[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Described as the Oscars of the Hotel World, the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge celebrated its 5th annual event this year. The event not only showcases the fantastic talent that’s present in South Africa’s hotels, but it creates a public platform for creating an environment of mentorship for the country’s hospitality industry.

The 5th annual Distell Inter Hotel Challenge were announced at a glittering gala awards dinner at the Southern Sun Cape Sun. Attended by Richard Rushton (MD Distell) and Volker Heiden (Area Vice President, Protea Hotels of Marriott International), the cream of South Africa’s hoteliers, chefs, sommeliers and vintners as well as top companies that supply the hospitality industry.

The initiative championed by Distell, is hotly contested as hotels around South Africa present their protégés. The candidates compete in different categories over a period of months culminating in a glittering gala event where the winners of the 2017 Challenge are announced!

In the Chef Categories

  • Best Chef 2017: Eugene Ramcharan from “Beverly Hills”
  • Best Chef 1st Runner Up: Gizelle Els from “NH The Lord Charles”
  • Best Chef 2nd Runner Up: Samkelo Hlophe from “One&Only, Cape Town”
  • Most Promising Chef 2017: Sive Godena from “Cape Town International Convention Centre”
  • Best Starter: Nicholas Freitas from “The Palazzo”
  • Best Main Course: Marcas Hendry from “Belmond Mount Nelson”
  • Lancewood Best Dessert: Andile Ndlovu from “Hartford House”
  • Best Presentation: Litha Salimani from “Southern Sun Waterfront”
  • ‘Scanpan Excellent Kitchen Practice’ Award: Andile Ndlovu from “Hartford House”
  • Best Bread Baker: Togara Mabharani from “Belmond Mount Nelson”
  • Best Bread Baker 1st Runner Up: Cecelia Adams from “Cape Grace”
  • Best Bread Baker 2nd Runner Up: Brian Baumann from “One&Only, Cape Town”
  • Showcook ‘Man of the Match’: Shaun Munro from “Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani”
  • Best Team: “NH The Lord Charles” and “The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa”
  • To celebrate the fifth anniversary BRITISH AIRWAYS is flying the winning Executive Chef Tony Kocke, Beverly Hills to spend a fabulous weekend at The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa!
  • Hotel Awards: The Best Table Decoration won by “Sun International Table Bay” Cape Town, was for their sensational representation reflecting the ethos of the rich floral kingdom of South Africa. The Most Glamorous Table was “Protea Hotel Edward”, Durban and The Table We Would Wish To Dine At, “One&Only” Cape Town.

In the Wine Steward Category:

  • Best Wine Steward 2017: Michelle Swart from “NH The Lord Charles” representing Allesverloren & Van Ryn’s
  • Best Wine Steward 1st Runner Up: Alvezo Abrahams from “Cape Grace” representing Fleur du Cap and Bisquit Dubouché et Cie
  • Best Wine Steward 2nd Runner Up: Melikhaya ‘Grant’ Sondezi from “One&Only Cape Town’ representing Durbanville Hills and Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky
  • ‘Most Promising’ Wine Steward: Nkululeko Khohlokoane from the “Cape Town International Convention Centre” representing Pongrácz and Monis.
  • ‘Most Up & Coming’ Wine Steward: (‘The Wonga Prize’): Marie Manyoha from “The Palace at the Lost City’ representing Fleur du Cap and Black Bottle

Apart from receiving sought after prizes, the winning candidates use this spotlight to springboard into the industry. Most candidates go on to take on jobs that fast-track them into key positions in hotels, safari lodges, restaurants and other parts of South Africa’s hospitality industry. Some go on to successful careers internationally, becoming ambassadors for our hospitality industry. The hotels regard the Challenge as a platform for their own skills upliftment programmes. The culminating gala evening is an opportunity to offer tangible recognition and public acknowledge of their own candidates. Many use the programme to ultimately promote from within.

Partners of Showcook, Annette Kesler and Chania Morritt-Smith, the high-energy organisers and founders of the Inter Hotel Challenge initiative, believe the most important achievement of the annual event is that the hotels encourage and mentor young talent in an industry that plays a crucial role in the South Africa’s tourist industry.

“The hotel industry is the heartbeat of tourism,” says Annette Kesler. “It is essential that we maintain the high standards of our hospitality industry but we also have to make sure those same high standards are maintained going into the future.”

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