Tag Archives: catering

Film Cape Town to reposition itself (again) as the SA Film Capital!

The City of Cape Town has announced that the Film Cape Town website has been launched, a joint venture between itself and the Cape Town film and media industry. This is excellent news for the tourism industry in Cape Town and surrounds, to revitalize an industry which brought thousands of film industry tourists as well as millions of Rands to our city, but which declined due to the closure of the Cape Film Commission due to a cut in grants from the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape provincial government in 2016, the water crisis, local rising costs, as well as an industry which battled within itself and the City and province. Continue reading →

Visa Regulations have affected Cape film and model agency business!

imageCape Town has long been the focus of the international film industry, given its majestic beauty, its lower costs due to the weak Rand, being on the same time zone as Europe, and its excellent weather. The Visa Regulations launched last June have put a damper on the Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 9/10 December

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*  Tim Harris has been appointed as the new CEO of Wesgro, the trade, investment and tourism promotion agency for the Western Cape, for  three year period Minister Alan Winde announced today. Harris currently is the Investment Officer of the City of Cape Town, and will replace Nils Flaatten from 1 January. (received via media release from Minister Winde’s office)

*   Despite doom and gloom, South Africans enjoy eating out at restaurants and buying food at take-away outlets, according to a survey by Statistics SA.   October was the third best month in respect of food and beverage expenditure in the past four years, with a total expenditure of almost R4 billion.  R1,8 billion was spent at restaurants and coffee shops, and R1,5 billion at take-away and fast food outlets.  Catering made up the balance.  The food and beverage industry grew by 11,5% year on year, with the take-away/fast food side growing at 15%.  Total expenditure on the food and drink industry was R43 billion in the past year.

*   Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown has requested Eskom to communicate its loadshedding schedules more Continue reading →

FEDHASA Cape understates severity of Cape Restaurant closures!

Rey Franco, FEDHASA Cape chairman of the Restaurant and Catering Industry segment, seems to be out of touch with the segment which he represents, in claiming in Cape Business News that 27 new restaurants opened and only three closed down in the Cape in the past year!  The situation is much worse in terms of restaurant closures, despite far more new restaurant openings.

Our ongoing tracking of restaurant openings shows that new restaurant openings were greater in number than the FEDHASA Cape figure, at 80 openings in the past twelve months, and included Cousins, Thai Café in Stellenbosch and Sea Point, De Oude Meul Bakkerij, Frères Bistro, The Urban Garden, Goloso Deli & Restaurant, Goloso Pizzaria, Bar1, Tamboerswinkel, I ♥ my Laundry, Millhouse KItchen at Lourensford, Reserve Brasserie, The Rotisserie at Leopard’s Leap, Café Blanc de Noir at Brenaissance,  Moyo at the V&A Waterfront, Mischu, Cattle Baron in Paarl, Latitude33, Baked Bistro, Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro, Deluxe Urban Café, The Eatery at Diemersdal, De Grendel Restaurant, Camphor’s at Vergelegen, Antipasto Bar at Antonij Rupert Wines, Kloof Street House, Orphanage, Peter’s House, Le Venue at JC le Roux, Mitico, Slug & Lettuce on Kloof Street and in Stellenbosch, Ali Baba Kebab in Camps Bay, 5Rooms, La Belle Café & Deli, Big Route Top Gourmet Pizza, Stables at Vergelegen, Vovo Telo, Glashuis at Babylonstoren, Hussar Grill at Steenberg, Dorpstraat Deli, The Boat House, Orinoco, Cassis Paris Salon de Thé, Dog’s Bollocks, Jackal & Hide, Saints on 84 Kloof Street, Sushibox, Mama Cucina in Riebeek Kasteel, Salzburger Grill, The Stall, Shimmy’s Beach Club, The Red Table Restaurant at Nederburg, EuroHaus, Merchant’s Café, Truth on Buitenkant Street, Deluxe Coffeeworks, No 6 Restaurant at Welbedacht, Simply Asia in Paarl, La Pentola in Hermanus, Lizette’s Kitchen in Hermanus, Vino’s in Wellington, Sacred Ground Bakery & Deli in Franschhoek, Col’Cacchio In Hermanus and Westlake, Christina’s at Van Loveren, four Vida e Caffè, Gourmetboerie, Kushi Indian Restaurant, Moksh Authentic Indian Cuisine, Alfama, Paulina’s Restaurant at Rickety Bridge, Wakaberry in Rondebosch and Kloof Street, Okamai at Glenwood, Café Dijon in Green Point, and Deli @ The Square in Paarl.

Restaurant closures were more severe in the past year than reflected (maybe Franco wanted to project a perfect picture of the Cape restaurant industry, or he is that out of touch?), with at least 29 closures as per our count, which included Vanilla, two Café Dijon in Stellenbosch, Sabarosa in Bakoven, Toro Aperitif Bar, Caveau on Bree Street, Gourmet Burger, Limoncello, Casa Nostra, Wicked Treats in Franschhoek, Bistro on Rose, Paparazzi,  Rhapsody’s, Cape Town Fish Market in Somerset West, Josephine’s Cookhouse, Wale Rose Lifestyle, Mason, Café Sofia in Camps Bay (all outlets may have closed down), Gesellig, Beads in Stellenbosch, French Toast Wine Bar & Tapas, ACT Restaurant, The Kove, Planet Green Salad Bar, Freedom Hill, Sapphire, Grilleri in Hermanus, Franschhoek Deli, and Illyria in Stellenbosch.

The article emphasises how tough the restaurant industry is, with rising cost of food, electricity and gas, rental, and staff a major challenge, as is the tightening budgets of restaurant patrons.  The restaurant industry is highly overtraded and fragmented, and Franco says that ‘keeping a restaurant above water (sic) has always been a tough challenge’.  He adds that only a few have a winning ‘recipe of setting, food, social placement and value proposition’.

He noted a trend of restaurants opening at the start of summer, with restaurant closures visible at the start of winter. His statistic of two restaurants opening for every restaurant closure knocks his own restaurant opening and closure statistics mentioned above.  He also has seen an increased demand of catering for children, and a focus on healthy and organic food.  Loyalty programmes work, and refurbishments keep a restaurant interior fresh, he advises.

The larger franchised restaurants have done well in the past year, the Spur Corporation’s sales having increased by 17,5% in the last six months of 2012, whilst the Famous Brands franchises of Steers, Debonairs, Wimpy, Mugg & Bean, and Fishaways jointly increased turnover by 13% last year.  It is the smaller independents that may face another bleak winter to come, starting early this year due to the early Easter, which is synonymous with the end of the summer season.

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

Restaurant Review: Mozzarella Bar serves mainly … mozzarella!

I have had my moments with Giorgio Nava, but must salute his bravery in zealously opening restaurants in Cape Town, in addition to the two established restaurants 95 Keerom Street and Carne.   Last month he opened Down South on Long Street and the Mozzarella Bar on Kloof Street, and on Saturday Café Milano opened, higher up on Kloof Street.  The Mozzarella Bar is run by charming Italians, and all its dishes, except the bakery items and desserts, contain a soft creamy mozzarella, offering good value for money.

Co-owner and interior designer, and friend of Nava, Matteo Amatruda, explained that Nava is trying to educate Capetonians about true Italian cuisine, and each of his restaurants, with the exception of Down South, focuses on a specific Italian aspect.  Café Milano, for example, will focus on baking, and bakes the bread and makes the croissants for the Mozzarella Bar. Nava runs between all his properties, we were told, and we saw this, as he popped in as we were about to leave, having been there earlier in the morning already.

The manager Simone explained that special equipment was brought out from Italy Continue reading →

Restaurant Review:Nguni Restaurant as hardy as Nguni cattle!

Nguni Restaurant is one of my favourites in Plettenberg Bay, located in one of the oldest buildings in Plett, having been built as a fisherman’s cottage 160 years or so ago.   It has been offering good value cuisine, with friendly service, for the past four years, and is withstanding the recession that has hit Plettenberg Bay badly.

Nguni is the name of the language group comprising Xhosa and Zulu, but is also the name of a cattle breed, and it is the latter that the restaurant is named after.  Nguni cattle offer the benefit of optimal production, are the mainstay of the Zulu culture, have multicoloured hides, and are hardy, much like the restaurant.   A painting of a Nguni bull is on one of the walls, and a Nguni skin is under the largest table.  Black and white photographs of Plettenberg Bay adorn the walls.

The restaurant forms part of The White House complex belonging to the Ovenstone family, its hall being used for functions, shows and exhibitions.   Nguni joint-owners Jacqui Carter-Johnson and Natalie Eray use their restaurant kitchen not only to cook for the restaurant, but also do catering for weddings and other events from it.  The restaurant can seat 40 guests inside, and another 30 outside.  An ornamental vine outside provides shade for the lunches.  Inside the original wood-burning stove adds cosiness on cold winter evenings.

Table overlays have stripes on them, and are made from linen, as are the serviettes.  The metal top tables remind me of those at Grande Provence in Franschhoek, as do the overlays.   Nice black water glasses match the black and white flowered upholstery on some of the chairs, whilst other chairs have light striped upholstery.   Candles are used extensively to create a romantic atmosphere at night.  Good quality leather menu and winelist holders are presented to the table by the friendly waiter Robert, whom we first met when he was working at the Grand Café and Rooms in Plettenberg Bay more than four years ago.   It is lovely to see his beautiful smile whenever we go to Nguni and he knows my love for water with lemon, the jug being ready at our table when we arrive.   Clint is the manager, and keeps an eye on things at night.

Plettenberg Bay is suffering the effects of the recession worse than the Cape Town could dream of, and it was shocking to hear how many Plett landmarks have closed in the past few months.  Therefore all the greater the relief that Nguni has survived, the catering side of the business helping to keep it alive.  It was noticeable that the menu prices were very reasonable, and it felt as if prices have dropped since we were last there eight months ago.  Yet the reality of the economic situation was that only four tables were booked in total for the dinner, and I was the only guest for lunch the day before.   In winter Nguni impressed with its weekly Wednesday special, down to about R50 a dish.

One of the most interesting breads served in a restaurant is that of Nguni, a wholewheat mini-loaf baked in a terracotta flower pot, and is meant to be shared.  It is served with a generous slice of butter.  I ordered grilled chicken breast for my main course, and asked Robert to ask the kitchen to leave out the quinoa in the salad with avocado and tomato it was meant to be served with. I felt that the chicken portion (one breast) was too small to justify the R82 price tag.  My partner ordered the lamb chops roasted in rosemary and garlic, prepared medium,  juicy and tender, served with roast potato slices, for R85.  We felt that the plate needed some colour.   It is clear that Nguni is focusing on affordability, and while this is commendable, it may come at the expense of cuisine expectations.   When I muttered about the small chicken portion, manager Clint comped the meal, agreeing that it was not good value.  Other main courses are a 350 g Nguni rib-eye steak, at R98, an ostrich “hot dog” (R65), seared tuna (R98), grilled linefish (SQ) and a Cape prawn platter is the most expensive at R160.  Starter options are a chilled soup (R38), trademark Bobotie springrolls which have been on the menu since the restaurant opened (R38), smoked springbok carpaccio (R52), game salami and cheese board (R58), and a tomato and a goat’s cheese onion tart (R48).   Four salad options, ranging from R48 – R58, are also available. 

The cappuccino was a good foamy one, made with Illy coffee.  We didn’t have any wine, as a long night of work still lay ahead.   The winelist is dominated by Sauvignon Blancs. Brampton is the entry level, at R30/R88, and includes Thelema, Southern Right, and Ataraxia, at R147; and Chardonnays ( R452 for Hamilton Russell and R195 for Jordan) on the white side.  No vintages are specified, but each wine is described and the region specified.   Saxenburg Grand vin Rouge is the only red wine offered by the glass, at an affordable R25/R63.  The varieties of the other red wines offer a good spectrum, Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir being the most expensive at R472.   The wine list states that Champagnes and Cap Classiques are available to order, but the brands are not specified.

We will always go back to Nguni first when we visit Plettenberg Bay, ahead of any other restaurant, feeling so at home there.  I also like that little changes there, other than the odd menu item, making it feel familiar, even after a longer absence.  Most of all, it is special because the staff are so friendly.

Nguni Restaurant, 6 Crescent Street, Plettenberg Bay.  Tel (044) 533-6710. www.nguni-restaurant.co.za (not much detail on the website and few photographs).  Mondays – Fridays 10h00 – dinner, Saturdays 18h00 – dinner.  Open Mondays – Sundays 10h00 – dinner in peak season.

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

Franschhoek Inn-Law!

Franschhoek was largely booked out as far as its accommodation is concerned over the Women’s Day weekend earlier this month, thanks to the law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (ENS), which chose Franschhoek for its annual staff and family get-together.   The law firm is one of the largest in Africa, with more than 360 legal, tax and forensic practitioners, and has branches in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Stellenbosch and Durban.


The booking probably was the largest group booking ever for Franschhoek, and the law company’s contribution to Franschhoek can easily be estimated at about R 500 000 over the two day period.   The economic contribution to Franschhoek may well be double that, if shopping at wine cellars and shops, as well as additional services rendered, is added.   Air and bus transportation will have benefitted the broader economy too.


“At ENS we are very aware of the importance of our people and, aside from many employee benefits, we also hold an annual retreat where all professionals, plus their families, are accommodated at a special locale.  The aim of these retreats is to, firstly, thank our professionals and their families who support them through the stresses of daily life and, secondly, to give everyone an opportunity to truly unwind in a setting outside of their normal environment” said Amanda Framcke, Marketing Team Leader: Events at ENS.    


“This year we were pleased to choose Franschhoek as the firm was looking for somewhere different to their usual venues which were more resort-like.  This retreat had a different feel to it and was exactly what we were looking for.  Franschhoek offers not only beauty but an array of exciting options all in a secluded area with a quaint small town feel.  It’s a wonderful place to relax and unwind and enjoy the many options it has to offer” she added.


ENS has an in-house marketing and events team that organises all events, including accommodation and flight bookings, catering, entertainment and anything else that is needed to make an event a success.  “This retreat involved approximately 280 adults which consisted of our practitioners and senior services team, as well as spouses and roughly 50 children.  This meant extensive arrangements and we were thrilled with the support we received from the various places of accommodation and other venues we used.  Because of the size of the group and special dietary requirements, we used an external caterer for all meals other than breakfast which everyone enjoyed at their place of accommodation.  We did, however, have lunch at Haute Cabriere on the Sunday of the long weekend which was a special highlight of the trip”.


Not only did ENS staff and their families stay in Franschhoek at 15 of the town’s guesthouses and four hotels, but suppliers did as well.  Watershed, a band performing for the group in the town hall on one of the evenings, was accommodated at Whale Cottage Franschhoek.


“Our programme for the weekend included spa activities, horse riding and quadbiking at Rheebokskloof, a mosiac workshop, fishing at La Ferme, bicycle hire, cheese and wine tasting at Franschhoek Cellars, chocolate tasting and visits to the ice cream shop.  We would like to also mention our appreciation for the transport company we used in Franschhoek (Eddie), the Municipal Officials and the local businesses for their participation and hospitality”.  Lunches and dinners were served for the ENS group in the Town Hall, an outside catering company having been appointed.


“The response from our practitioners and their families has been extremely favourable with many commenting that they would like to return to Franschhoek for our next retreat.  It is fair to say that this was one of our most popular getaways yet.” 


Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com