2021 Distell Inter-Hotel challenge results show hospitality skills boost across SA

By: Distell on 10 December 2021

The results of the 2021 Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge show just how much more diverse the skilled sector of the hospitality industry is becoming, opening the way for far greater inclusion, according to Distell’s HR and Corporate Affairs Director, André Opperman.

The Challenge, established in 2013, develops and promotes skills in wining and dining service as well as in cuisine. Contestants are exposed to specialist skills provided by the Cape Wine Academy, the Sommelier Academy, mixologists, top chefs and bakers, baristas and concierges.

Apart from the training the candidates receive during their participation in the Challenge, the contest also provides major category prize winners with the opportunity to travel abroad for several weeks. There they work alongside world-renowned members in their field, from sommeliers and distillers to patisserie chefs and members of management at leading hotels.

“The intention of the challenge is to build specialist skills across the hospitality industry while exposing winners to international best-in-class practice in their area of expertise. These are absolutely foundational steps in advancing greater inclusivity in our tourism sector and that will aid its recovery,” he added.

“We can be particularly proud of the broad geographic spread evident amongst this year’s contestants. It tells us loudly and clearly that hospitality expertise and innovation are not just limited to the metropoles. There is a fast-rising level of skills evident in country areas too.

“As importantly, the quality of work assessed by the judges, the range of skills displayed and the ingenuity and commitment of contestants this year was absolutely outstanding. It says to us that culinary, wine service and hospitality talent is flourishing across a wider swathe of South Africa than ever before.”

Opperman said winners had come from private lodges, boutique hotels, as well as from larger, internationally and locally owned hotel groups.

“This represents a healthy, well-balanced cross-section of hospitality in the country. Many of these establishments endured immense hardship under the pandemic but remained undeterred in their commitment to excellence. That really is very good news for Tourism SA.”

Food doyenne and challenge co-founder Annette Kesler added that wine and cocktail service staff and chefs showed a high degree of professionalism matched by an awareness of new consumer priorities around health, wellness, and sustainability. “We were very impressed by their diligence and focus as much as by their awareness of changing needs. This year’s inventive dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, imaginative wine pairings and original cocktails showcasing local botanicals and other flavours combine to make South Africa a highly attractive country to visit.”

She said the judges were both thrilled and moved by the palpable desire to succeed amongst so many entrants: “Their focus and application, their ambition and dynamism bode very well for the future of South African hospitality in promising visitors a top-quality experience.”

She said the prize for the top-performing wine steward, Sylvain Kapompa of Ellerman House in Bantry Bay, Cape Town, included working alongside the award-winning sommelier team at London’s famous 67 Pall Mall Club, and onto Red Carnation’s exquisite Summer Lodge Country House Hotel and Restaurant in Evershot, Dorset, educational visits to top-ranked whisky distilleries Bunnahabhain and Deanston in Scotland, as well as to Bordeaux’s La Cité du Vin (City of Wine) museum in France. He has also earned bursaries from both the Sommeliers Academy and Cape Wine Academy to continue his studies.

Chef of the Year, Asanda Khanyile of the Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani in Durban will spend three weeks interning with Minor Hotels, at a destination to be confirmed in 2022.  

Pastry Chef of the Year, Prenolin Naidoo from the Beverly Hills in Durban receives a cash prize of R10 000 and will spend three weeks interning in France at the Château La Creuzette in Boussac, with flights sponsored by Lancewood. 

Steadfast sponsors that travel with the Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge include Lancewood, Denny, S.Pellegrino, Acqua Panna, Sanpellegrino Sparkling Italian Drinks, Bio-Wheat, Rio Largo Olive Oil, ClemenGold®, LemonGold®, Avanti Coffee and Lurpak. 

 

The winners are:

 

1. DISTELL INTER-HOTEL CHALLENGE WINE STEWARD OF THE YEAR 2021: 

1st: Sylvain Kapompa (Ellerman House) (Pongrácz & Amarula)
2nd: Tapiwa Jamu (Ivory Manor Boutique Hotel) (Pongrácz & Klipdrift Premium)
3rd: Nkosinathi Dube (The Oyster Box) (Zonnebloem & Klipdrift Premium)

 

2. MOST PROMISING WINE STEWARD: Odwa Gongo (The Capital, 15 on Orange) (Nederburg & Richelieu Brandy)

 

3. MOST UP & COMING WINE STEWARD ‘THE WONGA AWARD’: Manduleli Solani (Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel, Cape Town) (Fleur du Cap & Three Ships)

 

4. EXQUISITE SERVICE: Lethukuthula Ngubane (The Beverly Hills) (Durbanville Hills & Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky)

 

5. BEST COCKTAIL:

1st: Manduleli Solani (Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel, Cape Town) (Three Ships Whisky & Sanpellegrino Aranciata Rossa)
2nd: Salem Leba (TAJ Cape Town) (Scottish Leader Whisky & Sanpellegrino Aranciata Rossa)
3rd: Odwa Gongo (The Capital, 15 on Orange) (Richelieu Brandy & Sanpellegrino Aranciata Rossa)
 

6. ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE: Nomawonga Tibe (Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani) 

 

Cape Wine Academy top 10% results:
 1. Nomawonga Tibe (Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani) 100%
 2. Prudance Ndlovu (Hartford House) 100%
 3. Mzothule Mhlongo (Hartford House) 98%
 4. Prince Mashatola (Johannesburg Marriott Hotel Melrose Arch) 98%
 5. Nkosinathi Xaba (The Oyster Box) 97%
 6. Lethukuthula Ngubane (The Beverly Hills) 97%
 7. Monique du Preez (Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel) 95%
 8. Mboniseni Ntshangase (Hartford House) 95%
 9. Nombuso Mabunda (Sun Time Square) 92%
 10. Eid Dube (De Hoek Country Hotel) 92%
 11. Londeka Mkize (The Beverly Hills) 92%
 12. Wandile Mncwango (International Hotel School) 92%

 

Sommeliers Academy top 10% results:
 1. Monique du Preez (Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel) 96%
 2. Nomawonga Tibe (Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani) 95%
 3. Liyanda Madikane (Cape Town Hotel School) 95%
 4. Tapiwa Jamu (The Ivory Boutque Hotel) 93%
 5. Mzothule Mhlongo (Hartford House) 93%
 6. Sylvain Kapompa (Ellerman House) 91%
 7. Prince Mashatola (Johannesburg Marriott Hotel Melrose Arch) 91%
 8. Nobuhle Maphumulo (International Hotel School) 91%
 9. Zanelda Kok (The Independent Institute of Education - The IIE School of Hospitality and Service Management) 90%
 10. Aphelele Shezi (International Hotel School) 90%

 

7. DISTELL INTER-HOTEL CHALLENGE CHEF OF THE YEAR 2021

1st: Asanda Khanyile (Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani)
2nd: Riantha Chetty (Beverly Hills) 
3rd: Lisa Tauro (The President Hotel) 

 

8. MOST PROMISING CHEF: Nthombenhle Zuma (Hartford House) 

 

9. SCANPAN EXCELLENT KITCHEN PRACTICE: Chef Siyabonga Sithole & assistant chef Mfundo Gcwensa (Durban ICC)

 

10. BEST MENU PRESENTATION: Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani Team 

 

11. ULTIMATE LANCEWOOD PASTRY CHEF OF THE YEAR 2021

1st: Prenolin Naidoo (Beverly Hills)
2nd: Sindisiwe Mbili (Durban ICC)
3rd: Chelsea Smith (Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel, Cape Town)

 

12. MOST PROMISING PASTRY CHEF: Shanice Roberts (Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani)

 

13. DISTELL INTER-HOTEL CHALLENGE BIO-WHEAT BAKER OF THE YEAR 2021

1st: Chadwin Simmers (The Vineyard)
2nd: Kay-lee Nieuwoudt (Grootbos Private Nature Reserve) 
3rd: Nokwasi Gigaba (Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani)

 

14. KITCHENAID AFRICA MOST PROMISING BIO-WHEAT BAKER: Kirstin Hellemann (Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel, Cape Town)

 

15. BARISTAS: Avanti Coffee SA Western Cape

1st: Sisipho Dumse (I Love Coffee)
2nd:
Lulama Njamela (Ellerman House)
3rd:
Jack Bednall (Grootbos Private Nature Reserve) 

 

16. BARISTAS: Avanti Coffee SA Gauteng & North West Province

1st: Prince Zondo (InterContinental Johannesburg O.R.Tambo Airport)
2nd: Kagiso Mudau (De Hoek Country Hotel)
3rd: Grace Meloko (Sun City Resort)

 

17. BARISTAS: Avanti Coffee SA KwaZulu-Natal

1st: Thobelani Zaca (Hartford House)
2nd: Lebogang Mahoko (Sun Coast Towers)
3rd: Philile Ngongoma (Beverly Hills)

 

18. BEST FOOD & WINE PAIRING: Dishes using Lancewood, Denny, Bio-Wheat and Rio Largo Olive Oil

 

Starter: Chef JC Fourie & Wine Steward Fortunate Shambamuto (Grootbos Private Nature Reserve)

Open Ravioli whipped smoke egg yolk, roasted garlic and parmesan ricotta, raw beetroot salad, pangritata and an Allesverloren Beurre Rouge ~ Allesverloren Tinta Barocca

Main: Chef Nishaad Samaai & Wine Steward Ronald Muchechemere (The Vineyard)

Savoury oat risotto with Denny oyster mushrooms, shitake and button with a hazelnut vinaigrette, exotic mushroom cracker, avocado crème, and garlic truffle labnar ~ Durbanville Hills Collectors Reserve The Lighthouse Merlot 2018

Dessert: Pastry Chef Phumla Zakwa & Wine Steward Prudance Ndlovu (Hartford House)

Citrus butternut cake, pistachio yoghurt mousse, glass tuille, LemonGold curd ice cream and blueberry gel ~ Pongrácz Noble Nectar

 

19. SHOWCOOK (WO)MAN OF THE MATCH: Maretha Langenhoven (Hartford House)

 

20. MENTOR OF THE YEAR: Shaun Munro (Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani)

 

21. THE DISTELL INTER-HOTEL CHALLENGE CONCIERGE OF THE YEAR 2021

1st: Muchi Gubwe (Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel, Cape Town)
2nd: Siphokazi Mhambi (The President Hotel)
3rd: Sihle Ngubane (Beverly Hills)

 

22. THE KITCHENAID AFRICA BEST TEAM AWARD Presented by Dr Susanne Reuther of KitchenAid Africa: Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel, Cape Town

 

23. THE DISTELL INTER-HOTEL CHALLENGE GENERAL MANAGER OF THE YEAR 2021: Roy Davies (The Vineyard)