The National Distell Inter Hotel Challenge Cook-Offs – A most exciting time as they head to the finishing line…

“Coming up will be the Awards – The Hotel Oscars continue…

“We congratulate all the candidates who entered the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge 2020. In the face of really formidable odds, coming to the fore, determined to prove their mettle and go forward. They have done so superbly! For many this will be a memorable achievement that they will carry with them in years to come,” says Annette Kesler Editor, Showcook. 

The candidates participated in the challenging regional “COOK-OFF & SERVICE PRESENTATION” hosted at Capsicum Culinary Studio and International Hotel School, in Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal and Cape Town where the esteemed jury, industry veterans of the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge 2020, will nominate the young individuals and teams! Winners will be unveiled virtually in early 2021 at the Awards Ceremony which will take place at TAJ Cape Town. 

The brief was tough and thorough in an effort to challenge the candidates and bring out the very best of the talent. Wine Stewards are required to showcase their creativity and understanding of spirits with brilliant cocktails; Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky, Cruz Vodka, Gordon’s London Dry Gin, Scottish Leader Whisky, Three Ships Whisky, Van Ryn’s Brandy, and Klipdrift Premium Brandy, serving S. Pellegrino, Essenza, and Acqua Panna to the judges. While the winemaker’s choice wines; Allesverloren, Durbanville Hills, Fleur du Cap, Nederburg, Plaisir de Merle, Pongrácz and Zonnebloem inspire the team’s Wine Stewards and Chefs to pair a three-course menu using only the finest of local ingredients; South African Pork, Lancewood, Denny Mushrooms, Bio-Wheat, Rio Largo Olive Oil and Khoisan Sea Salt. Baristas prepare Avanti coffee in popular guises and Concierges face the challenge of identifying and writing up 15 top experiences for guests in their regional area. 

We were fortunate to have Lancewood’s excellent quality soft white cheeses as inspiration for our Pastry Chefs to produce really exquisite desserts. Watch this space for the winner of the ultimate ‘Lancewood Best Dessert’, to be announced in early 2021!  The Distell Inter Hotel Challenge Pastry Chef of the Year will be invited to experience a three-week internship in France, at the exquisite Château de la Creuzette with hosts Louis Jansen van Vuuren and Hardy Olivier with flights courtesy of Lancewood. For our winner, this is a ravishing prize where they will continue to broaden their culinary skills at the same time they will absorb incomparable French flair. #DistellIHC2020 

The winning Pastry Chef from the Cook-Off will be awarded the magnificent prize of the CANON EOS M6 MkII 📸 and will take the CANON Camera with them to France to chart their journey at Château de la Creuzette in Boussac, France.
See more on Instagram #CanonChallenge2020


Belmond Mount Nelson, Beverly Hills, De Hoek Country Hotel, Durban International Convention Centre, Southern Sun Elangeni and Maharani, Sun Time Square, Taj Cape Town, The Lanzerac Hotel & Spa, The Liz McGrath Collection, The President Hotel and Protea Hotel by Marriott Johannesburg Balalaika Sandton


A formidable and highly experienced panel of judges were lined up to judge all categories for the competition. 

Regional Food Judges headed by Hugh von Zahn included Brian McCune, the late Dorah Sitole, Fatima Stanley, Jac Kolver, Kyle Hickman and Lorraine Meaney.

Kitchen Evaluation: Julietta e Silva.

Wine Steward Judges: Sandy Harper and Jean Vincent Ridon 

Regional Food & Wine Pairing Judges: Aubrey Ngcungama, Germain Lehodey, Karen Bloom, Kristina Beuthner, Mark O’Flaherty and Marlvin Gwese

Baristas: Alison Douglas, Caroline Ncube, Leah Nabakwe, Paula Visser, Robert Shazi, Tarryn van der Toorn, and Wayne Abrahams of Avanti Coffee 

Concierge Judge: Horst Frehse


The Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge Wine Steward of the Year 2020’ will look forward to a brilliant travel experience with Distell  to Scotland with visits to Distell top distilleries; Deanston and Bunnahabhain. On the itinerary: France and an introduction to a world of wines in Bordeaux at La Cité du Vin. A two night stay in London at the superb The Montague on the Gardens with Red Carnation while working closely with the 67 Pall Mall Sommelier team – the most exclusive wine club in the heart of St James and an opportunity to work with Eric Zwiebel at the exquisite Summer Lodge in Somerset, England.   

In addition, the winner will receive a bursary from Distell to attend further training with the South African Sommeliers Association and Sommeliers Academy

The Diamond Works Institute will be awarding hand crafted gold lapel pins for each of the participating Wine Stewards.

The ‘Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge Chef of the Year 2020’ will enjoy a fabulous opportunity of a three week internship with TAJ HOTELS in India
Flights have been sponsored where possible by Distell.

Over the years winners have been invited to Long Beach Mauritius (2013), Taj Mahal Palace India (2014), the Shangri-La in Dubai (2015), The Alcron in Prague (2016), The Marriott Ritz-Carlton Hotel and JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai (2017), NH Collection Barbizon Palace hotel, D’Vijff Vlieghen and Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky (2018), and most recently with Minor Hotels in Bangkok; at Anantara Riverside Bangkok Hotel, Anantara Sathorn Bangkok Hotel and Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotels (2019) and assisted with the Michelin star chefs who participated in the World Gourmet Festival. 

The Purple Ribbon Award, a R10 000 cash prize from SA Pork for the best main course dish.

The Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge Pastry Chef of the Year 2020’ is invited to experience a three-week internship in France, the home of fine patisserie at the exquisite Château La Creuzette in Boussac with hosts Louis Jansen van Vuuren and Hardy Olivier. A ravishing prize where the winner will continue to broaden their culinary skills at the same time absorb incomparable French flair.

Flights courtesy of Lancewood plus R5 000 Cash prize.
In addition, the winner will receive a superb CANON EOS M6 MkII camera to chart their journey! #canontravels

The ‘Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge Baker of the Year 2020’ will receive a KitchenAid Food Processor while the hotel will receive a commercial mixer.  

The ‘Top Three Concierges’ will each receive exquisite diamond-studded, hand-crafted gold lapel pins by Diamond Works Institute.

‘The Top Three Baristas’ will be awarded with cash prizes by Avanti Coffee SA and prizes from KitchenAid Africa and AL&CD Ashley

The Man of the Match, finest imported linens from The Hall Collection

The Best Team The KitchenAid Africa Floating Trophy

The Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge General Manager of the Year will receive exquisite hand-crafted gold cufflinks by Diamond Works Institute.

The beneficiary of the International Hotel School R30 000 on-line Bursary, is designed to give a candidate the tools to further their business aspirations.

‘The Wonga Award’ recipient will receive a R30 000 Bursary from the South African Youth Development Agency to take an online Business course with the International Hotel School.  

“It is important to recognise that in life, opportunity changes everything. We are so proud of the opportunities that the Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge is providing to our young people. South Africa can only be a leader in a post-Covid world through the opportunities that it provides to its young people. South Africa’s goal to be a leader in hospitality is strengthened through programs such as these, critical pathways that equip young people with the skills and confidence necessary to compete and win in this modern-day economy.” – Waseem Carrim (CEO South African National Youth Development Agency) 

A splendid weekend at The Vineyard set in five acres of some of the most exquisite gardens will be the memorable historical destination for our Mentor of the Year. A rewarding prize for a valuable key player for the success of the team. 

Superb prizes for all the winners from iconic KitchenAid Africa and Dr Susanne Reuther, including KitchenAid Artisan Mixers, Gadget & Utensils, Ceramics and Bakeware – an impressive contribution and invaluable support over the years. 

Highly desirable and stunning prizes from AL&CD Ashley including world class superbly crafted SCANPAN the finest of Global Knives, Brabantia, Avanti, Bodum, Severin and Joseph Joseph. AL&CD Ashley is a company of great repute with gold standard exceptional home essentials.   

Meaningful bursaries from Distell, Sommeliers Academy, Cape Wine Academy, The South African National Youth Development Agency and the International Hotel School, designed to give candidates the tools to further their career aspirations.

Didactix has offered the ‘Scanpan Excellent Kitchen Practice’ duo of chefs and runners-up a one-day training programme and on-line examination to achieve the international certificate in the Highfield Qualification Level 2 Award in Food Safety & Catering.

Generous gifts from S.Pellegrino, Acqua Panna, Italian Delionline and Rio Largo Olive Oil. Meaningful books for life from Penguin Random House; best selling South African wine guide, The Platter’s Wine Guide; Award winning “A Passion for Pairing” by Jean-Vincent Ridon and Von Geusau Chocolates, the last word in delectable prizes!

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