Tag Archives: Clare Mack

Restaurant News: Chef Reuben Riffel cooks up a Cape Town storm in the USA!

Chef Reuben Riffel’s connection with the One&Only Cape Town is putting him, and Cape Town with it, on the world map, and he recently returned from a whirlwind tour of New York, with the compliments of SAA and the One&Only Hotel group. 

He stepped off the aircraft with his Reuben’s Franschhoek chef William Carolissen, and was whisked off to the studios of the Martha Stewart Show  immediately.  Despite her poor performance at the Design Indaba a year ago, Stewart remains an icon of American domesticity, and her show is watched by an audience of about 80000.  Chef Reuben had to prepare South African dishes in front of the camera and studio audience, and had pre-organised which ingredients he would require for it.  He had a time limit of 4 minutes to create Cape Malay pickled fish, and a grilled peri peri beef salad.  The Reuben’s slot ran for 15 minutes and had shots of the One&Only Cape Town too, with Stewart endorsing the hotel by stating that it is her favourite resort in South Africa.  The show will be broadcast on 9 March. 

He was also invited to appear on NBC’s Today Show, with a viewership of 3,3 million on the day of broadcast. Chef Reuben cooked with Today Show personalities Al Roker and Natalie Moralis, and here too he had to prepare two dishes (crisp prawn dumplings with rooibos tea salt, and pan roasted red snapper prepared in a West Coast basting sauce of apricot jam, garlic and soya, served with a salsa of tomato, cucumber, chilli and cilantro) in front of the audience.  

Reuben is no stranger to cooking in front of a camera, making more and more TV appearances, on Pasella in particular, so this stood him in good stead to do our city and country proud.  Chef Reuben said the American TV staff are well organised.   Chef Reuben also prepared food for an One&Only Hotel event for travel agents and tour operators, as well as one for the media (journalists represented the New York Times Style Magazine, Travel+Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, New York Post and Travel Africa.)    

Meeting Chef Reuben and his wife Maryke at Reuben’s at the One & Only Cape Town last week was an opportunity to catch up, and to check whether he is still connected to his restaurant in Cape Town, given my observations after my last visit.  He laughed when we chatted about how incorrect deductions can be made from bits of staff information one receives, and it showed him how important it is for him to communicate with all levels of staff.  Talking of staff, a number of changes have taken place since Reuben’s opened in Cape Town in October:   The Manager Samantha Housden has left, after only a short stint, and has been replaced by Kagiso Mmebe.  In the kitchen Maritz Jacobs has been joined by Aviv Liebenberg, previously at Reuben’s Robertson, and Chef Reuben is encouraging them to visit the Old Biscuit Mill market on Saturdays, so that they can stay in touch with interesting food suppliers, and they come back with fresh products for a new special “Market Day” menu on Saturdays. Reuben’s staff will ‘cross-pollinate’ between Cape Town and Franschhoek, so that they get to experience the other branch.   Camil Haas, who was meant to shadow Chef Reuben in Franschhoek and Cape Town, will be more behind the scenes now, and will manage Chef Reuben’s appearances, and the requirements linked to these, as well as the preparation for outside events. 

Chef Reuben explained why the current menu does not have the chefs’ names on it, and why the Reuben’s branding is so low key, in that the hotel had printed it at a time when the regular Reuben’s printer was closed over the festive season.  The new menu to be launched on 16 February will go back to its “Reuben’s” look, and its content will have a stronger Cape Town focus, with a new dessert for example called ‘Taste of Cape Town’, with small tastes of Hertzoggies, date slices, melktert, rooibos tea ice cream and a coconut koeksister.   In Franschhoek a menu change can be expected at the end of the month, but will have a different focus to the Cape Town one.   A Sunday buffet lunch will be introduced in Cape Town on 27 February, costing R 195.  The Reuben’s Cape Town menu indicates which dishes contain alcohol (for Sol Kerzner, who does not drink alcohol, and for Muslim guests), shellfish, nuts, and pork.

We spoke about the winelist, which I see as overpowering, and not really suiting a Bistro-style restaurant.  Chef Reuben said that Singita is buying up a portion of the wine collection, and he said that they may develop a reduced winelist for Reuben’s.  The One&Only Hotel has influenced the operation of Reuben’s in Cape Town, and has meant more paperwork and adherence to systems, but there are benefits too, such as the international marketing that the hotel group does.  Chef Reuben emphasised that Kerzner does not interfere with his operation of the restaurant. In fact, there is a good relationship between the hotel and the restaurant management, and they meet regularly to address common issues.  Reuben is featured in the international One&Only Hotel newsletter, which was sent out earlier this week.

The decor is evolving, and new multi-coloured glass menu boards have been erected on the columns of the restaurant, to advertise specials.  When I visited last week, a West Coast seafood special was advertised, consisting of a number of dishes.  The boards help the Cape Town branch make spontaneous additions to the menu, without having to reprint it, a greater logistical challenge here than in Franschhoek, Chef Reuben explained. 

A new cookbook is in the pipeline, and will focus on seasons.   It will allow Chef Reuben to continue with the format of his first recipe book, and to reminisce about his childhood in Franschhoek, and his mother’s influence on his cooking.   Richard Carstens is highly praised by Chef Reuben, and he says that Richard “is one of the best” and that “no one can touch him”.

Chef Reuben says there are definitely no further restaurant openings on his agenda, and he is learning to delegate more, to enjoy a more balanced personal and business life.  I left him and Maryke with the feeling that they will make the best of their new relationship with the One&Only Hotel, and that there will be no repeat of Gordon Ramsay’s distant relationship with the ex-maze, the previous restaurant at the One&Only Cape Town, and the resultant demise.

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

Food & Wine writing explodes in Cape Town, bloggers told

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting held at Brio restaurant last night was a huge success, with five Haut Espoir wines tasted, and Rob Armstrong of the wine estate and Sam Wilson of Food24 informing and entertaining the food and wine bloggers attending.   There were lots of laughs, and bloggers attending participated in the discussion.  Cape Town was highlighted by Rob as seeing an “explosion” of food and wine writing, mainly via bloggers, which was not evident in other areas in South Africa.

Sam Wilson, Editor-in-Chief of Food24, Woman24 and Parent 24, impressed by doing her presentation using an iPad, which most bloggers had not seen before.  She challenged bloggers to find their “barrier of authenticity”, in that each blogger should define how far one can go, who one is via one’s blog, and how much of one’s self one wants to reveal.  Each blogger should set their own parameters. “How much of you do you want to be?” she asked the bloggers.   She argued for honesty in blogging, and for not following the magazine route of “selling out”, in only writing good restaurant reviews.  She said that Food24 would be following a policy of saying it as it is in their restaurant reviews.   Brad Ball, chef of Bistro 1682, in discussion of restaurant reviews, said that they welcome the feedback from reviews, and act upon it.  He does take the feedback “from whence it comes”, he said.    Restaurant owners and chefs were advised to not respond when they have had something to drink!   Restaurants should contact the clients posting negative reviews, and sort the issue out as quickly as possible.

Sam warned bloggers to not set themselves up as an expert, as one can easily be ridiculed by others.   She advised them to be humble and honest in their writing.  She reminded bloggers to not take their blogging too seriously, and not be too earnest, but rather enjoy it and to blog for fun.   Each individual blogger’s writing will not change the world, and “does not matter in the bigger scheme of things”.   Sam advised that Google Analytics be used to measure the blog’s readership.   Food24 has a special page on its website to provide a platform for 440 food bloggers, with 50000 readers and 200000 page impressions per month.  She advised new food bloggers to join the Blog platform that had been set up for them on the Food24 website, and then to start up their own independent blogs once they have gained in confidence.  Photographs should be captioned and tagged, to help with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and should be well-shot in good light.  Headlines should have “Googable” words in them, for SEO.   The most popular recipes posted on the Food24 Blogs platform are for fundamental meals such as chicken pie, macaroni cheese, bobotie, and anything with chocolate in it.   A recent post of a “Braai pie” recipe attracted 10 000 hits for a first-time blogger.  Sam concluded that she no longer sees herself as a journalist, but as a “conversation shepherd”.

Rob Armstrong impressed the bloggers by being himself and honest (as was Sam), and is incredibly tall.  Haut Espoir was bought by his family in Franschhoek ten years ago, and Rob took the bloggers through an informal tasting of his Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz Rose (he says they cannot make enough of it), Gentle Giant (named after Rob’s brother) and Shiraz.  Half of Haut Espoir is planted with vines, and the other half with fynbos, over 7 000 fynbos cuttings, representing 600 – 700 species, having been planted.  The goal is to follow organic and biodynamic farming practices, and  Haut Espoir supports the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative.   The winemaker is Nikey van Zyl, and Rob says that he is in charge of sales and quality control, in testing the wines.  He has a personal relationship with his clients (including &Union and Caveau), and personally delivers his wines to them, so maintaining the good relationship.  Rob writes a “Fynbos Friday” post about the wonderful plants they have on their farm.  One can do a Fynbos and Vine Tour with Rob, by making an appointment.   In contrast to Sam, Rob does not know his website readership, and does not really care what it is.  He does however know that they produce 80 000 bottles of wine per year.

It was interesting to hear the Canadian statistic that the average time between buying and drinking a bottle of wine is 17 minutes, meaning that wine drinkers are not ageing their wines any more.   In South Africa the statistic is 72 minutes.  Rob shared that the number of Vignerons of Franschhoek has more than doubled since 2004, and now stands at 54.  Discussions are in place to stretch the new Franschhoek Wine of Origin region, to include such wine estates as Backsberg and Glen Carlou.   Rob is the Chairman of the Vignerons’ Sustainability Committee, a joint action by the vignerons to self-audit their sustainability.  Wine buyers can check the sustainablity of the wines they buy and drink via the new sustainability seals.  Rob is on Twitter, as @Rambowine, while the farm’s Twittering (@HautEspoir) is done by Raoul de Jongh.   Rob was asked whether wine sales had increased due to his blogging and Twitter activity, and he said that he could not quantify that, but that it was easier to sell his wines due to the awareness that had been created for Haut Espoir.

The next Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting will be held on Wednesday 22 September, at the Salt Vodka and Champagne Bar, above Salt Deli and across the road from the Ambassador Hotel in Bantry Bay.  Food blogger Dax Villanueva from Relax-with-Dax and wine blogger Hein Koegelenberg from La Motte will be the speakers.   To make a booking to attend, e-mail info@whalecottage.com.

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

Towards a Code of Ethics for Food (and other) Bloggers!

I have come across a blog called “Food Blog Code of Ethics”, compiled by two food bloggers in America, which has raised the important issue of ethics in food blogging, which principles can apply to wine and other blogging too.  The Code raises important issues for South African bloggers in dealing with the ethics of blogging.

Brooke Burton writes the blog ‘FoodWoolf’, subtitled “the restaurant insider’s perspective”, and Leah Greenstein’s blog is called ‘SpicySaltySweet’.  They got together with other food bloggers to create an ‘union of ethical food bloggers’, setting “Reviewers’ Guidelines” and compiling the Code of Ethics.   We do not necessarily agree with all their principles, but welcome it as a foundation for a Blogging Code of Conduct that we may jointly subscribe to as members of the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club.

The blog post on reviewing restaurants states the following principles they subscribe too – our comments are in italics.

1.   One should visit the restaurant more than once, and state if the review is based on only one visit – we do not agree that a review should be based on more than visit, as the strengths and weaknesses of a restaurant are usually the same and apparent immediately.   Restaurants should strive for consistency, so that the reviewer should experience it in the same way on any visit.  Reviews help restaurants improve their food and service quality, if they are smart about facing them and learning from them, not always a strength of restaurantsMultiple visits are expensive, as most visits are paid for by the reviewer.  On our Blog we will update our impression with a Postscript, as we did recently for La Mouette, for example, in that the experience was vastly different compared to previous ones, highlighting a consistency problem.

2.  One should sample the full range of dishes on the menu – this is a hard one to implement, as many menus are excessively big.  Taking a partner to lunch/dinner and ordering different dishes helps, so that the reviewer can try a larger number.  Recently we were criticised by Richard Carstens’ sister-in-law, Leigh Robertson, for not having a starter at Chez d’Or, and that writing a review based on tasting three dishes only was not fair to the restaurant.  I doubt if a starter would have made my review any more positive.  Having a wide range of dishes, when paying for it, is a cost and a space consideration.

3.   One should be fair to a new restaurant and wait for a month after its opening, to give it a chance “to work out some kinks”, and should qualify reviews as ‘initial impressions’ if the review is done in less than a month after opening – bloggers have become very competitive, and some want to write a review about new restaurants before their colleagues do.  Our reviews state when the restaurant opened if it is new, so that the reader can read such “kinks” into it.  The first ‘Rossouw’s Restaurants’ review of La Mouette raised the issue of how quickly one can/should review a new restaurant, one of Rossouw’s inspectors having been at the restaurant on its first or second day of opening.  Two visits to Leaf Restaurant and Bar on two subsequent days showed their acceptance of customer feedback by moving the ghetto-blaster they have set up on the terrace from on top of a table, to below it, after my comments to them about it.   No other business, play or movie has a second chance in reviews being written about it, in that they are normally done after opening night – so why should restaurants be ‘protected’ in this way?   No business should open its doors when it is not ready to do so (Leaf held back its opening because it had problems in getting a credit card machine installed by the bank)!

4.  One should specify if one received a meal, or part of it, or any other product for free, and should also declare if one was recognised in the restaurant – absolutely agree on the declaration of the freebie, and we have regular Blog readers and Commenters who delight in checking blogs for the freebies.  Some bloggers are labelled by such readers as not having credibility, in that they usually only write about meals they received for free, and usually are very positive about them, so that they can be invited back in future!   The recognisablity of the reviewer is an interesting issue.  I always book in the name of “Chris”, with a cell number.   If I know the owner or a staff member of the restaurant, I will state that in the review.

5.   One should not use pseudonyms in writing reviews, and reviewers should stand up and be counted by revealing their names – absolutely agree.  In Cape Town we have a strange situation of Food bloggers who hide behind pseudonyms.  Andy Fenner (JamieWho) wanted to remain unidentified when he started blogging, yet appointed a PR agency to raise his profile, and was “outed” by Food & Home, when they wrote about him, using his real name.  He is now open about his real name (probably being irritated by being called Jamie more often than Andy, I assume).  One wonders what bloggers using pseudonyms have to hide?  Wine bloggers seem to be more open and upfront about who they are.   I would like to add here how difficult it is to make contact with Food Bloggers in particular .  Most do not have a telephone number nor an e-mail address to contact them on their blogs, and one has to use a Comment box to contact them, which most do not respond to.   Yet many of these bloggers are looking to make money from advertising on their blogs. 

The Code of Ethics which the two bloggers prepared with their colleagues is as follows:

“1. We will be accountable

  • We will write about the culinary world with the care of a professional. We will not use the power of our blog as a weapon. We will stand behind our claims. If what we say or show could potentially affect someone’s reputation or livelihood, we will post with the utmost thought and due diligence.
  • We understand why some bloggers choose to stay anonymous. We respect that need but will not use it as an excuse to avoid accountability. When we choose to write anonymously for our own personal or professional safety, we will not post things we wouldn’t be comfortable putting our names to.
  • If we review a restaurant, product or culinary resource we will consider integrating the standard set of guidelines as offered by the Association of Food Journalists.

2. We will be civil

  • We wholeheartedly believe in freedom of speech, but we also acknowledge that our experiences with food are subjective. We promise to be mindful—regardless of how passionate we are—that we will be forthright, and will refrain from personal attacks.

3. We will reveal bias

  • If we are writing about something or someone we are emotionally or financially connected to, we will be up front about it.

4. We will disclose gifts, comps and samples

  • When something is given to us or offered at a deep discount because of our blog, we will disclose that information.  As bloggers, most of us do not have the budgets of large publications, and we recognize the value of samples, review copies of books, donated giveaway items and culinary events. It’s important to disclose freebies to avoid be accused of conflicts of interest.

5. We will follow the rules of good journalism

  • We will not plagiarize. We will respect copyright on photos. We will attribute recipes and note if they are adaptations from a published original. We will research. We will attribute quotes and offer link backs to original sources whenever possible. We will do our best to make sure that the information we are posting is accurate. We will factcheck. In other words, we will strive to practice good journalism even if we don’t consider ourselves journalists”.

The above aspects are clear and need no elaboration.  The last sentence of the Code is odd though, in that we are “new age” journalists, and must play by the same rules as the print, radio and TV media do.  That means we must research our stories, to ensure their accuracy.   One can correct a blog post if one makes an error, including spelling and grammar ones.  An American food blog recently added a note about getting the name of a restaurant reviewer wrong – she did not change it in the blog post, but wrote an apology at the bottom of her post, highlighting the error, which most readers probably would not have picked up.  A controversial issue is the announcement of Reuben Riffel taking over the maze space at the One&Only Hotel Cape Town, which Riffel has denied.   No correction or apology to Riffel or the hotel has been posted,

We encourage Bloggers and Blog readers to give us their views on the Code of Ethics as well as the Restaurant Review guidelines, which we will be happy to post.  I would like to get the ball rolling by stating that the Code should include the publishing of Comments, even if they are controversial, as long as they do not attack the writer or the subject of the blog post with malice, and the Commenter is identified, as is the family or other relationship of the Commenter (e.g. JP Rossouw’s and Richard Carstens’ sisters-in-law).   I would also like to hear views about revealing to the restaurant that one is writing a review, in that I was recently criticised by the co-owner of Oskar Delikatessen for not asking permission to write a review and to take photographs, which contradicts the Code on writing unidentified.  A third issue is the acceptance of advertising on one’s blog, or accepting sponsorships for brands, and how this should be revealed.

POSTSCRIPT 22/8 : Reuben Riffel’s appointment as the new operator of the restaurant at the One&Only Hotel Cape Town has been announced in the Sunday Times today.   We congratulate Spill blog on having had its ear to the ground in announcing this news ahead of all other media.  The One&Only Hotel had denied speaking to Spill about Reuben’s appointment at the time that they wrote the story, and Riffel had denied it too. 

POSTSCRIPT 29/8:  Since writing this post, the identity of The Foodie as being David Cope has been revealed by Crush!2.  Furthermore, Clare “Mack” of Spill Blog (with her husband Eamon McLoughlin) has been identified as being Clare McKeon, an ex-Irish TV chat show hostess, columnist, author of “The Emotional Cook”, magazine beauty journalist, and owner of the Bliss Beauty Salon.  

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

Sam Wilson of Food24 Blogs “paired” with Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir

The fourth Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting takes place on Wednesday 18 August, from 18h00 – 20h00, at Brio Restaurant, and will pair Sam Wilson of Food24 food blogs, and Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir wines in Franschhoek.

Sam Wilson is the Editor-in-Chief of Woman24, Parent24 and Food24.  Food24 has a special page on its website to provide a platform for 440 food bloggers, with 50000 readers and 200000 page impressions per month.  Sam was previously a commercial lawyer, and turned to freelance writing after the birth of her sons, before joining Media24. She was a speaker at the Food Bloggers’ Conference earlier this year.  She has also worked as a copywriter, a customer publishing strategist, a columnist and a cocktail bartender. Her websites collectively attract over 500 000 readers, and she says she “specialises in community management and the art of oversharing”.

Rob Armstrong has a BA in Archeology and Environmental and Geographical Science, and runs Haut Espoir in Franschhoek.  It is celebrating the 10th anniversary of turning this family farm into a red wine farm and planting it with Franschhoek Fynbos.  Rob is committed to “minimal intervention” with “mother earth”, both in terms of winemaking and their farming.  He is a proud member of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative.

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was formed to reflect the tremendous growth in and power of food and wine blogs in forming opinion about food, restaurants and wines.  Most bloggers do not have any formal training in blogging, and learnt from others.   Each of the two bloggers will talk for about half an hour about their blog, and what they have learnt about blogging.  The Club will give fledgling as well as experienced bloggers the opportunity to learn from each other and to share their knowledge with others.  Attendees can ask questions, and get to know fellow bloggers.  The Club meetings are informal and fun.

Other writers that will be talking at future Bloggers Club meetings are the following:

Wednesday 22 September: Dax Villanueva of Relax-with-Dax Blog, and Hein Koegelenberg of La Motte and Hein Koegelenberg Blog

Wednesday 20 October: Clare Mack of Spill Blog, and Simon Back of Backsberg Blog

Wednesday 24 November:  Marisa Hendricks of The Creative Pot Blog, and Emile Joubert of Wine Goggle Blog

Wines are brought along by the wine blogging speaker, and Rob will introduce the Haut Espoir wines served.  Snacks will be served.  The cost of attendance is R 100.  Bookings can be made by e-mailing info@whalecottage.com.

Venue: Brio Restaurant, 130 Adderley Street (ex-Riboville), two doors down from the Twankey Bar of the Taj Hotel.

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

maze in Cape Town never a-maze-ing, closes down

maze at the One&Only Cape Town closed down this morning, when the hotel cancelled its contract with Gordon Ramsay Holdings Ltd.  The restaurant re-opens this evening, as the unimaginatively named The Restaurant at One&Only Cape Town, with a brand new menu.  

Our review of a dinner at maze five days after the restaurant opened 15 months ago highlighted how unsatisfactory the experience had been, and what a let down it was.

The PR Manager of the One&Only Hotel, Etienne de Villiers, said that the new restaurant style will be “a contemporary South African take on classic dishes, including salads, gourmet pizzas, and a wide selection of fish, meat and vegetarian dishes, whilst focusing on the freshest seasonal produce”.   The menu is likely to be loaded onto the hotel’s website on Monday, de Villiers said.   The Resort Executive Chef is Jason Millar.  Phil Carmichael, the ex-chef of maze, left earlier this month.

The media statement by the One&Only Cape Town is short and sweet:

“We can confirm that Gordon Ramsay Holdings Limited’s engagement as a consultant to One&Only Cape Town has terminated.  As a result, the restaurant at One&Only Cape Town no longer trades under the maze brand, but the restaurant will remain owned and operated by One&Only Cape Town and will continue to offer daily breakfast, lunch and dinner.   All employees who worked at maze Cape Town are employed by One&Only Cape Town and will not be affected by the transition.”

 

The story was broken by Spill blog this morning, and expanded upon by www.bloomberg.com.  We publish their story below:

“Maze Cape Town, the African outpost of chef Gordon Ramsay‘s dining empire, has closed after about 15 months in business at the One & Only Hotel.

“We can confirm that Gordon Ramsay Holdings Ltd.’s engagement as a consultant to One & Only Cape Town has terminated,” the hotel said today in a statement. “The restaurant at One & Only Cape Town no longer trades under the Maze brand.” It gave no reason for the decision.

The chef’s company, run by his father-in-law Chris Hutcheson, switched to operating restaurants around the world on a consultancy basis after losses almost pushed the company into bankruptcy in 2008 following rapid international expansion.

“GRH Ltd. is purely a consultant to Maze, One & Only, Cape Town,” Gordon Ramsay Holdings said today in an e-mailed statement. “We were aware that the hotel has been having some difficulties but they only informed us of their decision to close Maze this morning. We will be reviewing our contractual agreement with them.”

The woes of Ramsay’s restaurant business have attracted increasing attention as his TV career has soared. He has a new U.S. show, “Masterchef,” following the success of “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Kitchen Nightmares.” Ramsay has said he had to battle to save his dining business from bankruptcy in 2008.

‘Too Many Risks’

“We weren’t unlucky, we were clumsy,” Hutcheson told Bloomberg News in December 2009. “We’d put too many risks in front of us with too much confidence that nothing would fail.”

Jason Atherton, who created Maze, quit Gordon Ramsay Holdings in April. He was followed by his London successor, James Durrant, whose resignation was announced on July 1. A week later, Maze Cape Town’s Phil Carmichael said he was going too.

Maze Prague has already closed, which means the chain has shrunk to four outlets: London, New York, Doha and Melbourne.

“The Maze restaurants in the U.K. and around the world are performing extremely well, with the recent opening of Melbourne exceeding all expectations,” the company said today.

The hotel’s restaurant remains open — as yet without a new name — and employees won’t be affected by the fact it is no longer an outlet of Maze, the One & Only said.

The closure was earlier reported on the blog site Spill.

“Maze is perfectly suited for South Africa,” Ramsay, 43, said on his Web site after the opening on April 4, 2009. “I fully expect this will quickly become another of our successful and sought-after restaurants.” 

POSTSCRIPT 1/8A call to the One&Only Cape Town Hotel Public Relations Manager Etienne de Villiers this morning denies spilling the beans to Spill blog about Reuben Riffel taking over the running of The Restaurant at One&Only Cape Town, and says that he has not spoken to Clare Mack since Friday.  He sounded angry to hear that he had been quoted today by the blog about the Riffel appointment, which has not been confirmed, as they are talking to a number of restaurant operators, de Villiers said.  The Reuben’s Franschhoek staff do not know about the appointment.  Riffel is not available for comment. 

POSTSCRIPT 2/8: The following e-mail was received from Reuben Riffel this morning, denying his involvement at the One&Only Hotel Cape Town:  This is very flattering, but unfortunately there is no truth that a Reubens will be opening there anytime soon. As far as I know the One and Only is talking to several chefs around the Cape. Kind regards, Reuben”

POSTCRIPT 6/8 The following report comes from Sake24:

“Cape Town – Well-known South African chef Reuben Riffel says he’s not interested in taking the place of Gordon Ramsay, who was abruptly “fired”  last week by Kerzner International. 
Riffen has been rumoured to take over from Ramsay at the One&Only Hotel in Cape Town after the consultancy agreement with Gordon Ramsay Holdings (GRH) at the One&Only’s Maze restaurant was suddenly ended. The hotel is now running its own restaurant there.

 

Riffel said he was happy in Franschhoek at the moment and hoped people would stop speculating. He noted that the South African restaurant industry could learn from what had happened at the internationally GRH-branded Maze at the One&Only.

 

He now realised more than ever how important it was not to get too big and become unable to keep a finger on the pulse of one’s business.

Because of the economic climate, Riffel considered restaurants in South Africa currently in a highly vulnerable position.
 
It had been a difficult year for everyone in the restaurant industry, and it was now even more important to maintain a hands-on approach to a business.” 

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

 

 

Warwick/Vilafonte wine and Scrumptious food bloggers paired

The third Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting takes place next Wednesday 28 July, from 18h00 – 20h00, and will pair Jane-Anne Hobbs Rayner of Scrumptious food blog, and Mike Ratcliffe of Warwick and Vilafonte wine blog.

Mike Ratcliffe is the Managing Director of Warwick wine estate and Managing Partner of Vilafonte.  He has a B.Comm (Economics) from the University of Stellenbosch and a Graduate Diploma in Wine Marketing from the University of Adelaide. He is a Board member of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), has been involved on the marketing committee of the Stellenbosch Wine Route, is the Deputy Chairman of the South African Wine Industry Trust (encouraging black economic empowerment and land redistribution), and is President of the United States/South Africa Foundation, a fundraising charity based in the USA.  He is an international wine judge, industry commentator and marketing co-ordinator, and is an industry leader in embracing social media marketing in the marketing of his wines.

Jane-Anne Hobbs Rayner of Scrumptious blog is a freelance journalist, editor, author of three books (on local touring routes, and on raising toddlers), cook, food writer and recipe developer.  She writes as Juno, and her blog is independent, in that she does not accept any advertising or sponsorship, nor does she accept freebies.  She does use Google Adsense.  She is passionate about “food, fresh local ingredients and punchy flavours”. She loves writing recipes.  Jane-Anne was a speaker at the Food Bloggers’ Conference earlier this year. 

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was formed to reflect the tremendous growth in and power of food and wine blogs in forming opinion about food, restaurants and wines.  Most bloggers do not have any formal training in blogging, and learnt from others.   Each of the two bloggers will talk for about half an hour about their blog, and what they have learnt about blogging.  The Club will give fledgling as well as experienced bloggers the opportunity to learn from each other and to share their knowledge with others.  Attendees can ask questions, and get to know fellow bloggers.  The Club meetings are informal and fun.

Other writers that will be talking at future Bloggers Club meetings are the following:

Wednesday 18 August:       Sam Wilson of Food24 Blogs, and Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir 

Wednesday 22 September: Dax Villanueva of Relax-with-Dax Blog, and Hein Koegelenberg of La Motte and Hein Koegelenberg Blog

Wednesday 20 October:     Clare Mack of Spill Blog, and Simon Back of Backsberg Blog

Wednesday 24 November:  Marisa Hendricks of The Creative Pot Blog, and Emile Joubert of Wine Goggle Blog

Wines are brought along by the wine blogging speaker, and Mike will introduce the Warwick wines served.  Snacks will be served to match the Warwick wines.  The cost of attendance is R 150.  Bookings can be made by e-mailing info@whalecottage.com.

The meeting of the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club will be held at Cafe Max, 126 Waterkant Street, in De Waterkant, Cape Town.   From Somerset Road turn up Highfield Street (opposite Green Point Traffic Department), alongside the Tafelberg Furnishers/Kfm building, and turn left into Waterkant Street.  Cafe Max is about 200 meters further down the road, on the left.

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

Food & Wine Bloggers Club pairs Pieter Bubbles Ferreira and Foodie Pete Goffe-Wood

The second Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting takes place at the Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School on Thursday 1 July at 18h00 – 20h00, and features two highly regarded food and wine personalities.

Pete Goffe-Wood is a respected food alchemist, who is a judge for Eat Out’s Top 10 restaurant list, runs Kitchen Cowboys cooking workshops, is a restaurant consultant, and opened Wild Woods restaurant in Hout Bay early this year.   Pieter Ferreira is a renowned winemaker at Graham Beck Wines, specialising in Cap Classique, and is so good at it that he is called “Pieter Bubbles”.  He has been a Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year.  Both will talk about their blogs, and will share their blogging experiences and tips.   Pieter Ferriera will also take bloggers through a Graham Beck wine-tasting.

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was started to meet bloggers’ needs to learn something new about Social Media Marketing, and given that there is no Bloggers’ Manual to teach one about blogging, the Bloggers Club focuses on food and wine blogging, and “pairs” a food blogger with a wine blogger. Every month a different food and wine blogger pair addresses the Bloggers’ Club meeting.

Liam Tomlin, owner of the new Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School in the Cape Town city centre, has come on board as a partner in the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, and his Cookery School will host the meetings. He will also make snacks to match the wine that the Wine Blogger will be presenting during his/her talk.

Each of the selected wine and food bloggers speak for 30 minutes about his/her blog, giving a description of the content, spelling out their goals, and providing guidelines to the other bloggers present about how to be a better blogger. Bloggers attending will then be able to ask questions, and to meet the other Bloggers present.

The programme of speakers for future Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting are Mike Ratcliffe of Warwick Wine Estate and Vilafonte Blog, Sam Wilson of Food24 Blogs, Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir, Dax Villanueva of Relax-with-Dax Blog, Hein Koegelenberg of  La Motte and Hein Koegelenberg Blog, Clare Mack of Spill Blog, Simon Back of Backsberg Blog, and Emile Joubert of Wine Goggle Blog. Future Club meetings will be held on 28 July, 18 August, 22 September, 20 October, and 24 November.

The Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School is a stockist of the most wonderful local and imported kitchenware, glassware, crockery, utensils, pots, as well as a broad range of unusual ingredients, oils, essences, and teas. Chef Liam Tomlin was the co-owner of Banc, Sydney’s top restaurant, whilst he was there.

To attend a meeting of the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, or to volunteer to be a speaker, please e-mail Chris von Ulmenstein  at info@whalecottage.com. All aspirant bloggers, avid Blog readers wishing to meet their blogging heroes in person, and regular bloggers are welcome to join the Club! Attendance costs R 150 per meeting, payable in advance by bank transfer or credit card.   Attendance is limited to 20 persons per meeting, so bookings will be taken on a first come, first served basis.

The Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School is at 50 New Church Street.

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

First Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club “pairing” a ‘wine-derful’ success

The first Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting, held at the Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School in Cape Town yesterday evening, was sold out, and a great success, judging by the positive feedback received from the aspirant as well as regular food and wine bloggers that attended.

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club “pairs” a wine blogger and a food blogger per Club meeting, which are held monthly, and each speaker outlines his/her blog and provides blogging tips and guidelines. The Wine Blogger brings some wine for the bloggers to taste, while Chef Liam Tomlin prepares snacks to showcase his Cookery School, and reputation as a star chef in Sydney, prior to coming to Cape Town and setting up his Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School.  Liam prepared Tartar of Tuna with avocado and ponzu sauce, as well as Potato Raclette and pickled vegetables.

Anel Grobler from SpitorSwallow Blog was the first speaker, and impressed with her statistics relating to trends about blogging.  She quoted a recent survey in PR Week, which found that 20 % of bloggers do so to earn money out of it, and that 52 % of bloggers see themselves as “journalists” (surprisingly the Public Relations industry has not yet discovered the power of bloggers in promoting their clients’ brands!).   Anel and her partner Jan Laubscher are on Twitter continuously, saying it is an “easy way to get the word out”.  On Twitter @SpitorSwallow has 3900 followers and on Facebook they have 1 900 fans, a phenomenal achievement.   She indicated that from a total of 6 South African wine estates being on Twitter in 2009, there are now 209!   Anel has played an important role in encouraging wine estates to embrace social media marketing.    She indicated that they see immediate click through once they put a Tweet on Twitter.   She recommended that new bloggers focus on a niche.   A provocative name like SpitorSwallow attracts interest, and through word-of-mouth their Facebook and Twitter pages have received a huge following.   Almost 700 “wineflies” have evaluated the close to 600 wine estates they have listed.  Anel recommended that companies blog and twitter themselves, and not leave this to a PR company, as the client is passionate about his/her brand.   With a blog it is important that the bounce rate be low (i.e. readers leaving the page).  The length of time spent on a page is also important, to ensure that readers read what one has written for as long as possible.  A quick survey around the room indicated that WordPress is the most popular blog template used.

Michael Olivier is an icon in both food and wine circles, and many of the Bloggers’ Club attendees came to meet him, having his recipe or wine books (‘Michael Olivier – a Restaurateur Remembers’, ‘Crush! 100 Wines to drink now’ , and ‘The People’s Guide – navigate the winelands in a shopping trolley’, the latter with Neil Pendock).   His all-round experience in receiving his training at the Cordon Bleue Cookery School in London, working at the Lanzerac Hotel and Boschendal, having owned three restaurants (Paddagang in Tulbagh, The Burgundy in Hermanus and Parks in Constantia), having consulted on the wine side to Pick ‘n Pay, and presenting a weekly wine programme on Classic FM in Gauteng and a daily informal winetasting on Fine Music Radio in Cape Town makes him very well-connected and extremely knowledgeable.  Sending out a regular newsletter, which became a website, Michael has reinvented himself and will be launching ‘Crush’, South Africa’s first digital online food and wine magazine, he announced at the meeting.   It will go to a database of 1,7 million on 3 June.

The feedback received from the Food and Wine Bloggers that attended the meeting last night was that they enjoyed the relaxed and informal opportunity to network, to meet their mentors, seeing old friends and making new ones, the quality of the speakers, the snacks, the wine, the positive energy in the room, and the ability to learn from everyone that attended.

The next Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting will be held on Thursday 1 July, from 6 – 8 pm, and Pete Goffe-Wood of Wild Woods restaurant and Kitchen Cowboys Blog will be “paired” with Pieter Ferriera of Graham Beck and Bubbles on Wine Blog.   Pieter will bring Graham Beck wines and bubblies to taste, and these will be paired with Liam Tomlin’s food.   The cost to attend is R 150 per person, and bookings can be made by e-mailing info@whalecottage.com.

Future Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting dates and speakers are as follows:

Thursday 1 July:                  Pete Goffe-Wood of Wild Woods and Kitchen Cowboys Blog, and Pieter Ferreira of Graham Beck and Bubbles on Wine Blog

Wednesday 28 July:             The Foodie of The Foodie Blog, and Mike Ratcliffe of Warwick and Vilafonte Wines Blog

Wednesday 18 August:       Sam Wilson of Food24 Blogs, and Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir

Wednesday 22 September: Dax Villanueva of Relax-with-Dax Blog, and Hein Koegelenberg of La Motte and Hein Koegelenberg Blog

Wednesday 20 October: Clare Mack of Spill Blog, and Simon Back of Backsberg Blog

Wednesday 24 November:  Jane-Anne Hobbs of Scrumptious Blog, and Emile Joubert of Wine Goggle Blog

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

New Bloggers’ Club pairs Food and Wine Bloggers, and food and wine!

The new Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, which has its first meeting at the Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School in Cape Town next Wednesday 19 May from 18h00 – 20h00, will pair a Food Blogger and a Wine Blogger at each of the monthly meetings of the Club.

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was formed to reflect the tremendous growth in and power of food and wine blogs in forming opinion about food, restaurants and wines.  Most bloggers do not have any formal training in blogging, and learnt from others.   The Club will give fledgling as well as experienced bloggers the opportunity to learn from each other and to share one’s knowledge with others.

Michael Olivier is the first Food Blogger (although he could equally be speaking about Wine Blogging),  writing blog Michael Olivier, to speak at the Bloggers Club.  He trained at the London Cordon Bleu Cookery School, and is a well-known Cape Food and Wine guru.   Michael was a highly regarded restaurateur (Paddagang in Tulbagh, Burgundy in Hermanus, Parks in Constantia), worked at The Lanzerac Hotel, was PR Manager for Boschendal, and has written three books: “A Restaurateur Remembers”, “crush” and “The People’s Guide – navigate the winelands in a shopping trolley”.  He has been a consultant to Pick ‘n Pay on wine retailing, and presents a daily programme on Fine Music Radio (“Michael Olivier Talking Wine”) and a weekly on-air winetasting programme on ClassicFM.   Michael’s Blog focuses on People, Places, Wine and Food. (The photograph is from Michael Olivier’s blog).

Michael will share the platform of the opening meeting of the Bloggers’ Club with Anel Grobler of SpitorSwallow, a unique “website for wine enthusiasts who visit a lot of wine farms.”   Not only is the cellar door experience rated from a winelover’s perspective, but also restaurants, weddings, accommodation and other events on wine estates are rated too.  Anel started her blog with her partner Jan Laubscher 2 years ago, and won 3rd place in the 2009 Bloggers’ Awards, in the Food & Wine Category.  The site has 650 active users, and 2000 reviews of wine estates, from which a monthly eagerly-contested Top 10 list is announced.  Anel herself has visited 260 out of the 600 wine estates in South Africa, and hopes to visit the remaining ones!   She started the www.winetimes.co.za website earlier this year, with local wine news.

Other writers that will be talking at future Bloggers Club meetings are the following:

Thursday 1 July:                  Pete Goffe-Wood of Wild Woods and Kitchen Cowboys Blog, and Pieter Ferreira of Graham Beck and Bubbles on Wine Blog

Wednesday 28 July:             The Foodie of The Foodie Blog, and Mike Ratcliffe of Warwick and Vilafonte Wines Blog

Wednesday 18 August:       Sam Wilson of Food24 Blogs, and Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir 

Wednesday 22 September: Dax Villanueva of Relax-with-Dax Blog, and Hein Koegelenberg of La Motte and Hein Koegelenberg Blog

Wednesday 20 October:     Clare Mack of Spill Blog, and Simon Back of Backsberg Blog

Wednesday 24 November:  Jane-Anne Hobbs of Scrumptious Blog, and Emile Joubert of Wine Goggle Blog

Attendees can ask questions, and get to know fellow bloggers.   Only 20 bookings will be accepted for each meeting, on a first come, first served basis. 

Bloggers will be able to experience a pairing of the snacks prepared by internationally renowned chef Liam Tomlin, owner of the new Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School, at 50 New Church Street in town, with the wines brought along by the wine blogging speaker.   The cost of attendance is R 150.  Bookings can be made by e-mailing info@whalecottage.com.

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

New Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club launched

An exciting new Food & Wine Bloggers Club has been launched in Cape Town, and its first meeting will be held at the Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School on 19 May, from 18h00 – 20h00.

Based on bloggers’ needs to always learn something new about Social Media Marketing, and given that there is no Bloggers’ Manual to teach one about blogging, I decided to start a Bloggers Club, as I too wish to learn more.   As I enjoy writing about food, and enjoyed attending the Food Bloggers’ Conference in March, I decided to form a Bloggers’ Club that focuses on food and wine, and that “pairs” a food blogger with a wine blogger.  Every month a different food and wine blogger pair will address the Bloggers’ Club meeting.

I am delighted that Liam Tomlin, owner of the new Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School in the Cape Town city centre, has come on board as a partner in the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, and his Cookery School, seating 20 persons, will host the meetings.  He will also make snacks to match the wine that the Wine Blogger will be presenting during his/her talk.

Each of the selected wine and food bloggers will speak for 30 minutes about his/her blog, giving a description of the content, spelling out their goals, and providing guidelines to the other bloggers present about how to be a better blogger.   Bloggers attending will then be able to ask questions, and to meet the other Bloggers present.

Our first food and wine pair to speak, on 19 May, is Michael Olivier of Michael Olivier Blog and Anel Grobler of Spit or Swallow Blog.

Our programme of speakers for future Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting are Pete Goffe-Wood of Kitchen Cowboys Blog, Pieter Ferreira of Graham Beck and Bubbles on Wine Blog, The Foodie of The Foodie Blog, Mike Ratcliffe of Warwick Wine Estate and Vilafonte Blog, Sam Wilson of Food24 Blogs, Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir, Dax Villanueva of Relax-with-Dax Blog, Hein Koegelenberg of  La Motte and Hein Koegelenberg BlogClare Mack of Spill Blog, Simon Back of Backsberg Blog, Jane-Anne Hobbs of Scrumptious Blog, and Emile Joubert of Wine Goggle Blog.

Future Club meetings will be on 1 July, 28 July, 18 August, 22 September, 20 October, and 24 November.  A new speaker list for 2011 will be announced closer to the time.

The Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School opened 3 weeks ago, and is a stockist of the most wonderful  local and imported kitchenware, glassware, crockery, utensils, pots, as well as a broad range of unusual ingredients, oils, essences, and teas.   Chef Liam Tomlin was the co-owner of Banc, Sydney’s top restaurant, whilst he was there.   He consults to British Airways.  For more details about the Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School click here.

To attend a meeting of the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, or to volunteer to be a speaker, please e-mail me at info@whalecottage.com.  All aspirant bloggers, avid Blog readers wishing to meet their blogging heroes in person, and regular bloggers, are welcome to join the Club!   Entrance is R 150 per meeting, payable in advance by bank transfer or credit card.   Attendance is limited to 20 persons per meeting, so bookings will be taken on a first come, first served basis.

The Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School is at 50 New Church Street.  From Buitengracht Street turn into Buitensingel Street near the Caltex garage, below Bo-Kaap.  Turn first right into New Church Street.  The Cookery School is on the right, just off the corner, diagonally opposite the Protea Fire & Ice Hotel.

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