Headline winners in the 2022 Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge


Headline winners in the 2022 Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge will soon be flying to Ireland, France and the US to take up their international mentorship part of their extensive prizes. For each of the three involved, it will be a life-changing experience. This is according to co-organiser Chania Morritt-Smith of Showcook.com who, with food doyenne Annette Kesler, conceived the annual challenge a decade ago. 

Distell has been the leading sponsor of the national contest from the start. “We’re so proud and excited to be supporting the challenge, for the 10th consecutive year. It provides an important platform for building and honing much-needed hospitality skills in a country where tourism is a major contributor to GDP,” said the company’s acting director of corporate affairs, Eric Leong Son.   

Earlier this year, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) forecast that South African travel and tourism would play a big role in driving the country’s national economic recovery over the next decade. This year alone, the sector’s contribution to the national economy was expected to reach 4,3%, after falling to 3,1% during the pandemic. 

Morritt-Smith confirmed that the sector was showing encouraging signs of growth. “Anecdotally, from challenge participants, we know the recovery is well underway. Hotels, lodges, restaurants and bars in the major metropoles are reporting that they are once again frequently trading at full capacity. It’s early days yet but the signs are there. We are at the point where the industry must now really gear up for the growth that’s coming.” 

WTTC’s Economic Impact Report (EIR) has projected that the sector will grow at an average annual rate of 7,6% over the next decade, contributing over R555bn to GDP (7,4% of the total economy), while generating over 800 000 new jobs. Before the pandemic, travel and tourism had contributed 6,4% to the total economy, according to the EIR. 

Morritt-Smith said from the outset, the premise of the awards had been to transfer skills and create career opportunities for talented and committed young people. “Over the years, we have given more accent to training competitors to prepare for the awards, as both a motivator and to raise standards.” 

Focus and training were given to such areas as wine service, food and wine pairing, mixology, cheffing, baking, barista, kitchen and concierge skills, while building eco-sustainability awareness, she said. 

“We would never have come this far without the support and expertise of South Africa’s foremost hospitality general managers. Mentorship starts with interest and enthusiasm at the top. By putting training and support systems in place, top management enables goal-driven staff who, in turn bring others into the network to enrich the talent pool.” 

Distell’s Leong Son added that one of the most validating features of the awards had been the way prize winners committed to mentor and encourage their colleagues, passing the baton of excellence to a new generation each year.

Meanwhile, Waseem Carrim, CEO of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) commented: “The NYDA is an honoured and proud partner of the Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge. The tourism & hospitality industry is a critical engine for the growth of the South African economy particularly post the pandemic. The Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge fosters amongst young people the passion and energy for the industry, provides space for nurturing and growth and inculcates a spirit of excellence. We extend our support to all the youth participating and wish them the greatest success on their journeys.” 

Euan McGlashan, CEO of Valor Hospitality, one of the partners of the challenge, says: “We are incredibly proud to be working with the Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge, bringing to light the amazing opportunities globally within the hospitality industry. It’s an incredible career choice full of diversity. Encouraging participation in competitions of this quality, not just to find winners, but to encourage departmental team members who are true enthusiasts and ambassadors, to share their skills and abilities is critical for our future as an industry. We must pay attention to these stars of our industry and ensure the prizes offer global travel and experience of other cultures; not to mention experiencing new ways to execute and take those ideas back to their own workplaces. Well done to our South African industry legend, Annette Kesler for continuing to drive awareness and participation along with the tireless work and efforts of Chania Morritt-Smith. These two ladies are worthy of all our praise for giving back to an industry that needs promotion more than ever!”

“The role of business is to give back and to do good. It is not only about keeping prices down and fighting with suppliers to keep prices low, but also helping make changes that affect people. For anyone starting out in business, it is important to understand that to be successful you’ve got to care about your community, care about your society and care about your people. It doesn’t happen the other way around, hence our motto at Pick n Pay, which we live by in everything we do: ‘Doing Good is Good Business‘ 

We are so proud as Pick n Pay to partner with the Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge for 2023. We believe it a phenomenal initiative that has a proven track record and its success is evident in the brilliant young talent that are gainfully employed all around South Africa making a difference for themselves and others around them, all as a result of their participation in the Inter-Hotel Challenge. We are so honoured to be part of this journey of making a difference in the lives of South Africans who need the opportunity to prove themselves and their worth. I want to wish everyone participating this year, everything of the very best. This is opportunity of a life time, take it with both hands,” says Vaughan Pierce, Executive Pick n Pay.

This year’s winning wine steward of the year is Pieter Bekker of the Taj Hotel in Cape Town, while the title of the most promising wine steward of the year goes to Hazell Mutungura of Pretoria’s Ivory Manor Boutique Hotel. The most up and coming wine steward and winner of the Wonga Award is Anthony Andrew ‘Jeremiah’ Govender of the Beverly Hills Hotel in Durban. 

Bekker is one of three winners of trips abroad. He will spend ten days interning at Ireland’s The Lodge at Ashford Castle that forms part of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection. He also wins Sommelier Academy, South African Sommeliers’ Association and Cape Wine Academy courses, as do the most promising and up and coming stewards. 

Chef of the year, Senzo Mlambo of Southern Sun’s boutique hotel 54 on Bath, will intern with the global Valor Hospitality group, travelling to the US.  

Pastry chef of the year, Eon le Roux of Southern Sun’s Elangeni & Maharani, will be interning in central France for three weeks at the Château de la Creuzette in Boussac. 

The full list of prize winners 
and their prizes, appears here


#Distell #InterHotelChallenge2022 #Showcook 

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