05 Apr 2018
The Table Bay rises to the 2018 Distell Inter Hotel Challenge
Sun International’s The Table Bay in Cape Town rises to the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge again in 2018. The multi-faceted challenge is dubbed as the “hotel Oscars” and has become recognized as a platform for highlighting the talent and expertise of trainees, and giving them an opportunity to shine. The initiative championed by Distell, is hotly contested as hotels around South Africa present their protégés. Representing The Table Bay in the 2018 challenge are Commis Chef, Connor Dirks, on the culinary side and Lounge Supervisor, Vusumzi Makani, on the wine and beverage elements.
“Qualified mentorship, focused staff development, and career path mapping are emphasised at The Table Bay to harness, nurture and retain culinary talent. It is through the mentorship and on-the-job training so enthusiastically offered by the hotel’s senior chefs staff that culinary teams benefit most meaningfully.
“We believe that employees should also be given opportunities to showcase their talent and innovation on external platforms like the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge which recognise and reward innovation in the culinary field. We are excited to have The Table Bay represented in this exciting challenge once again and we wish our candidates every success as they unleash their creativity in the series of workshops and cook offs that lie ahead,” says General Manager of The Table Bay, Joanne Selby.
The stakes are high for the participants in this year’s challenge which culminates with the gala awards dinner at the Belmond Nelson on 4 August 2018. There are awards presented in various categories but it is the winning chef and wine steward awards that Dirks and Makani have their hearts set on. The winning chef will enjoy a three-week internship with NH Hotels in Amsterdam while the wining wine steward will travel to London and then Scotland to visit Distell’s top distilleries. The overall winning Wine Steward will also receive a full bursary from Distell to attend the training courses from the South African Sommeliers Association. The Level Three SASA Advanced Sommelier training and examination is in conjunction with the ASI Diploma.
Both Dirks and Makani are excited about the participating in the 2018 Distell Inter Hotel Challenge.
Says Dirks: “I feel honored that my seniors have entrusted me to represent The Table Bay in the 2018 Distell Inter Hotel Challenge. It shows that they see potential in me. I look forward to the challenges that we will face in the coming weeks and believe that there are great opportunities for me to learn from them. This industry has so much to teach you if you just have the willingness to learn.”
He joined The Table Bay in July 2016 when he began his training. He has since completed his level two diploma in professional cookery, food safety and an advanced diploma in CTH.
“I have only been in the industry for a mere two years but I have learned so much and honed my skills during this time. I am inspired by food and also by the people I work with. They are always willing to give advice and honest criticism where it is needed. This helps me grow as a chef and as a person.”
Commenting on being chosen to represent The Table Bay in the 2018 challenge, Makani says: “Participating in the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge will give me great exposure to different aspects of the food and beverage industry. I feel honoured to be competing in this competition as it opens another door for my development and growth. Being that it is my first time participating in the challenge, I am quite nervous but I am ready for the challenge and will make sure to do my homework.”
Makani, who hails from the Eastern Cape, moved to Cape Town in 2010 where he got the opportunity to join the KWV Khula project which is aimed at supporting young South Africans who have passion for the hospitality industry. He finished the course with good results, achieving 86% on his final exam. This helped him secure a scholarship from KWV to study Hospitality Management as a career with the International Hotel School. After graduating, he travelled to Dubai to be part of the grand opening of the Conrad Dubai Hotel. On his return to South Africa, he worked at another luxury hotel in Cape Town before joining The Table Bay in January this year.
“What attracted me to Sun International are the opportunities for learning and growth. I believe I am in the right spot at the right time to advance and mature in my career.”