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Culinary starsSOUTH AFRICA’S

Twenty-five hotels from around the country entered their candidate chefs and wine stewards in
the third annual Inter Hotel Challenge. CemAir Skynews Correspondent Eugene Yiga was at the
finale to find out which young stars came out on top.

“This has been a wonderful                    that makes us successful as a group.”             	 From Johannesburg, 54 on Bath was
opportunity; a joy to see and                 	 After the matching, the candidate               part of the three-way tie for Best Bread
experience the heart-warming                  chefs and wine stewards took part in a            and Protea Hotel Balalaika was part of
enthusiasm and achievement                    series of exercises and initiatives. First,       the two-way tie for Best Team. Radisson
over years,” said Annette                     a “Grape to Glass” experience in May              Blu Gautrain was part of the three-way
Kesler, editor of Showcook.                   allowed the candidate wine stewards to            tie for the Lancewood “Best Dessert”
com and organiser of the                      spend a day with their chosen winemaker           Award (Tshepo Dikgole) and received an
competition. “We should be                    to learn more about wine production and           honorary mention for Best Team.
proud of our hotels in South                  the key to pairing wine with food.                	 From Durban, Southern Sun Elangeni
Africa. They’re doing a great                 	 Regional “cook-offs” and Showcook.              & Maharani was part of the two-way tie
job.”                                         com also held an “Indian Ocean Island             for Best Team and secured second place
                                              Cuisine Day” in June. This Skills                 in the wine steward category (Mduduzi
The challenge began with five                 Exchange Development Programme                    Shabangu). The Beverly Hills came third
           Crème de la Crème Executive        took place at the state-of-the-art Unilever       in the chef category (Mukhtar Alli),
           Chef dinners in February and       Kitchens in La Lucia Ridge in Durban              received an honorary mention for Best
           March. During these gala events,   and featured chefs from the Seychelles            Team, and won the award for Most
each hotel’s executive chef introduced the    (Davinder Rawat from Paradise Sun and             Glamorous Table of the night.
candidates. Each event also had a random      Cursley Lebrass from Maia Luxury Resort           	 As was the case last year, Western
draw to pair the hotels with a wine brand     and Spa), Mauritius (Vikash Coonjan               Cape hotels won the majority of the
from Cape Legends: Allesverloren,             from One&Only Le Saint Géran), and                awards. Grootbos Private Nature
Alto, Durbanville Hills, Fleur Du Cap,        Abu Dhabi (Don Chandana Ratnasiri                 Reserve’s Bennet Msweli won the
Le Bonheur, Lomond, Neethlingshof,            Munasingha). Port Elizabeth and Kwa-              South African Sommeliers Association
Plaisir de Merle, Pongrácz, Stellenzicht,     Zulu Natal candidates attended, together          Award for the most “Up & Coming
Uitkyk and Zonnebloem. These all form         with students from the International Hotel        Wine Steward” while One&Only Cape
part of the fine wine arm of Distell, a       School.                                           Town’s Mercy Mwai, won this award
conglomerate with a strong portfolio of       	 “We are privileged to have them in a most       last year, moved up to third place. The
internationally renowned and award-           valuable exchange of creativity – an inspiration  Belmond Mount Nelson was part of the
winning wine estates.                         to all our candidates who have benefitted from    three-way tie for Best Bread and The
	 “For us at Cape Legends, it’s one of        an introduction to the island tables and to Abu   Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa received an
our best initiatives; not just to help build  Dhabi, which has its own very special flavour,”   honorary mention for Best Team.
and further the hospitality industry, but     Kesler said.                                      	 The Westin was part of the three-way
also people’s careers,” said Carina Gous,     	 In the first two weeks of July, each            tie for the Lancewood “Best Dessert”
Business Director of Distell. “We represent   hotel showcased their menu. But for the           Award and won the award for Most
a group of wine estates and well-loved and    finals, only the top five candidates in each      Creative Chef (Jody Africa). Taj Cape
well-established wine brands throughout the   category competed at the South African            Town was also part of the three-way tie
industry. They’re all unique and have their   Chefs Academy in Cape Town. They                  for the Lancewood “Best Dessert” Award
own character, but they do share a common     were then judged by a panel of respected          and won the award for the table setting
thread of quality, excellence, and endurance  food and wine professionals, led by               that best reflects the ethos of the hotel.
                                              Paul Hartmann of South African Chefs              Radisson Blu Waterfront’s Robyn Marney
                                              Academy and Chris de Klerk of Cape                won the “RIO LARGO Top Woman
                                              Legends. In mid-August, the winners               Cook for Meticulous Presentation”
                                              were announced at a gala dinner at the            award and secured second place in the
                                              Southern Sun Cape Sun.                            chef category. But Cape Grace was the

22 October / November 2015 CEMAIR
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