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Distell Set On Building Hospitality Talent

The Distell Inter Hotel Challenge is turning to distance learning in its goal to train and hone the skills of tomorrow’s hospitality talent. The organisers of the prestigious annual challenge that exposes competitors to an in-depth learning programme, are moving their syllabus online, beginning with the Grape to Glass module, designed for wine service specialists.

“Yes, of course the hospitality industry has taken a massive knock from Covid-19 but using the tools available to us and going online, we can transfer important information and continue to introduce candidates to some of South Africa’s leading winemakers and distillers,” said Chania Morritt-Smith of Showcook.com, that has been running the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge since 2013. “And the beauty of the new approach is that candidates can return repeatedly to the learning content that was previously delivered in a once-off live lecture format.

“We are thrilled to be able to upskill our 2020 wine steward candidates, each of them representing a top South African hotel matched with a premium Distell wine and spirit brand.

“Tourism has a huge role to play in our economy and an important part is the Cape Winelands, often the first port of call for visitors to South Africa. Our aspiring wine stewards – sommeliers to be – are determined and dedicated to their studies of the wines and spirits of the Cape to be able, when the call is made, to present them with flair and professionalism.”

In total, there are 20 competing teams, with most including a wine steward, chef and assistant, pastry chef, baker, concierge and barista, as well as their mentors (where applicable).

In previous years, the selected wine steward candidates travelled to the Cape Winelands to cement their wine and spirits knowledge by meeting distillers and winemakers of the participating Distell liquor brands and undergo learning sessions, tastings and examinations. 

“The knowledge will continue to grow. We’re extending it digitally, communicating centuries of wine and spirit, tradition, erudition and appreciation to new generations and new communities, always underpinning content with very clear messaging about responsible consumption,” Morritt-Smith explained.     

Candidates are being trained online by Harry Melck, principal of the Cape Wine Academy (CWA) and Jean-Vincent Ridon, head of the Sommeliers Academy, via online platform Zoom, with exams that follow. Once the wine stewards have qualified, they all receive prestigious Distell Inter Hotel Challenge pins.

Some of Distell’s top-line distillers and winemakers are also involved in the skills transfer. They include Allesverloren winemaker Wilhelm de Vries, Pongrácz winemaker Andiswa Mapheleba, Durbanville Hills cellar-master Martin Moore, Nederburg managing director Niël Groenewald, Bain’s and Three Ships master distiller Andy Watts, Plaisir de Merle winemaker Niel Bester, Van Ryn’s master distiller Marlene Bester, Fleur du Cap winemaker Pieter Badenhorst and Zonnebloem red winemaker Bonny van Niekerk. 

The next phase in the digital learning process will be the ‘Skills Exchange Development Programme’ also delivered on Zoom, later this year.

All webinars streamed live will be recorded and made available to candidates.

Morritt-Smith also said that the organisers would be closely monitoring any changes to current lockdown conditions. These developments would determine the format for judging and prize giving.

Overall, awards are being given for: ‘Wine Steward of the Year’ (1st, 2nd & 3rd), ‘Most Up & Coming Wine Steward of the Year’, ‘Chef of the Year’ (1st, 2nd & 3rd), ‘Pastry Chef of the Year’ (1st, 2nd & 3rd), ‘Most Promising Chef of the Year’, ‘Team & GM of the Year’, ‘Top 3 Cocktails’, ‘Mentor of the Year’, ‘KitchenAid Africa Best Bio-Wheat Baker of the Year’ (1st, 2nd & 3rd), ‘Best Barista of the Year’ (1st, 2nd & 3rd), ‘Top 3 Concierges of the Year’, ‘ScanPan Excellent Kitchen Practice’, ‘Denny Most Delectable Starter’, ‘SA Pork Purple Ribbon Award Main Course’, and ‘Lancewood Best Dessert’.

Richard Rushton, the Distell’s chief executive officer (CEO) added: “It is an honour for Distell to be the headline sponsor of the Inter Hotel Challenge for the eighth year running.  Our long-standing involvement is a clear demonstration of our commitment to South Africa’s hospitality and to skills development and transfer. We are enormously excited by the potential of our country’s young chefs, sommeliers and wine stewards and look forward to their contribution to this vitally important sector. 

“What makes the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge such an important and progressive platform is the way it actively encourages the pooling of talent, skill and resources for greater impact, something that’s needed now more than ever before.”

The Distell Inter Hotel Challenge 2020 teams:

KWAZULU-NATAL:

PROTEA HOTEL BY MARRIOTT DURBAN EDWARD (DURBANVILLE HILLS & BAIN’S)

WINE STEWARD: Sakhile Ngubane

BARISTA: Zuke Nduduzo

CHEF: George Mohlala, assisted by Gorman Bongumusa Nthangase

PASTRY CHEF: Thembeka Portia Mzobe

BAKER: Thobeka Sanele Zulu

DURBAN INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE (PONGRÁCZ & CRUZ)

WINE STEWARD: Sithembile Angel Khuzwayo

CHEF: Siphiwe Ngcobo assisted by Mfundo Gcwensa

PASTRY CHEF: Sindi Mbili

BAKER: Malusi Hlangu

SOUTHERN SUN ELANGENI & MAHARANI (NEDERBURG & SCOTTISH LEADER)

WINE STEWARD & BARISTA: Justice Nhlakanipho Zondo

CHEF: Asanda Khanyile

PASTRY CHEF: Alka Gyanda

BAKER: Nokwazi Gigaba

SUNCOAST HOTEL & TOWERS (FLEUR DU CAP & THREE SHIPS)

WINE STEWARD: Happiness Vilane

BARISTA: Sikhumbuzo Sithole

CHEF: Monique Dunn assisted by Manfred Mkhonza

PASTRY CHEF: Nikita Nagasur

BAKER: Sheldon Ramdhanee

BEVERLY HILLS HOTEL (TSOGO SUN) (ALLESVERLOREN & KLIPDRIFT)

WINE STEWARD: Xolani Mzileni

BARISTA: Lungile Ignatia Mkhize

CHEF: Ivanna Ganesh

PASTRY CHEF: Sohail Seegobin

BAKER: Ntsiki Msweli

GAUTENG:

PROTEA HOTEL BY MARRIOTT JOHANNESBURG BALALAIKA SANDTON (DURBANVILLE HILLS & SCOTTISH LEADER)

WINE STEWARD: Sinead Sinclair

BARISTA: Vivian Sigiwji

CHEF: Andriano Uys

PASTRY CHEF: Percy Leso

CONCIERGE: Lawrence Magedane

THE PALACE OF THE LOST CITY – SUN CITY RESORT (NEDERBURG & THREE SHIPS)

WINE STEWARD: to be confirmed

CHEF: Thabang Moloedi assisted by Grace Gouwe

PASTRY CHEF: Dineo Mathabathe

BAKER: Caterine Kgosimore

REUBEN’S AT THE IVY VILLA HOTEL & SPA (ZONNEBLOEM & BAIN’S)

WINE STEWARD: Rutendo Marovatsanga

CHEF: Tyrese Charmaine Slade

PASTRY CHEF: to be confirmed

TSOGO SUN GAUTENG TEAM: INTERCONTINENTAL JOHANNESBURG OR TAMBO, THE PALAZZO, 54 ON BATH (CRUZ MANHATTAN BLOSSOM)

WINE STEWARD: Sandile Mavuso (mentor: Yoshan Naidu)

BARISTA: Kabelo Mokgale (mentor: Gareth Jordaan and Ainsley Williams)

CHEF: Sihle Dlamini (mentors: Yoshan Naidu and Matthew Foxon)

ASSISTANT CHEF: Senzo Mlambo (mentor: Yoshan Naidu)

PASTRY CHEF: Boyboy Jerry Magae (mentor: Gareth Jordaan)

BAKER: Shaughan Lacey (mentor: Matthew Foxon)

CONCIERGE Kagisho Ditira (mentor: Deon Prinsloo)

DE HOEK COUNTRY HOTEL (PONGRÁCZ & GORDON’S LONDON DRY GIN)

WINE STEWARD: Victor Mofokeng

CHEF: Angeline Mthembu

PASTRY CHEF: Girly Agnes Nyoni

SUN TIME SQUARE (SUN INTERNATIONAL) (PLAISIR DE MERLE & VAN RYN’S)

WINE STEWARD: Peter John

BARISTA: Phemelo Modisane

CHEF: Basi Sebolai assisted by Kabelo Molefe

PASTRY CHEF: Olga Kobo

BAKER: Robert Clayton Philander

WESTERN CAPE:

THE TWELVE APOSTLES HOTEL & SPA (BAIN’S)

WINE STEWARD Mmeli Ngamlana

BARISTA: to be confirmed

CHEF: Nicole Theunissen

PASTRY CHEF: Ryan Cupido

BAKER: Prince Umera

THE LIZ McGRATH COLLECTION (PONGRÁCZ & CRUZ VODKA)

WINE STEWARD: Akhona Koti

BARISTA: Sakhumzi Mtwecu

CHEF: Sphamandla Nyakambi assisted by Zimasa Raqa

PASTRY CHEF: Kristin Terisita Reagon

BELMOND MOUNT NELSON HOTEL (NEDERBURG & THREE SHIPS)

WINE STEWARD: Keegan Terry

BARISTA: to be confirmed

CHEF: Janice Donavan Saka

PASTRY CHEF: Azriel Coleman

BAKER: Andisiwe Mtsolo

THE VINEYARD HOTEL & SPA (FLEUR DU CAP & VAN RYN’S)

WINE STEWARD: Grant Lodewyks (Square restaurant)

BARISTA: Ndumiso Qolintaba (Long Café)

CHEF: Brandon Erasmus assisted by Suleiman Issacs (Myoga restaurant)

PASTRY CHEF: Bianca de Andrade (The Vineyard main kitchen)

BAKER Chadwin Simmers (The Vineyard bakery)

CONCIERGE: Michelle Tommy

TAJ CAPE TOWN (DURBANVILLE HILLS & SCOTTISH LEADER)

WINE STEWARD: Devika Giga

BARISTA: Margaret Shakatwa

CHEF: Matthew Oliphant

PASTRY CHEF: Chekay Small

CONCIERGE: Charné Davids

NH THE LORD CHARLES HOTEL (ALLESVERLOREN & BAIN’S)

WINE STEWARD: Danielle Fourie

BARISTA: Verginie Lendor

CHEF: Akram Apollis assisted by Clinton Haas

PASTRY CHEF & BAKER: Ferdinand October

THE PRESIDENT HOTEL (DURBANVILLE HILLS & CRUZ VODKA)

WINE STEWARD: Ayabonga Makupula

BARISTA: Cedrick Thabo Sibi

CHEF: Ashley Marehwa

PASTRY CHEF & BAKER: Palesa Klaasen

CONCIERGE: Michael Chihwai & Evander Blair Mbindwane

THE TABLE BAY HOTEL (SUN INTERNATIONAL) (ZONNEBLOEM & GORDON’S LONDON DRY GIN)

WINE STEWARD: Amanda Moyakhe

CHEF: Amy Maria

PASTRY CHEF: Lwando Manando

CONCIERGE: Chelsea Jephthah

LANZERAC HOTEL & SPA (ALLESVERLOREN & THREE SHIPS)

WINE STEWARD: Linda Siya

BARISTA: Roundy Dwaze

CHEF: Amber van Reenen assisted by Thandiswa Watha

PASTRY CHEF: Anna Baker (mentor: Werner Steyn)

BAKER: Gracian Scheepers

CONCIERGE: Anel Rust

The judges:

  • Regional food judges: Heinz Brunner, Marieta Human and Fatima Stanley (KZN), Dorah Sitole (JHB), Brian McCune (CT), Hugh von Zahn (KZN), Jac Kolver (CPT) and Lorraine Meaney (CPT)
  • Wine & spirit service presentation judges: Sandy Harper & Jean-Vincent Ridon (CT) 
  • Regional wine and food pairing judges: Kristina Beuthner, Tinashe Nyamudoka (JHB), Karen Bloom (KZN), Ndaba Dube and Aubrey Ngcungama (CT)
  • Concierge judge: Horst Frehse and South African Tourism.

To view the various prizes on offer, go to www.showcook.com.

Follow the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge on Twitter (@DistellGroup; @Showcookcom) and Facebook (@DistellGroup; @Showcook.com). 

Join the conversation and use the hashtags: #DistellInterHotelChallenge2020, #DistellIHC2020 and/or #InterHotelChallenge.

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