Category Archives: Hayden Quinn: South Africa

2014: the Top 10 Blog highlights, Banting beats them all! (reposted)

Woolworths-CarbClever-better-pic-via-email-207x300Our WhaleTales Blog and Whale Cottage Portfolio website received a make-over this year (i.e. 2014) by 406Media, and despite an error severely hampering Google’s ability to find our blogposts (since repaired), we achieved more than 300000 unique pageviews in the past twelve months, or around 30000 unique pageviews per month.  We are grateful to our loyal readers for visiting our Blog so regularly.

Our Top 10 Blogpost list, based on Google Analytic numbers of unique pageviews in the past 12 months, is as follows: Continue reading →

Grass Consumer Action Sweet Service and Pick ‘n Pay Sour Service Awards!

Grass logoThe Sweet Service Award goes to the Grass Consumer Action group, which is keeping retailers generally, and Woolworths specifically, on their toes in respect of the humane treatment of their suppliers’ animals, and the ethical and honest labeling of products.  Ayrshire milk and cream has been misleadingly labeled, and falsely described as organic, just because (only half of)  the cows eat grass; products containing GMO ingredients should be better identified and those ingredients removed;  the Sustainability series ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa  has been a greenwash of Woolworths’ misleading consumer communication; and more.  Every time Grass challenges Woolworths on an ethical issue, the retail adjusts its labels!

Pick n Pay logo smallerThe Sour Service Award goes to Pick ‘n Pay in the V&A Waterfront, and its manager Faizel, the only manager on duty on a recent Sunday evening.  I had popped in to buy some bread and bananas, and saw the fruit weighing lady and a colleague chatting away, one even sitting down on the boxes of paw paws.  I asked her what the problem was, and was told that she was ill.  I asked why she didn’t go home if ill, but she said she was not allowed to.  From the time I saw a Pick ‘n Pay staff member and requested her assistance to find the store manager, it took 15 minutes for Faizel to arrive at the till, where I was waiting for him, having already paid.  He was rude in telling me that it is the staff member’s duty to tell him when they are ill, not that of customers!  Cheekily he asked me if that was the reason why I had called for him!

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at  whalecot@iafrica.com.   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog.  FOR THE DURATION OF MASTERCHEF SA SEASON 3 WE ARE MOVING THE SWEET & SOUR SERVICE AWARDS TO SATURDAYS.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter:@WhaleCottage  Facebook:  click here

MasterChef SA Season 3 episode 8: MasterRobertsons dominates, Refilwe Tselanyane spiced out!

MasterChef 3 8 Three Judges and RobertsonsCan Robertsons be any more dominant in MasterChef SA than in last night’s episode 8?  We have renamed MasterChef SA MasterRobertsons, as the hard sell of the spice brand in this Season 3 is becoming laughable!  One wonders how judges Benny Masekwameng and Pete Goffe-Wood (note his grumpy look in the M-Net publicity shot) must feel to have to push the brand, not an issue which Reuben Robertsons Riffel loses any sleep about, having cashed in on the spice brand for the past three years, thereby losing any credibility he may have previously had as a chef!

The episode started with the Blue Team, which lost the Team Challenge in episode 7.  Filmed on an interesting looking bridge in Umhlanga, directly at the ocean, the five Finalists Penny Fitchet, Refilwe Tselanyane, Roxi Wardman, Francois Zietsman, and Sipho Mdlankomo watching as Chef Benny was wheeled onto the bridge in a rickshaw, clutching a cloche, which he ceremoniously opened to reveal a Bean Curry Bunny Chow.  On the table surrounding the typical Durban dish was a collection of about 20 Robertsons spices and herbs, each MasterChef 3 8 Bean curry Bunny Chow MasterChefcovering a board with a black or a white sticker.  The task of the five Finalists was to each identify one of 15 spices and herbs in the BunnyMasterChef 3 8 Blue Team Whale Cottage Chow, just from tasting it.  The Finalists each drew a wooden cooking spoon with a number on it, to determine the order in which they had to identify the ingredients.  The Robertsons collection stood on a table with the ultimate kitsch tablecloth, in a bright orange, looking like rosettes.  Riffel clearly did not take History at school, confusing the role of Durban and Cape Town in linking our country to the East!

It was said by Riffel that the pressure would be on Roxi to identify the spices Continue reading →

‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’: Cool as a cucumber in Durban, Chow bye Bunny Blondie, ends ‘epic SA trip of a lifetime’!

Hayden Quinn Durben Joe's shop curry Whale CottageIt was the last episode of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa‘ last night, going full circle in Hayden having surfed off Muizenberg in episode 1, and doing so as well in Umhlanga in episode 13 last night.   It was a shame that Hayden chose to end off his endorsement for Woolworths’ sustainability program by playing silly games with two pieces of Naan bread and stick out his tongue, a photograph placed on the programme series’ Facebook page.

Hayden visited a hydroponic cucumber farm Qutom Farms outside Durban, which supplies Woolworths. They catch rain water, and therefore they have not had to use external water for more than two years.  The plants are grown in glasshouses with covering over the roofs to allow the staff to adapt the amount of light shining ontoHayden Quinn 13 Durban Derek Cucumbers Whale Cottage the cucumber plants.  Derrick Baird, Director of Qutam Farms, said that the hydroponic farm ‘is a little bit of Europe here in South Africa’.  They also use solar heating for the plant, generating about 220 kw per day.  The plants are grown in cocopeat instead of in soil.   A fine mist is sprayed if it gets too hot. No pesticides are used, allowing Hayden to eat a crunchy cucumber without having to wash it.

The Victoria Spice Market in Durban is known as the best place in which to buy curry spices.  Viewers were Continue reading →

‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’ episode 12: Rhino spotting, Zulu dancing, more Woolworths deceit!

Hayden Quinn 12 Rhinos Whale CottageLast night’s episode 12 of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa‘ showed many South Africans an area of the country they have little exposure to, being Shakaland, a Zulu Cultural Centre, where Quinn was exposed to Zulu stick fighting, dancing, and traditional food and beer. The link to Woolworths in rhino spotting and to Shakaland is not clear, other than that Woolworths sells Rhino-themed shopper bags.

The Wildlife ACT (African Conservation Trust) Rhino monitor guide Zama Ncube took Quinn and Justin Smith, Head of Sustainability at Woolworths, to track black and white rhino, finding fresh dung and tracks of the rhino in the thick grass, and they were able to spot them too. Woolworths’ shopper bags with rhino visuals were plugged, as was the My Planet shopper card, proceeds of which go to the Wildlife ACT program.  Hayden Quinn 12 Justin Smith and guide Whale CottageThe link between Woolworths’ Sustainability focus and Wildlife ACT was not explained.  Quinn then took to the skies in a helicopter, flown by pilot Etienne Gerber of the Zululand Anti-Poaching Wing of Project Rhino KZN, making it far easier to see the rhinos from above, and to control their movement and protection.  Quinn was spoilt with sightings of zebra, giraffe, and buck.  He was told that there are 20000 rhinos now.   Continue reading →

Sustainability not (yet) guiding South Africans in the seafood they buy!

Sustainable SeafoodDespite good publicity for the WWF-SASSI classification of seafood available in restaurants, and for sale in supermarkets on MasterChef (Seasons 1 and 3), and on ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa‘, a study has found that many consumers do not question the sustainability of the fish they buy!

A survey, conducted by Added Value for the World Wild Fund (WWF) campaign for its South Africa Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) communication, concluded that most South African consumers do not consider sustainability when buying seafood, and almost half do not ask Continue reading →

‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’ episode 11: perpetuates Woolworths’ Ayrshire ‘happy cow’ myth, cooks ‘Memory Food’ with Chef Jackie Cameron!

Hayden Quinn 11 Midlands More Cows

It was ironic that episode 11 of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa‘ last night focused on the Natal Midlands, and that a large part of the half-hour episode focused on farmer Kevin Lang’s Fairfield Dairy Ayrshire farm, given our Blogpost yesterday about the new defensive Woolworths ‘Good Food News’ supplement in the Sunday Times.  

The episode started off with Hayden having a cooling swim near the Howick Falls, which have a 105 meter drop.  Once refreshed, he met Chef Jackie Cameron, then Executive Chef of Eat Out Top 10 restaurant at Hartford House, but who has left toHayden Quinn 11 Midlands Jackie and Hayden at Market Whale Cottage establish her Jackie Cameron School of Food and Wine, which opens in Hilton in January.  Chef Jackie was identified as a WWF-SASSI Trailblazer Chef.  They met at the Karkloof Market, which is just outside Hayden Quinn 11 Midlands Rob SymonsHowick, and here Jackie introduced Hayden to farmer Rob Symons of Broadleaze Organics, offering unusual herbs such as Vietnamese coriander. Dutch cheesemaker MJ Mook of Just Cheese introduced Hayden to and allowed him to taste her special cheeses.  The market seemed a jolly space, with fresh vegetables, herbs, meat, flowers, cheeses, and more. Continue reading →

Woolworths under consumer pressure, on the back-foot, in massive Sunday Times supplement?!

Woolworths Good Food News Front page Whale CottageWe wrote recently how Woolworths has been misleading consumers with claims about its Ayrshire milk, deceiving food labelling, and how it tries to create an image of healthy produce via its ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa‘ series on SABC3. The group Grass Consumer Food Action has been persistent in its criticism of Woolworths, and appears to have hit a raw nerve in the Good Business Journey division at Woolworths, the retailer having launched a brand new ‘Good Food News‘ 16-page insert in the Sunday Times yesterday! It looks like a Taste magazine (the Woolworths sponsored magazine published by New Media Publishing) but printed in Tabloid format on recycled paper!

While the Tabloid has ‘headlines’ on page 1, to attract one’s attention to the content, it consists of a mix of ‘advertorials’ of its award-winning wines (since when are wines a food, as per the name of the publication?) in ‘Crowned as the best‘; ‘responsibly sourced‘ fish;  braai suggestions for ‘Ready Steady Braai’; and ‘Flavours of Home‘ (preparedWoolworths Good Food News Responsible Sourcing Whale Cottage foods with strong spices such as curries, and traditional foods such as koeksisters and milk tart); as well as editorial. It is obviously planned as a monthly insert, numbered ‘Issue 01′, and dated September 2014.  The focus of the first issue is ‘lovelocal‘:

*   ‘New on the shelf‘ (page 3) showcases new pack designs for wine boxes, braai tins, braai marinade, braai Continue reading →

‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’ episode 10: Beautiful BaSotho Lesotho, ‘puristic’ trout!

Hayden Quinn 10 Lesotho title page Whale CottageLast night’s episode 10 of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa‘ showed Hayden Quinn leaving South Africa, and visiting the beautiful Lesotho, ‘Kingdom in the Sky‘, southernmost land-locked country in Africa, and completely surrounded by South Africa.  The content of the episode was motivated by the Katse Fish Farms, which grows trout in Lesotho, a supplier to Woolworths in a production process which is linked to the company’s sister operation Three-Streams Smokehouse in Franschhoek.   Content-wise it was the thinnest episode, both in terms of little meaningful information provided, and even in terms of the few TV commercials flighted!

Hayden was seen on a horse in a traditional BaSotho outfit, with a blanket wrapped around him and wearing a BaSotho hat.  It was explained to him that Lesotho isHayden Quin Basotho outfit 3800 meters above sealevel, its lowest regions still being higher than South Africa, and therefore the locals keep warm by wrapping the blankets around them.  About three-quarters of the country is rural.

In a village near the Katse Dam, Hayden met Rose Lekhoakhoa, a teacher and cook, who grows vegetables Continue reading →

‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’ episode 9: Egoli shows its colours, on the ball!

Hayden Quinn 9 Chef Citrum Khumalo and Hayden Quinn JohannesburgLast night’s episode 9 had little to do with Woolworths, it being odd to have chosen Johannesburg as a sustainable destination, but this was defined more broadly in terms of transportation and how it impacts on climate change.

The episode was different to others before, with most of the content shown in the first 20 minutes, with little advertising, and then one concentrated burst of commercials.  Hayden met with Chef Citrum Khumalo of Asidle Gourmet Catering, the two of them cooking on top of the 22 storey Randlords building, to test Hayden’s fear of heights.  Chef Citrum showed Hayden how to make a colourful Chakalaka, its vibrant colours reflecting the diversity of the population of Johannesburg. The chakalaka was to be served with mango atjar (pickled in Oriental spices), beetroot, free-range chicken, ostrich, boerewors, and dumplings.  Chef Citrum made the chakalaka with onions, parsley, beetroot, garlic, onions, and stock, frying them at high heat, and then adding white wine.  Amazi (sour milk) was added too, Soweto Power Stations Whale Cottageas was chili, mustard seed, carrots, celery, spinach, black and sugar beans, and tomato paste.

Chef Citrum told Hayden that one hasn’t experienced Johannesburg if one has not been to Soweto (a name created from its original name South Western Townships), the most densely populated area in South Africa, in which 2 million persons live.  Orlando is the best known suburb, and it is here that the well-known Vilakazi Street can be found, with the houses of the late Nelson Mandela and Continue reading →