Distell Inter Hotel Challenge

The admirable hotel industry in South Africa has over the years quietly grown into a magnificent force offering unlimited scope for true grit, talent and creativity and has become a shining example for advancement, fulfilling hope and aspirations. Bringing hotels together from three cities, bridging, networking and cementing relationships for a common good is the platform for the Challenge.

Ahead of the annual regional start to the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge, each competing hotel stage a rigorous and highly competitive in-house search for their own best young chefs, bakers and wine stewards before putting forward one from each category to compete against the other hotels.

Despite the friendly spirit among the candidates, there is a definite air of competition – everyone wants to win. It’s not only the honour of reaching the top spot that matters, but the prizes are also highly coveted. 

Samantha Swartz, ‘The Distell Inter Hotel Challenge Wine Steward of the Year 2018’ representing 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa paired with Plaisir de Merle and Van Ryn’s 
has recently returned from a brilliant travel experience with Distell! 

On her enviable itinerary: Scotland – the home of fine Distell distilleries; award-winning 
Deanston Single Malt Scotch Whisky and Bunnahabhain Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Bordeaux and La Cité du Vin. London, a two day stay at Marriott Bonvoy Moxy London Stratford while working with the elegant 67 Pall Mall top Sommelier team then on to enchanting Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Restaurant and Spa where she joined their top Sommelier Eric Zwiebel for that final polish – a stunning visit from Red Carnation Hotels
A DREAM OF A TRIP ~ SIYA MOLEFE One&Only Cape Town ‘Chef of the Year 2018’ recently flew with KLM South Africa – the royal way – to Amsterdam to take up a three week intense mentorship experience with the cream of the NH Collection – A week in the Vermeer Amsterdam under the wing of Michelin star chef Chris Naylor at the NH Collection Amsterdam Barbizon Palace hotel, a week at the legendary culinary museum and Restaurant, Restaurant d’Vijff Vlieghen and finally a week at the NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky at The White Room where Three Michelin Star Chef Jan Boerma leads the team that carries out his vision in Amsterdam; led by the young yet experienced Chef de Cuisine Arturo Dalhuizen, Maître Richard Eerhardt and Sommelier Isabel van Bueren.

The Distell Inter Hotel Challenge  is in every true sense of the phrase, a programme of far-reaching social responsibility objectives. The primary objective of the competition is to create and sustain a strong national base of top quality chefs, bakers and wine stewards, and more recently concierges. This in turn plays a huge role in South Africa’s tourism industry. In many ways, it is in their hands that the future of our hospitality industry lies, not only as a valuable source of national income but also as one of the key contributors to the international brand that is South Africa. 

It is not just the winners who benefit from the rigorous Challenge. During the years, every candidate who competed benefited from the knowledge and experience gained. Importantly, by participating on a public platform such as this, watched closely by the cream of the hospitality industry including chefs, hotel management and sommeliers, many have gone on to enjoy promotions within their current places of employment, others by taking up posts in international hospitality venues or by taking on positions in South Africa’s leading hotels, safari lodges, restaurants and other hospitality outlets. Over the six years of their mentorship programme, the organisers have seen young candidates make a real name for themselves within the industry, by becoming ambassadors for the hospitality industry abroad and often by becoming authors, television personalities or leaders on social networks. Importantly, many of them go on to mentor their own new intake of youngsters who want to do well in the industry.

“This is initiative is definitely what the South African hospitality industry needs. There is so much undiscovered talent out there, all waiting for the chance to shine!” – Ashleigh Christie, Regional HR Director – Africa MINOR HOTELS

One&Only Cape Town ‘Chef of the Year 2018’ Siya Molefe
MENTOR OF THE YEAR, Sandi Richmond Chef de Cuisine at Reuben’s One&Only Cape Town with Asst. Chef Sarah de Villiers, Chef of the Year SIYA MOLEFE and Kyle Hickman, Executive Sous Chef. In addition, winning the Lancewood Best Dessert prize and the best Food & Wine Pairing with Durbanville Hills Rhinofields Noble Late Harvest! 

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