Yesterday I attended the launch of Yumcious Café in the DeVille Centre in Durbanville, the second restaurant of Chef Jenny Morris, her first one being the very successful Yumcious Café in the Cape Quarter.
Chef Jenny Morris is loved by all, and has a large following, as was evidenced by the large attendance of the launch and dinner last night. We were welcomed with cocktails, made with Beefeater gin, as well as with Diemersdal Sauvignon Blanc 2018 and Pinotage 2017.
I was very honored to be seated with James Vos, Member of Parliament and DA Shadow Minister of Tourism, his wife Marsha, and Diemersdal wines marketer Charnè Meyer. Charnè was very excited about the Diemersdal Pinotage Reserve having been announced as an ABSA Top 10 Pinotage earlier in the day. She and James toasted to the Pinotage success.
While we were waiting for the speech and ribbon-cutting, James and I started talking about Tourism. Where I have been going, I have heard doom and gloom from both restaurant and accommodation owners, about business in the current winter, which has been devastating. What I like about James is that he is honest and acknowledged that it is tough. He was quick to be positive too, and told me that ‘Day Zero’, a concept devised by the City of Cape Town, had instilled fear amongst travelers and tour operators, which led to travelers cancelling their trips, and tour operators offering their clients alternative destinations to travel to. Despite the negative effect of the Day Zero scaremongering, the benefits have been as follows:
# the travel industry has become more resilient, becoming super water wise in its operations, and thus enhancing its environmental responsibility.
# a roadshow by SA Tourism and Cape Town Tourism has connected with key local and international markets, communicating that Cape Town and the Western Cape is open for business, and encouraging travelers and tour operators to not change their travel plans, as this could lead to job losses of employees in this industry, and to small businesses going out of business.
# a concerted effort is being made to maintain the ranking of Cape Town as the number one Business Tourism destination in Africa. James told me proudly that 33 conferences have been booked for Cape Town for 2019, and he is particularly excited about the booking of the International Space Conference for 2020, with an estimated 1000 high-power delegates from around the world.
# Leisure Tourism is making a come-back, James advised.
# James also proudly shared the admirable turnaround by the citizens of Cape Town in saving water through their changed water usage, achieved in a very short period of time.
James also told me that he is pushing for e-visas, to give Tourism a boost, by using technology. He would like to see the requirement of unabridged birth certificates being scrapped. The new electronic visas will reduce the turnaround time in applying for a visa, they will be cheaper to issue, and will attract more tourists due to the ease of getting a visa.
But the most exciting Tourism news he shared with me was that the new 3,5 km runway at Cape Town International will commence construction next year, which will allow A380 aircraft to land. All the environmental requirements for the runway have been met. New buildings will be built, and the migration section will be revamped. This is a R5 billion project, to take five years to complete, and is certain to boost tourism. James also shared how well the Cruise Terminal is doing in attracting cruise liners to our city, and he praised the V&A Waterfront for being ahead of schedule with this project. This has put Cape Town on the map for world cruises, he said.
We ended the conversation on a political note, when I asked him about the 2019 election, and the effect of the Patricia de Lille controversy. He said that the DA will have to reassure its voters, and reconnect with them again. The DA’s voters are uncertain and unhappy, but it is the best party by far, he said confidently.
James was asked to cut the ribbon to signify the opening of the new Yumcious. https://www.facebook.com/173858875994646/posts/1774636109250240/
The two most glamorous guests of the evening were Samarie Smith, the Marketing Manager of Benguela Cove Collection in Hermanus, with a new hairstyle and colour (in the photograph with TV chef Anel Potgieter), and the always dapper-dressed Aubrey Ngcungama, whom I had bumped into 24 hours earlier in Camps Bay.
Just before the food buffet was open for the guests to try the Yumcious salads and cooked dishes, Chef Jenny proudly introduced each one of her staff, expressing the specialness of each one, and her love for him or her. We were also entertained by Dr Darren Green, not only a medical doctor who travels to the Antarctic to do duty there, but who sings magnificently as well.
We were treated to quiches, artichoke and mushroom salad, Caprese salad with boccacini, avocado and roasted chickpea salad, potato salad, prawn salad, mussels and Norwegian salmon salad, Gnocchi, rare roast beef sirloin, pork belly and crackling (one of the Yumcious favorites), meatballs, macaroni cheese, butter chicken, and lovely olive breads. For desserts the red velvet cake, chocolate cake, passion fruit cheesecake, and carrot cake were hard to resist, and we were allowed to order coffees. The Yumcious Nespresso machine makes beautiful instant froth, looking like a whipped marshmallow on top of my dry cappuccino.
A personal highlight of the evening was chatting to Chef Evan Coosner, and we laughed about him having bought a Spek & Bone sign from Bertus Basson, which he displays in his home kitchen, in reaction to my controversial review of the restaurant. He is a character with a strong personality, outspoken, passionate about the restaurant industry, and critical of the expectations of restaurant patrons. We spoke about restaurant reviews, and he feels that restaurants should receive a 48 hour window to respond to the Review before the blogger posts it. He also feels that dietary requirements open door, Burrata, boccashould be disclosed to restaurants 48 hours before the meal, so that chefs can be prepared for the special requirements. Chef Evan has resigned from the Open Door/Burrata/Bocca restaurant group.
Last, but not least, was the art displayed at Yumcious, on loan from Palette Fine Art Gallery, and for sale at the restaurant. The bronze nickel sculptures by Lydia da Silva attracted my attention in particular. A different form of art is the hydroponic structure outside, in which vegetables have been planted, perhaps not enough for the restaurant, but more such structures can be added. It is watered with the water from the ice buckets.
It was a long event, but thoroughly enjoyable, and very informative. Durbanville residents are excited about the new Yumcious eatery, which charges the same, and has a similar menu to that offered at the Cape Quarter branch of Yumcious.
Yumcious Durbanville, DeVille Centre, corner Wellington and Durban Roads, Durbanville. Tel 065 827 7777 www.yumcious.co.za Twitter:@YumciousCafe @JennyMorrisChef Instagram: @yumciouscafe @jennymorrischef
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein