Chief Operating Officer Marketing, Sun International) 


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) Enormously popular Pongrácz, headed by excellent winemaker Elunda Basson and her team, is a specialty Méthode Cap Classique bubbly named after Desiderius Pongrácz. Enchanting Desiderius, one of the heavenly sparklers in the range that include Pongrácz Brut Rosé and Pongrácz Brut. 

(Centre) Twice Cooked Wagyu Beef Braised Brisket served with parsnip purée, braised charred onion rainbow carrots, broccoli florets and jus presented by excellent chef Robin Brophy at The Palace of the Lost City.

(Right) They say that there is always a story in Nederburg and cellarmaster Andrea Freeborough certainly continues her unrelenting search for top quality. Andrea and her team should be applauded for four - five star ratings - a stellar achievement and for the second time Nederburg is the richly deserving ‘Platter’s Winery of the Year’! 


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, 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.


(Left) Rob Collins, Allan and Samantha Clingham (General Manager InterContinental JHB O.R. Tambo) and Pam Collins (Right) Mike Waller (Director, Dragonfly Africa) with his lovely wife, Lucinda. 

Keynote speaker Rob Collins (Chief Operating Officer Marketing, Sun International) gave us much to ponder. He spoke about the ‘SPIKE’, the thought provoking book by René Carayol, encouraging us to embrace and seek out our individual spike! Focus and concentrate on what we are great at while steering clear and avoiding areas, which we are not comfortable with or have no great passion for. Rob went on to say that in the hospitability industry by just following the simple identification of where your own strength lies, your life would have more context, fulfillment and pleasure. 


Guest speaker Mike Waller (Director Dragonfly Africa) spoke on the importance of Incentive Tourism to our industry bringing in huge numbers of visitors, winners in their particular fields. He stressed that it is vital to make sure hotels put their best foot forward and give a warm welcome when hosting on-site inspections that always take place before the final decision is taken as to which hotels are being utilized. Remembering that we have great competition, not only among our hotels, but also among countries!  



(Left) Melanie Burke with Vanya Mangaliso (Centre) Poached Tiger Prawn, smoked Lancewood cream cheese noodles, Wagyu biltong mousse, garden pea textures and wild mushroom velouté presented by Garth Johnson of The Maslow, which paired with Fleur du Cap unfiltered Chenin Blanc. Fleur du Cap is a Distell much loved and much celebrated wine produced at Die Bergkelder, one of the most awarded wines in South Africa.   


Melanie Burke (Chairman StreetSmart SA) explains that StreetSmart is a conduit fundraising organization that partners with restaurants to receive donations from diners to support their own locally based beneficiary organizations. In this way locally run programmes can be funded to prevent the vulnerable from becoming street children and help children already on the streets through reintegration back into schools or families. 


Last year, StreetSmart restaurants and their diners raised over R1 million nationally. The top donor was La Mouette in Cape Town. La Mouette says that, “Contributing to a worthy cause is such a big part of the La Mouette story. We work long hours and wish we could spend time doing the charity work, however this is not always possible therefore StreetSmart provides the ideal vessel for us to help a wonderful and tangible cause. We are indeed proud to be associated with StreetSmart SA.”




Granny Smith apple slaw in a Lancewood yoghurt dressing, apple thyme and fennel chutney dressed with walnuts and creamy gorgonzola cheese, presented by Executive Chef Yoshan Naidu of the InterContinental JHB O.R. Tambo, paired wonderfully with Durbanville Hills Rhinofields Chardonnay.




Sandy Harper, Cape Wine Master and wine judge with Annette Kesler and her son, Steven, who flew out from Atlanta for the launch. General Manager Gavin Ferreira, De Hoek Country Hotel with Chania Morritt-Smith. 



(Left) Nicholas Holdcroft and Robyn Bradshaw of Distell (Right) Chris de Klerk (Distell) and Aubrey Ngcungama, our dynamic MC and Director of Vula Afrika. Aubrey has recently launched BLACC, the Black Cellar Club, to reach emerging black South African wine enthusiasts - passionate to spread the wine word! 



Our wine stars! Marie Manyoha (The Palace of the Lost City), Rodrick Mathe (Melrose Arch Hotel), Mannana Ntsamai (The Palazzo), Vusi Msipha (Balalaika) and Zimkhitha Mashiyi (The Maslow) (Left to right) Candice Adams (International Hotel School), Mark Adams, Samantha and Martin Swanepoel. 


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


In the hospitality industry, among other areas that are pivotal, is service and excellent service is to be applauded! 

(Left) Ashleigh Christie (Hospitality Property Fund) and Mark Stevens (Right) Rick Hartslief and Deon Roets of Capsicum Culinary Studio who will be hosting the regional Cook-Offs in June in Johannesburg and Cape Town. While the Durban Cook-Offs will be hosted at the International Hotel School. 


Ashleigh Christie has stepped into the breach to motivate and provide inspiration to the candidates at all our orientations and more! The Hospitality Property Fund is very generously giving a bursary award to the ‘Most Promising Chef’ to the value of R20 000. 


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 produce 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) Sandy Harper (Judge, CWM), Brenda Wilkinson (Rio Largo Olive Estate), Megan Angus and Marie Angus (Woodview Wagyu Farm(Right) Heinie and Tirsa Fourie of Bio-Wheat, Golden Reef Milling


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


The dynamic Palace team; Brandon Govender and Robin Brophy with their candidates; Marie Manyoha who has risen through the ranks to where she is right now as restaurant manager at The Palace fine dining restaurant, Plume, where she has taken every opportunity to develop her expertise and skills. 


Candidate Chef Thato Khumalo worked at The Palace during school holidays at a young age and knowing very little he was inspired by the hotel industry and fell in love with the culinary arts. Thato has been very excited to be part of the SA junior team in Dubai and they took bronze in the Alen Thong Challenge! 


The Palace team drew Fleur du Cap and Black Bottle to work with and pair their menu for the Cook-Offs in June. Marie will be joining the Fleur du Cap winemaking team in May for the Grape to Glass, a three day visit to Cape Town where they meet the winemaker and learn about spirits at Van Ryn’s. In August, Marie will be introduced to the art of blending wine and the making of scintillating cocktails with the edgy hipster blended whisky, Black Bottle! 

Executive Chef Yoshan Naidu with Thandolwabo Methula whose career in food was inspired by Jamie Oliver and now happy to be assisting Candidate Chef Mamello Fokane and Candidate Wine Steward Zanele Dube. Mamello as a young teenager made the decision to become a chef and as she said, "I still get goosebumps about this. Most of all to be part of the hospitality industry is a magical career move."  The InterContinental JHB O.R. Tambo hotel drew Durbanville Hills and Bunnahabhain to pair with their three course menu. 


Zanele is looking forward to meeting cellarmaster Martin Moore and his team of red and white winemakers in Durbanville Hills. She says, "What I enjoy the most about the hospitality industry is that I meet different types of people learn about their cultures, languages and lifestyles. So I’m pursuing my life long passion of food and wine by going to university and hoping to become a top sommelier and complete a master sommelier certificate. Over time I have developed a passion for winemaking and currently have an interest in the production of brandy and whisky. The Challenge has given me the opportunity to showcase my skills, knowledge and passion - thank you!" 


Durbanville Hills has seen their growth skyrocket, much of their excellent wines are exported. For wine buffs this award winning winery has a superb cellar and one not to miss when you are in the Cape! The merlot dry rosé is fantastic and for those that enjoy a good dessert wine do try the Noble Late Harvest. (Right) Marlize Heyden and Marize de Klerk (Video News Services 24/7)

(Left) Edward Chamberlain-Bell and Samantha Clingham, (General Manager InterContinental JHB  O.R. Tambo) (Right) Nhlanhla Mahlangu and Mpotseng Lebentlele


 Daniel Axt, Head Chef Adrian Vigus-Brown and Rodrick Mathe 
African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel by Marriott   


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 South African Sommeliers Association), Sandy Harper (CWM) and Germain Lehodey (Sommelier at Mosaic)


The 2016 winning chef, Rucita Naidoo representing Beverly Hills, Nederburg & Van Ryn’s, will be jetting off in June 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 AcademyCape Town International Convention CentreHospitality 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.


(Left) Norwegian Salmon Gravlax roasted garlic aioli, a medley of beetroot, fennel with cultured cream presented by Daniel Nduna, Radisson Blu Gautrain which paired deliciously with Zonnebloem Sauvignon Blanc. 

(Centre) Hand harvested Khoisan sea salt from the Velddrif salt pans on the West Coast. What is important about Khoisan is that there are no chemical additives. It does have minerals and calcium and retains most of the trace elements of origin. An exquisite salt that enhances taste in the most natural way. (Right) The much adored Dorah Sitole with Norma Young. 


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.

Candidate Wine Steward Zimkhitha Mashiyi and F&B Manager Avinash Sooklall, the team from The Maslow will be meeting winemaker Niel Bester at the fine historic estate Plaisir de Merle in Franschhoek in May. (Right) Liesel Pretorius (Avanti Coffee) and Leigh-Ann Keogh. Liesel gave the candidates the A-Z of coffee lore at the Orientation at UJ, The Kerzner Hospitality Centre an excellent conference facility where we were warmly welcomed. Chris de Klerk of Distell shared his knowledge and views conducting the Cape Wine Academy introductory course to all the wine stewards later that day. 

At each of the launches the hotel teams
introduced their candidates and drawing
the matching wines and spirits
every year always creates an exciting buzz!


(Left) Christina Kneitz (Bullrun Restaurant, Food & Beverage) with Melinda Raath (Interpreter) and Nancy Gaylard (Protea Hotel by Marriott, Johannesburg Balalaika Sandton). (Centre) Dark Chocolate Tart with milk chocolate cream and a passion fruit gel presented by Executive Chef Alan Bridge, Balalaika who are paired with Pongrácz and Bisquit Dubouché et Cie, this fine French Cognac.


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 to right) Team Protea Hotel Balalaika by Marriott - Wine Steward Vusi Msipha, Executive Chef Alan Bridge, Candidate Chef Nelly Mamadisha and Neo Mofokeng who will be assisting this year. (Right) Senior Sous Chef Chad Bosman and Wine Steward Candidate Mannana Ntsamai with Chef Nicholas Freitas.


Nicholas de Angelo Ribeiro Freitas knew he wanted to be a chef from an early age. He always had an interest in food and from when he first started cooking meals for his family, his career was clear. He studied at Capsicum Culinary Studio and graduated with a Diploma in Food Preparation and Cooking. After completing his apprenticeship he worked at DW Eleven - 13 and the Reef Hotel before joining The Palazzo Montecasino. Since then he has focused on learning and experiencing what Nicholas calls “the greater cuisine”. He is particularly driven and within a year of joining The Palazzo was promoted from Commis Chef to Chef de Partie. His big ambition is to become an Executive Chef within the next 5 years. Nicholas (a dedicated Blue Bulls man) is the dedicated chef for the Springbok Rugby Team when they visit The Palazzo. He’s always trying to come up with new ideas by deconstructing recipes and then reinventing them with the products presenting the freshness and most intense flavors.


"The message I would like to send out," says Nelly Mamadisha of the Balalaika, "is that being deaf doesn’t stop you from being who you are, lack of knowledge does! It is important to know that practice makes perfect, that it is important to show your talent and who you are. What better way to do this than through food. My goal for the future is to be a top chef in a hospitality school to enable me one day to have my own chefs academy teaching other people to cook. This is a practical industry that can both empower and employ people, one where career opportunities are possible." 


"After completing my studies in IT,’ says Vusi Msipha, "my brother, who I trust with my heart and soul, said that the best decision that you can make is go into hospitality. This was a fine decision. Over time I’m now at the Bull Run Restaurant learning about wine and food, and have been fortunate to share the knowledge I have learned with our guests. I’m excited to be once again part of the Cape Legends & Artisan Spirits Inter Hotel Challenge. This is the beginning of a new journey to broaden the experience that I need to have." 


Vusi will meet with Elunda Basson, winemaker of Pongrácz, and looks forward to learning more about Bisquit during the Grape to Glass in May. 


Executive Chef Gerard Vingerling with Nicholas Freitas 


Candidate Chef Nicholas Frietas at The Palazzo under the guidance of Senior Sous Chef Chad Bosman and Executive Chef Gerard Vingerling will be pairing their menu with Zonnebloem and Monis. Sherry is back in fashion and now often served lightly chilled and used in cocktails. There are eight classes in a sherry style (fortified) wine among them pale dry, pale cream, medium cream and full cream. "We are looking forward to exploring the possibilities of sherry pairing," says Nicholas and MannanaNicholas de Angelo Ribeiro Freitas knew he wanted to be a chef from an early age. He always had an interest in food and from when he first started cooking meals for his family, his career was clear. He studied at Capsicum Culinary Studio and graduated with a Diploma in Food Preparation and Cooking. After completing his apprenticeship he worked at DW Eleven - 13 and the Reef Hotel before joining The Palazzo Montecasino. Since then he has focused on learning and experiencing what Nicholas calls “the greater cuisine”. He is particularly driven and within a year of joining The Palazzo was promoted from Commis Chef to Chef de Partie. His big ambition is to become an Executive Chef within the next 5 years. Nicholas (a dedicated Blue Bulls man) is the dedicated chef for the Springbok Rugby Team when they visit The Palazzo. He’s always trying to come up with new ideas by deconstructing recipes and then reinventing them with the products presenting the freshness and most intense flavors. 


"During my internship at The Palazzo," says Candidate Wine Steward Mannana Ntsamai, "I fell in love with the food and beverage side. Luckily I was chosen to stay on and enjoy events and banqueting. This is the beginning of my journey and I’m looking forward to where it takes me." 


Executive Chef Garth Johnson proudly introducing his candidates, Zimkhitha Mashiyi and Mpotseng Modise. "The potential within the hospitality industry is huge," says Zimkhitha Mashiyi at Sun International The Maslow. "Giving our guests the experience of our fine wines and spirits is fulfilling. I love what I do. This gives me a fresh perspective in my life and I particularly find the food and wine pairing most exciting." 


The Maslow team will be working with Plaisir de Merle and the Van Ryn’s distillery in Vlottenberg, Stellenbosch, the most awarded brandy in the world! Superb and of a consistently fine quality, sumptuous, reminiscent of cherries and berries in the 12 year old, honey and citrus in the 15 year old and Christmas in a bottle for the 20 year with hints of nutmeg - so smooth!   


(Left) Dina Burger & Carin van Rooyen of Lancewood, (Right) Executive Chef Robert Mackenzie with Candidate Wine Steward Gift Ntshangase and Chef Buti Mahoane of De Hoek Country Hotel who are looking forward to working with Bertho van der Westhuizen Alto winemaker and Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky 


Although Jonathan ‘Gift’ Ntshangase’s ambition was to become a computer programmer writing software and changing the world for the better, he discovered the hospitality industry and found he was the perfect fit. Latterly, he joined the De Hoek team in 2013 where his love and interest for service, amazing food and wine quickly accelerated and he now holds a position in the fine dining Conservatory. It is plain to see that he is interested in wine culture, fascinated by the role of sommeliers and the benefit to discerning diners.

Buti Abram Mahoane, currently studying at HTA Culinary School, began life at De Hoek as a junior waiter but was simply attracted to the kitchen so when he was offered the chance to work there he grabbed it with both hands and that was the start of a new world. He has blossomed under the mentorship of Robert Mackenzie and we could not think of a more able, capable and willing young chef. As he says he is particularly drawn to the heat, pressure and temperament you face in a very busy kitchen.

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 Crown National with top caterer Elsa van der Nest, Elsa&Co Singapore who demonstrate and share skills - an exciting day in store for our aspiring chefs!


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. 


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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