Carlo Cracca. Antonio Carluccio. Gennaro Contaldo. Katy Ashworth. Emma Dean. Vichit Mukura. These are the ‘top international chefs’ Cape Town food lovers are being exposed to at the Good Food & Wine Show at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, augmented with a handful of light-weight (with the exception of Chef David Higgs) mainly TV cooking program local cooks! As Cape Town is the centre of gourmet gastronomy, surely exhibition organisers Fiera Milano could have done better?
Christine Cashmore has organised the Good Food & Wine Show for years, and sold her company to Fiera Milano last year. She is certainly still involved, as I saw her at the show yesterday. She is tough to deal with, changing PR companies every year! Every year the criticism about the Show has grown, the big food producers no longer bothering to participate, and sample their products. The emphasis this year was clearly TV cooking shows, and the invited chefs (mainly) had a link to a TV program, in cooking at the Celebrity Chefs Theatre (how did Kamini Pather slip in here, as controversial winner of MasterChef Season 2?), the kykNET Kook Teater, the Spar Food Theatre, and the Selati Sweet Treats Theatre.
The main focus of the Celebrity Chefs Theatre was cooking demos, and the program was hard to read on the website, and even harder to read in the Theatre with the purple flashing lights whilst we were waiting for the (running late) shows to start. There was no indication in the program which dish(es) the chefs would prepare, a number of them having multiple appearances. Theatre performances were by Chefs Emma Dean (the most recent MasterChef Australia Season 5 winner); Carlo Cracca (good looking on the PR shots holding two eggs, only speaks Italian, although he advocates chefs to travel to learn from other chefs and the cuisine of other countries – his Ristorante Cracca has two Michelin stars, previously on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, MasterChef Italy judge, and about to join Hell’s Kitchen Italia); Marinda Engelbrecht and Herman Lensing (VOORSKOOT en Lipstiek, he Sarie Kos Food Editor and cookbook writer, she a Kokkedoor Season 1 finalist); Vichit Mukura of the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok (celebrity chef?); Siba Mtongana (Food Network show ‘Siba’s Table’); Leandri van der Wat (MasterChef Season 2 number 2); Kamini Pather (controversial MasterChef Season 2 winner); Katy Ashworth (CBeebies presenter on ‘I can Cook‘); Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo (presenters of BBC ‘Two Greedy Italians‘ show); Tiaan Langenegger and Mynhardt Joubert (winners of Kokkedoor Season 1); Charly’s Cake Angels; Cass Abrahams (now working with Robertsons due to poor availability of Reuben Robertsons Riffel); Deena Naidoo (winner of MasterChef Season 1); and best of all David Higgs (Eat Out 2014 Top Chef, at five hundred at Saxon hotel). I know that Seline van der Wat (MasterChef SA Season 2 number 3) was also doing demos, but her name is not in the program.
I attended the ‘Two Greedy Italians‘ show yesterday – with my media pass I could attend any of the sessions, so I landed up there coincidentally. I must admit that I had never heard of them or their BBC productions before. I couldn’t believe how two respected and aged chefs could act like silly clowns, and crack stupid male jokes to an audience of 99,9% females (e.g. blow the resting pasta, and blow and blow other things too), and they packed up laughing at their own joke, fired on by Ben Alcott, who was the speaker at a conference I attended on Wednesday, a me-me Oz who owns Damn Fine Productions, who was on the stage with them too. At least the two chefs can speak good Italglish (better than Giorgio Nava can!), compared to their compatriot Chef Carlo Cracco, who addressed us in Italian at the Conference in Wednesday! I walked out after watching them make basic pasta – not sure what the excited ladies paid to see them cracking jokes, being silly, and making some food incidentally! One could barely see them on the stage because the cameramen are right at the cooking desk, blocking them, so one has to look at the screen to see them! One wonders what their antics do for the sponsor brands Woolworths and Robertsons (another joke, as Woolies does not sell Robertsons spices, but that’s a story for another day…!).
The kykNET Kook Teater stand probably was far better to go to, entrance being free, and the chefs performing being local, down to earth, and not needing to be banal to create enjoyment for their audience! Performers here are Chefs Nic van Wyk (Kokkedoor judge), Hetta van Deventer Terblanche (Kokkedoor judge, left in photograph), Jo Fritz and Arthur Wildskut (participants in Kokkedoor Season 2); Herman Lensing (Sarie Kos Food Editor); Tiaan Langenegger and Mynhardt Joubert (winners Kokkedoor Season 1); Ronel Theron and Le Roux van Vuuren (Kokkedoor Season 2 Finalists); Westley Muller of Towerbosch (Eat Out Best Country Style Restaurant 2013); Anél Potgieter (Eat Out Blogger of the Year 2013 and 2014); Alet van der Westhuizen (Finalist Kokkedoor Season 2); Carmen Niehaus (Huisgenoot/YOU Food Editor); and Linde Watson (Kokkedoor Season 2 Finalist).
The wine estates were few and far between, hidden away amongst the demo stands. In the program I saw the names of Arumdale, Baleia Bay Wines, Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate, Cambury Wines, Lammershoek, La Bourgogne, KWV, Louisvale Wines, Madonna Wines, Paardenkloof, Orange River Wine Cellars, Simonsvlei, Stellenbosch Vineyards, Solms Delta, Vergenoegd, Vrede en Lust, and Welgemeend, in a supposed ‘Wine Route’ section, I saw from the program, but did not see them in the hall at all. From the program too I saw that some pop-up restaurants, including Seelan’s, Tao’s Chinese Kitchen, Vandiar’s Indian Cuisine (from Durban), and Redies Chinese Restaurant were at the show, but I did not see them, being tucked away in the far right corner beyond the vast Celebrity Chefs Theatre stand, which drowned everything else in the hall.
In writing about my experience of the banal Two Greedy Italians on Facebook last night, and having seen a Facebook post on Thursday as well, I was surprised at the amount of negativity towards the Good Food & Wine Show. There was little good food (dry and hard cheese straw at French Connection bakery R10; excessively expensive droë wors at R325 a kilo!), and little good wine, the main focus clearly being the food theatre now. The food highlight may have been the Rentokil Pestaurant, at which they are serving an insect gourmet meal today, and offered bug snacks yesterday! A funny rule for the media pass holders was that they should stand if the venues were fully booked with paid guests, showing that the organisers have no clue of media relations and PR! The entrance fee and price of parking are further off-putting factors to the public.
POSTSCRIPT 1/6: Wired Communications has just released the awards for best stand design at the Good Food & Wine Show Cape Town:
Most interactive: SPAR Food Theatre
Most innovative: Rentokil Pestaurant
Best speciality product:
Gold Bella Vita Farm
Silver Wilde at Heart
Bronze The Charcuterie
Best designer stand:
Gold Fratelli Foods
Silver De’Longhi Coffee
Bronze Fry Group Foods
Fine Wines, Beers and Spirits:
Gold Klawer Cellars
Silver Castle Milk Stout
Bronze Arumdale Wines
Sustainability: The VOC Vegetable Garden – Company’s Garden
Best Food Truck: Meisies Kitchen
Good Food & Wine Show, Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town. 29 May – 1 June. www.goodfoodwineshow.co.za Twitter: @GoodFoodSA
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: WhaleCottage