Tag Archives: Fancourt

Diners Club salutes top Western Cape winelists, Bushman’s Kloof judged best!

Diners Club Winelist banner Whale CottageThe Diners Club Winelist Awards for the Western Cape were held at Shimmy Beach Club yesterday, saluting the restaurants in the province, and the standard of their winelist content and presentation. Bushman’s Kloof won best Winelist in the Western Cape.  During the course of this week the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal awards will also be presented.

A judging panel, led by wine judge Dave Hughes, and consisting of Winnie Bowman, Nikki Dumas, Fiona McDonald, and Christine Rudman, evaluated 208 winelists nationally, and 100 from the ‘Cape‘, a province which has not existed for years!  Diners Club threw the Western Cape and Eastern Cape into one ‘Cape’ pot in reporting on the results and in handing out the awards yesterday!  A substantial number of Western Cape restaurants did not enter the competition this year, down from 96 entries last year to 80 this year.

Odd was the choice of venue, being the Bar section of Shimmy Beach Club, which did not have Diners Club Pongracz Whale Cottageenough parking for the attendees, some walking for more than 1 km to get to the venue.  We were welcomed with a glass of Pongracz, and the food was very meagre, being macaroni cheese croquettes and sushi!  There was not enough seating for everyone, in a room which had some round tables, a few chairs and couches, but had no presence in making this function special for the award winners, compared to the venue used at the Vineyard Hotel last year.  It also was not a finalist for the Winelist Awards! Very odd was using Anna Trapido as the MC, not generally known to the local restaurant wine stewards and sommeliers, in being the editor of the 2015 ‘Diners Club Rossouws Continue reading →

Western Cape restaurants lead the Diners Club International Winelist Awards 2013!

Diners Club Winelist Awards 2More restaurants in the Western Cape than in any other province entered and received a Diners Club International Winelist Award 2013. At the 30th Awards function held for the Western Cape at the Vineyard Hotel on Wednesday,  MasterChef SA Judge and Tsogo Sun Chef Benny Masekwameng announced the 38 winners in the Diamond, 30 in the Platinum, 26 in the Gold,  and 2 in the SilverDiners Club Chef Benny Whale Cotatge Portfolio Award categories, 96 awards in total.

Veteran wine critic Dave Hughes chaired the judging panel, which included fledgling judge Chef Benny, restaurant guide editor JP Rossouw,  wine judges Christine Rudman and Fiona McDonald,   Winestyle.biz owner Nikki Dumas, and the Cape Wine Academy head Marilyn Cooper.  He said that it was fitting that the Awards ceremony was held at The Vineyard hotel, the Newlands area having been the first in Cape Town in which grapes were grown, but soon Continue reading →

The SA Butler Academy grossly misleads its students and hospitality industry clients!

Having had the misfortune to connect with The South African Butler Academy, and its Recruitment Head Adriaan Coetzer last week in respect of their graduate Hettie Novacovic, we have done more homework on this dishonourable and unprofessional butler training and recruitment body based in Cape Town.

A phone call to Coetzer, to chat to him about Mrs Novacovic’s short-lived employment with us, was professional and honest, Coetzer agreeing that Mrs Novacovic had acted unprofessionally by not arriving for work without giving notice, was late for work twice in four days, did not follow instructions about the breakfast serving time or any other instructions for that matter, did not own up to damages she caused to our property which cost us a call-out fee for the pool company, did not want to interact with our guests over breakfast (one couple asked her to leave the table, something we have not experienced in our 17 years of operation!), she refused to shake hands to welcome our new guests, was unable to manage the housekeepers, left to go home midway during guest check-in training, prepared a dreadfully kitsch table for our wedding anniversary guests we wanted to spoil (contrary to my request of how I wanted it to be made special for them), was closed off to any communication with guests and ourselves, documented (unbeknown to us at the time) everything she had seen and learnt with us in the four days on her iPad, and generously took a coffee and a breakfast break herself while the rest of the staff were focused on getting the rooms ready for the new arriving guests.  Coetzer agreed that appointing her was a liability for most potential employers, as she has a husband on pension, who has to be ’employed’ too, but may not earn any income so as to not lose his pension!   He accepted that Mrs Novacovic’s poor work ethic was a very negative reflection on the SA Academy of Butlers and its training standards!  She was dishonest about the rate she quoted for her daily fee, quoting the most qualified butler fee of R800 per 12 hour day, and therefore we reduced her hours to 8h00 – 14h00.  While Mrs Novacovic was not appointed via Guild Recruitment, the placement arm of the SA Butlers’ Academy, Coetzer welcomed the feedback telephonically.

Coetzer promised to have a chat with the butler graduate, having a meeting with her later in the day.  The e-mail response was one of a changed person, making wild unproven allegations, and disputing any weaknesses of Mrs Novacovic, to which he had agreed earlier in the day, which earned him a Sour Service Award! Mrs Novacovic had replied to our Gumtree advertisement for a half day assistant for Whale Cottage Camps Bay, sharing that she was annoyed by Guild Recruitment taking so much of her fee for their placement fee of 20% on the advertised butler rates.  She was therefore applying for jobs directly, and not via the SA Butler Academy recruitment service, an important part of the Academy’s misleading marketing to attract students.

The SA Butler Academy website (and its Facebook page) is riddled with typing errors, and is over-written with extravagant exaggerated claims:

*  It is a ‘non-profit’ training establishment – yet they charge R19500 for local students, and €5000 for international students inclusive of accommodation!

*   It is aimed at ‘hospitality candidates‘, who have a ‘desire to step into a lavish world of Wealth and Fortune‘ – yet Mrs Novacovic has no clue of the hospitality industry!

*   Its Principal is ‘world renowned’ Newton Cross, but a Google search only provides links to his Academy’s website!  Cross has trained as a butler in the UK, worked on some cruise liners, at Fancourt in George, and at Clarendon House in ‘Fresnay’ (sic)! It is claimed that he has worked for Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Michael Schumacher, Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton, and ‘George Senior Bush (sic)’.

*   Butler student applicants should be fluent in English, but neither the Academy’s website, its Facebook page, nor Mrs Novacovic’s writing reflects this fluency!

*   The ‘Academy is the finest in the world’, and ‘the finest Private Sector training institute in the world and most certainly in South Africa’, but these claims are not substantiated on the website!

*   The Academy is World renowned for our modern approach to Butler Service in private households, resorts, exclusive yachts and passenger liners‘.  Again, no substantiation is offered.

*   The Mission Statement is the ultimate in exaggeration by the Academy, no substantiation reflected in its website or via Google: “The Academy is tantamount with professional Butler training which prides itself on the highest form of dedicated Butler Training. At The South African Butler Academy you will be taught how to run an effective modern private estate or household with grace and professionalism not just and estate but also a Yacht, Hotel Butler department and Boutique Resorts. The Academy course is 8 weeks of intense Butler training governed by experienced celebrity Butlers who are qualified as professional Butlers. The Academy will provide you with all the skills and certification to perform Butler duties. Our Training standards are exceptionally high and admired by International press and media. We are the world’s number one leading Butler Academy and the apex of all estates and households. Become part of SABA and celebrate service”  (our underlining).

*   The logo (provided cheekily by the Academy yesterday) reflects five stars – however the Academy is not graded by the Tourism Grading Council, and its use of the stars is therefore unlawful, SA Tourism having decreed that the star quality denotion is exclusive to the Tourism Grading Council!

It is the claim We are proud to have a legacy in the market as our clients are kept confidential and above all “disclosure” is our highest priority” (our underlining).  Clearly they may have meant ‘discretion’ or ‘non-disclosure’, which ironically is the most dishonest of all the SA Butler Academy claims, with it publishing the slanderous feedback of Mrs Novacovic on its website, reflecting the unprofessional nature of the Academy and its graduates. Any potential employer of a SA Butler Academy graduate should fear that ‘discretion’ is not guaranteed by The SA Butler Academy or its graduates, and in particular by Mrs Novacovic.

Discretion is the most direct association one would have with a butler, and it is reflected in the Florida-based Institute of Modern Butlers’ Professional Butler Code of Ethics, which highlights Integrity, Confidentiality, Service, Lawful Behaviour, Dedication, Personal Development, Respect, Professional Relationship, and Promotion.  The SA Butler Academy and its graduate Mrs Novacovic have breached this international Code of Conduct in a number of respects.  Interesting is that the SA Butler Academy does not have a Code of Conduct!

At a cost of R19500 for an 8 week course, it would appear that The SA Butler Academy students themselves are being taken for a ride, as this time period is not long enough to teach any student the full theoretical spectrum of hospitality, customer service, staff management, table service, silver service, etiquette and protocol, security, home automation, interpersonal management skills, culinary training, household management, and executive housekeeping, all elements of The SA Butler Academy curriculum, and certainly not at a practical level!

Mrs Novacovic made no effort to learn my job, which she was meant to take over, lurking in the kitchen and washing the dishes most of the time, the most expensive dishwasher we have ever employed!  Our staff are served breakfast during the course of our very busy mornings, prepared by our chef, a different egg type daily, which Mrs Novacovic enjoyed too, and they are provided with lunch too.   I love writing this blog, and do so mainly at night, as there is no way that I could do it justice in writing it while sitting in a busy Reception dealing with the guests that we accommodate daily, e-mail enquiries and correspondence having priority during the day.  We deny Mrs Novacovic’s false and libellous allegations, deplore her attempts to discredit ourselves, our staff, and our guests, and reserve our rights to take action against Mrs Novacovic and the SA Academy of Butlers for defamation.

Needless to say, we would warn any potential butler student, and any potential employer of a butler via The SA Butler Academy’s Guild Recruitment, against any dealings with The SA Butler Academy!

POSTSCRIPT 27/2: We have received feedback from a number of our blog readers and past guests that their comments in support of ourselves have not been allowed on the SA Butler Academy blog, another proof of its unprofessionalism and one-sided presentation of information!

POSTSCRIPT 4/3: The SA Butler Academy has taken note of our comments about its exaggerated claims and spelling errors, having removed all the quotes we featured in the above blogpost.  Profiles of the owner Newton Cross and his partner Adriaan Coetzee have been removed.  An attempt has been made to remove the illegal use of the five stars in its logo!

POSTSCRIPT 4/7/17:  We were summonsed early this year by the SA Butler Academy with an intermediate interdict, demanding the removal of this Blogpost, four years after I wrote it. This came after a written request by the Butler Academy that I remove the Blogpost, which I was not prepared to do. Last week the judge hearing the case rejected the Butler Academy demand. I am extremely grateful to my superb advocate, for this outcome. The Butler Academy is threatening a further legal case, to claim compensation for alleged defamation, a case which is likely to be heard in 2018. 

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


Restaurant Review: Pepper Club on the Beach spices up Camps Bay

The Pepper Club on the Beach was a safe refuge on a night that a black southeaster swept through Camps Bay, keeping potential restaurant patrons at home.   Whilst its name makes one think of summer specifically, its menu is suitable for all seasons, as it has one of the most extensive menus, challenging Tuscany Beach further down the road on number of menu items!

The Pepper Club on the Beach was called Summerville before it went into liquidation, and was taken over by the owners of The Promenade in Camps Bay.  The Solomon Brothers are not the favourite landlords in Cape Town, but they have money, and they invest heavily in the projects they take on.   When they built the Pepper Club Hotel in the center of town, on the corners of Pepper, Long, Loop and Bloem Streets, they came up with a novel idea of bringing their hotel guests to Camps Bay, by renaming Summerville as Pepper Club on the Beach, offering the Pepper Club hotel guests a free transfer to Camps Bay in the hotel’s Rolls Royce Phantom, and usage of deck chairs, beach towels and a shower facility, in the hope that they will eat at the Camps Bay restaurant.   The manager was honest in telling us that the Pepper Club Hotel guests are still slow in making the journey to the beach in Camps Bay, given the weather, and that the hotel only opened in April. 

As the owner of a guest house in Camps Bay, I received a voucher to try out the restaurant a few months ago.  Somehow I never got to go.   A call from the General Manager of Pepper Club on the Beach, Gavin Lockitch, inviting me to try the restaurant, was the call to action which my colleague and I needed to get us to try out the restaurant.   Our “welcome” outside the blustery entrance to the restaurant was odd, in that the hostess would not let us inside until we told her our name.  We could see that only one other table was occupied, so that availability of tables, or matching our booking with that on a list, would have been simple.    She did not appreciate my feedback in this regard.  

The restaurant is large, probably seating 100 – 150 persons, so it needs lots of guests to make it buzz.  With three tables filled in total during the evening, this was difficult, although the Buena Vista Social Club CD playing initially helped “fill” the space.   In some sections of the restaurant the tables are further apart, which makes it feel even bigger.  A private smoking dining room can seat up to 20 persons.   The colour scheme is neutral, with white and beige.   Nothing stands out decor wise, but many tiny downlighters give the restaurant a sophisticated touch.   The chairs are comfortable.   The only splash of colour is the collection of red menus.   The deck outside the restaurant has new furniture, and new heaters will make it comfortable to sit outside on cooler evenings.

We met two Managers, one newer, and the other, Lynn, had been at Summerville.  Ten of the Summerville staff are at Pepper Club.  We had the feeling that we were almost “over serviced”, there being more staff on duty than patrons in the restaurant.  The Austrian chef Reinhard Schwaihofer came to visit our table, to tell us about his favourite dishes on the menu, a welcome touch.   Reinhard was previously at Summerville, and has worked at Zerbans, Fancourt and the Paternoster Lodge, amongst others, in his 20 years in this country.  Carsten Kocke was the Executive Chef previously, and was a Michelin-starred chef.   It was surprising to receive an e-mail from him recently, requesting that his past connection to the Pepper Club be removed from the www.campsbayinfo.com/blog.  No one wanted to tell us why the chef had left after such a short time at the Pepper Club.   

Our waiter offered us a drink while we paged through the big red plastic menus and winelist, branded on the outside but difficult to read, and therefore difficult to differentiate between the two documents.  The menu contains a vast choice, and contains many of the Summerville items, to which has been added burgers, sandwiches, and other light meals which are served outside of lunch and dinner times.   Starters are expensive, in ranging from R 64 for Calamari to a Lobster avacado cocktail at R 105. Five salads are offered, including a Prawn and Avocado salad at R 89.  Steaks range from R 120 for a 200g ladies’ fillet to R 150 for a 300 g beef fillet, and they are served with a choice of two side orders, including chips, salad, mushrooms, and mash. Four sauces can be ordered additionally, each costing R 25.   Other interesting dishes are the Cape Malay lamb curry (R 130), Trio of game (R 165), 13 fish dishes (the cheapest seafood platter for one costs R265), and six pasta dishes start from R 70, five pasta types available for each dish.   Close to 30 sushi options are available as well. 

Once we placed our order, we received European style rolls with cumin seed, served with the most attractively presented garlic butter, herb butter and paprika butter.   My Avocado Ritz (R79), a favourite, was excellent, with the avocado taken out of the skin, and the three prawns thick and juicy.  I could only fault the over-decoration of the plate with bits of lettuce, paprika and tomato.   My colleague was very happy with her grilled calamari starter (R64).   For the main course I enjoyed veal cutlet (R130), looking and tasting as if it came straight off the “braai”, absolutely tender, placed on top of the best mash I have ever eaten, as well as three asparagus spears.    My colleague’s herb-crusted ostrich steak (R148) was too large (250g) for her to finish.   The portions are generous, and so too was the Apfelstrudel (R55), which Chef Reinhard recommended as his speciality.  It was served warm, with well-cooked apple and large raisins, “oven fresh” the Austrian way, said Chef Reinhard.   A very generous portion of real fresh cream came with the dessert.    

The winelist is even more extensive than the menu, running to ten pages, a page per variety.  Laurent Perrier is the most pricy of the three champagne brands stocked, at R1490, and Pongracz Desidirius the most expensive of the four sparkling wines, at R395 – however, the standard Pongracz costs R169.  Sauvignon Blanc wines feature most prominently on the list, including Southern Right (R149), Neil Ellis Groenkloof (R158), Steenberg (R167), and Iona (R198).   Twelve wines-by-the-glass are offered, and the reds include L’Omarins Terra Del Capo Sangiovese (R38), Warwick 3 Cape Ladies (R58), and Porcupine Ridge (R32).   The Ridgeback Shiraz, one of the two shirazes which can be ordered by the glass, was out of stock, but the waiter brought an Asara with the same vintage in its place, a commendable gesture.  Corkage is R25 for the first bottle, and R40 thereafter.

My colleague and I were most pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed our dinner, and would return and recommend it to our guest house guests.   One would hope that it would fill up, to give the large restaurant more of a buzz and a vibe,

Pepper Club on the Beach, The Promenade, Victoria Road, Camps Bay.  Tel 021 438-3174.  www.pepperclubonthebeach.co.za. (only the menu is available)

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

World Cup teams give Cape Town a red card

The tourism industry in Cape Town will be disappointed that none of the 32 World Cup teams have chosen a base camp in or near Cape Town.   The base camp location has an important attraction for fans, who want to stay in the same towns and cities as their home team. 

Despite a deadline of the end of last month, FIFA has given the teams one more week to finalise their choice.  Six teams have not yet announced their final base camp choice.

The Western Cape has 2 teams (France and Denmark) staying in Knysna at Pezula and Simola, respectively, and Japan will be based in George at the Fancourt Hotel. 

Gauteng has the most teams to date, who chose the province for the altitude for their practice sessions, the top quality sport facilities and top quality accommodation : The Netherlands, South Africa, Portugal, Serbia, New Zealand, Slovenia, Brazil, Australia, Honduras, Switzerland, North Korea, and Mexico. 

Pretoria has attracted USA, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, and Argentina.   KwaZulu-Natal has secured Algeria, Ivory Coast, Greece, and Paraguay.   Uruguay is staying in Kimberley.   Ghana  is staying in White River. England and South Korea are staying in Rustenberg.  Chile is staying in Mapumalanga.   Spain has not chosen between Rustenburg and Potchefstroom yet.

Many municipalities spent big money trying to encourage teams to set up base camps in their towns.  Mossel Bay was sure that it had bagged Paraguay, and both Val du Vie and Pearl Valley outside Franschhoek were rumoured to have signed up a team.  The Sunday Times reports that the Mossel Bay municipality spent R 200 million on its bid, and had launched an extensive Spanish language campaign for tourism players in the town.   Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth and East London also did not attract any base camps.

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

FIFA 2010 comes to Cape Town early!

Cape Town is in  a frenzy to beautify itself before the world’s media and the FIFA big brass come to Cape Town for the FIFA Final draw on 4 December, which will be held in the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

Roadworks are hastily being completed on Buitengracht Street, near the Convention Centre, to make Cape Town look at its best for the very important event in the FIFA 2010 World Cup programme.

For the first time, the driving and advertising exclusion zone has been announced, simply by an ad in the Cape Argus, outlining the ‘Final Draw Controlled Access and Exclusion Zones’.

The block of streets between Ross Street, 2 streets parallel to Buitengracht Street in Green Point/De Waterkant and Parliament Street, and Buitensingel Street/N1/N2 entrances to Buitengracht Street, now has restrictions placed upon it until 12 December, in terms of the City of Cape Town’s 2010 By-law.   No advertising linked to the World Cup may appear in this zone in the period specified, without formal FIFA permission, and businesses may also not “change their normal business operation without approval from the City of Cape Town”, says the ad!   The ad warns that access into the zone on 4 December may be restricted.

On the day of the Final Draw, a public viewing area will be established at the top of Long Street, and restaurants in the area are stocking up on supplies for thirsty soccer fans, fearing lack of access for deliveries on the big day.   It is expected that 20 000 visitors will attend the Final Draw party in Long Street.   A section of Long Street will be cordoned off on 3 December already, reports the Cape Argus.

The FIFA Final Draw will randomly select which teams play against each other in which locations, influencing where the teams are based during the World Cup period, and is the precursor to accommodation bookings and other arrangements for the big soccer event.

At the Final Draw FIFA President Sepp Blatter is also expected to announce the location of the Fan Fest venues for 2010.

The 32 teams that have qualified for the 2010 World Cup are:   Portugal, France (a controversial match, for which a replay is being demanded by the Irish), Slovenia, Greece, Algeria, Uruguay, Japan, the Netherlands, North Korea, Australia, South Korea, the USA, Brazil, Ghana, England, Paraguay, Spain, Denmark, Ivory Coast, Chile, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Serbia, Argentina, Switzerland, Honduras, Slovakia, Nigeria, Cameroon, New Zealand and South Africa.

The Japanese team is setting up its base camp at Fancourt in George, while the German team is said to be considering Val de Vie, between Paarl and Franschhoek.

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