Last night I returned from the Hermanus FynArts Festival, having spent six days of the Festival ten-day period enjoying a feast of a fine Festival! I have experienced Festivals in my time, but never for so long a period, and none so extensive in content as the Hermanus FynArts Festival. I cannot wait for the 2017 Festival, to be held from 9 to 18 June 2017! Continue reading →
What a clever idea of the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa to combine its special location at the foot of the Twelve Apostles and its starlit sky with a special dinner, calling it strikingly ‘Astronomy Gastronomy‘!
I had invited my friend Bettie Coetzee Lambrecht to join me, and by luck we had chosen the perfect evening for the stargazing, having been offered a choice of two dates by FIVESTAR PR, from whom we had received the invitation on behalf of the Twelve Apostles. The dinner was held at The Café Grill, but with a special reduced menu for the evening having been compiled from the Azure menu, and having been prepared by Executive Chef Christo Pretorius and his deputy Chef Chris Mare. We were welcomed with a glass of Nederburg Brut NV, and soon Kechil Kirkham, one of our astronomy guides came to greet us, being one of two partners of Over the Moon Astronomy Tours, with Chris de Coning. Kechil is a presenter on FMR on Fridays at 18h00, talking about astronomy, Bettie shared, listening to her program regularly. Michael Nel, the new General Manager of the hotel after Horst Frehse was promoted to Executive Director of the Continue reading →
After two disastrous years, New Media Publishing was brave enough to take stock earlier this year, and asked the industry what it wanted in the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards. Last night that hard work paid off, with a new venue for the event, a slick and short presentation, new Awards introduced, and three new restaurants making the Top 10 Restaurant list. The surprise was the emotion which the chefs expressed when receiving their plaques, challenging MasterChef SA Season 2 on tears!
We were one of the interviewees, meeting with Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly, its GM Aileen Lamb, MD Bridget McCarney, and Director Irna van Zyl. We were forthright in our feedback and suggestions, including that a team of judges would be needed again (we suggested Garth Stroebel, and have yet to meet him!). We fed back that the preferential relationship with Luke Dale-Roberts in TASTE magazine (also published by New Media Publishing, and of which Abigail is the Food Editor) was unfair towards all other chefs, by featuring him every month – we were told that Woolworths had a contract with him, and therefore he received the coverage in the magazine. This contract was terminated earlier this year, which is excellent news. Other recommendations can be read here. Flowing from the interviews and discussions with previous Top 20 chefs and restaurant managers, owners, and suppliers, as well as media representatives and bloggers, New Media Publishing allowed restaurants to apply to be included in the Eat Out Top 500 Restaurant List, which was selected by a Continue reading →
When Michael Olivier first launched Crush! food and wine digital magazine three years ago, it was evident that he and his team had no experience in the design and publishing of a magazine generally, and a digital magazine specifically. We wrote critically about the first few issues, but no feedback was accepted nor reacted to, and Olivier appeared to have lost advertising revenue as a result, thus leaving the magazine about a year ago. His departure appears to have rejuvenated the magazine, and it has improved vastly!
The response by Olivier and his Crush! writers David Cope (@Foodie_za) and Andy Fenner (@JamieWhoSA in those days) to our feedback about the magazine at that time was to create the Whalespotter Twitter defamation account led by Cope, and condoned by Continue reading →
Ten days ago we wrote about the unethical reviews of wines by Michael Olivier, without acknowledging that most of his ‘Winery Partners’ have paid for the coverage on his blog, on his Twitter account, and in his FMR wine slot. We also wrote about the unethical restaurant reviews done on IntertwEAT/TweetCritique by Lionel Lelyveld, without disclosing that every three course meal for two persons he has written about is received free of charge.
Interesting is how differently the two writers have reacted to our blogpost:
Lelyveld has not responded to the blogpost at all, but we have noticed in the past week that he has started simultaneously Tweeting restaurant reviews from the UK and the Cape. We have also noticed that he has added a hint of criticism to some of his ‘review’ Tweets, which we have not seen before. What is funny, but probably not visible to most of our Followers, is that Lelyveld has been particularly generous with his Retweets of our Restaurant-related Tweets, Continue reading →
Tweeters are starting to express their frustration at being misled by two Cape Town based reviewers, Lionel Lelyveld, Tweeting about restaurants as @IntertwEAT, and Michael Olivier, Tweeting as @FoodWineGuru about wines.
What the two Tweeters have in common is that neither reveal to the readers of their blogs/websites nor in their Tweets (nor to the Fine Music Radio FMR listeners) that they have received their meals for free in the case of Lelyveld, and that the wine reviews are part of an advertising package offered by Olivier, showing that both the reviewers have no ethics in misleading their Twitter Followers and blog readers, and radio listeners.
Michael Olivier has been around for a while, and appears to have needed a new source Continue reading →
Olivier studied at the Cordon Bleue Cookery School in London, has done PR for the Lanzerac Hotel, has owned restaurants (Paddagang, Burgundy and Parks), has been a wine consultant to Pick ‘n Pay, has published books (including one called ‘Crush! 100 wines to drink now’), and presents wine programmes on Classic FM and on FMR radio stations. He announced the launch of Crush! at the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting in May, with an original launch date of 3 June. The actual publication date was a month later.
Digital magazines have been published in the United Kingdom for a number of years already, but have not made it into South Africa until now due to the lack of ample broadband capacity. Crush! is published with software bought from Redonline, a British company which publishes GQ, Tesco, FHM and many other digital titles. It is available for free to what is projected will be just under 1 million readers, and its production is funded by advertising, sponsorships and product placements. The advertising rates seem reasonable, at a discounted R 7548 for a double page spread for the first three issues.
For me Crush! is a let-down, not only technically, in navigating the 26 pages of the digital magazine, but also in terms of its content:
1. Its size is smaller than the full screen size, giving the impression of an A5 magazine, something one takes less seriously than an A4 size.
2. One has to click to the top right hand corner of the right page to turn the pages – it will take some time for one to get used to doing this expertly, without feeling silly in turning the pages efficiently (luckily I saw a “fools’ guide” to turning the pages at the top left, which shows arrows to the right and to the left).
3. The cover of a magazine is what sells it – I found Crush!’s cover to be unattractive and far too busy, with all sorts of electronic “nick-nacks” to attract one’s attention, seriously lacking a good design hand.
4. I missed an “Ed’s letter”, in which Michael should explain what Crush! stands for, remind readers of his background and strengths, and detail who is in his editorial and production team.
5. Michael does talk on a YouTube video on the third page, but unfortunately the “play” button is on top of his face, a design problem that can easily be addressed.
6. Crush! has little advertising, but needs advertising support to finance the venture and to pay the royalties to Redonline. The Pepenero/Paranga/Kove/Zenzero group, Pick ‘n Pay, Old Mutual, Constantia Glen and Pongracz are direct advertisers. I liked the more subtle advertorial feel of the Arabella wines page. The double page spread on Warwick is the most attractive of all pages in Crush!, in my opinion, and while I am sure that it is paid-for advertorial, it is the “cleanest” page, with the fewest “gimmicks” and pop-ups of all.
7. Given the cost of setting up such a venture, one wonders if it is Pick ‘n Pay financing the venture, given Olivier’s relationship with them.
8. Having been earmarked for launch more than a month ago, most of the copy probably was written at that time. The danger with a delay is that the information gets dated, and the page written by JP Rossouw is dated in two respects – JP Rossouw’s image has been seriously dented by the reaction to his La Mouette review (read here). Olivier would have done better to write the page himself. Secondly, Rossouw chose to focus on La Colombe, and Luke Dale-Roberts, just 2 days after the La Colombe chef announced that he is no longer the Executive Chef of the San Pellegrino Top 50 Restaurant in the World restaurant! Ironically, it was Rossouw that alerted the industry to this news, but the information about Luke Dale-Roberts’ relationship with La Colombe was not updated in the two days before launching the publication. The fact that Rossouw’s Restaurants book is offered for sale on the page commercialises the page and reduces its credibility even further. When entering the La Colombe competition, I lost the link to the page I was on, and had to go back to the Homepage, and run through all the pages again. In the running link it mentions, amongst others, that JP Rossouw has reviewed La Colombe, but there is no review! The next issue of Crush! is to feature a review of a Johannesburg restaurant – while I understand that Crush! is a national publication, reviews about restaurants in other areas have little interest for Cape Town readers, a weakness Rossouw faces with his on-line reviews too.
9. Alongside a recipe for Salmon Fishcakes, as well as on the “High Five” wine page, the labels of the bottles of the wine options suggested are unreadable. One is encouraged to click onto each bottle to “roll it over”, but it only pops up with information about that particular wine.
10. A profile of Chef Liam Tomlin of the Chef’s Warehouse and Cookery School is disappointing, in that little information is provided on the page, which mainly is filled with a photograph of Tomlin. If one clicks on a small “interview” button, Tomlin’s answers to a set of questions are provided, hardly giving one a feel for the character and personality of Tomlin, nor of his background.
11. Every page has a running script at the top, a little like on SkyNews and other news television stations, distracting one’s attention from the main body of the page.
12. The “back’ page refers to an Uwe Koetter competition, and it is not immediately clear that one does not have to do anything to stand a chance to win jewellery.
In general I found Crush! to be too superficial in that it lacks depth; it is too “thin” in terms of number of pages compared to a regular magazine; it is too hard-sell in encouraging one to buy wines via ‘Crush Cellar’ which takes one to Grapefuel, travel (never heard of Pick ‘n Pay having a travel agency), and Rossouw’s book; and it is too “busy” in terms of pop-ups, running messages and buttons one has to click to read further information. Ultimately, a digital magazine cannot compete with a glossy printed one. It cannot be kept for future reference, it cannot be displayed on a coffee table, one cannot tear a page out of it, and it does not offer 100 pages or so of reading joy in bed, which a magazine can do.
To read Crush!, click here. Twitter: @Crush_online
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com