Last week I ate lunch at Mondiall twice. The first was a family lunch, and the second was an invitation to try the new Winter Menu at Mondiall and to meet new Chef Riaan Burger, who has been at the restaurant for six weeks. The experiences were chalk and cheese. Mondiall has been repositioned as a French Brasserie, serving ‘refined comfort food’, rather than as an around-the-world restaurant when it opened.
The family lunch followed the scattering of the ashes of our late mother, which we had done in Table Bay on the yacht IQ, which moors outside Mondiall. I was very disappointed with the lunch, which was a special group menu, a reduced version of former Chef Peter Tempelhoff’s menu. Chef Riaan was not working on the Freedom Day public holiday, owner Patrick Symington was not there, and Reservation Manager Mandy Smith whom I had dealt with in making the booking and discussing the menu, was not there either. The let-down was the waitress, and poor communication between Mandy and the Manager Franco. The food quality was not as expected either. I admire Patrick for proactively sending a sms to ask how the lunch went, and I told him about my disappointment. What was amazing was the glazed pork belly, offered as a Tapas dish, served with crackling, and a honey soy glaze. This dish remains on the new menu. Continue reading →
The Sweet Service Award goes to the Grass Consumer Action group, which is keeping retailers generally, and Woolworths specifically, on their toes in respect of the humane treatment of their suppliers’ animals, and the ethical and honest labeling of products. Ayrshire milk and cream has been misleadingly labeled, and falsely described as organic, just because (only half of) the cows eat grass; products containing GMO ingredients should be better identified and those ingredients removed; the Sustainability series ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa‘ has been a greenwash of Woolworths’ misleading consumer communication; and more. Every time Grass challenges Woolworths on an ethical issue, the retail adjusts its labels!
The Sour Service Award goes to Pick ‘n Pay in the V&A Waterfront, and its manager Faizel, the only manager on duty on a recent Sunday evening. I had popped in to buy some bread and bananas, and saw the fruit weighing lady and a colleague chatting away, one even sitting down on the boxes of paw paws. I asked her what the problem was, and was told that she was ill. I asked why she didn’t go home if ill, but she said she was not allowed to. From the time I saw a Pick ‘n Pay staff member and requested her assistance to find the store manager, it took 15 minutes for Faizel to arrive at the till, where I was waiting for him, having already paid. He was rude in telling me that it is the staff member’s duty to tell him when they are ill, not that of customers! Cheekily he asked me if that was the reason why I had called for him!
The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog. Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at email@example.com. Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog. FOR THE DURATION OF MASTERCHEF SA SEASON 3 WE ARE MOVING THE SWEET & SOUR SERVICE AWARDS TO SATURDAYS.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: click here
I have no idea who heads up Woolworths’ Marketing department, but it seems that the retailer has lost the plot! Once the darling of all, seen to be above reproach in the quality of the products it sells and the lengths that Woolworths will go to find the most organic and animal-friendly produce for its customers, it is being lambasted for copying other brands, for importing tomatoes, peas and more, and for making misleading claims about its products. In addition, it seems to have lost the link between its expensive sponsorship of TV food programmes and its stores!
Let’s start with ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’, a programme which has been running on SABC3 for the past 9 weeks, a travelogue of our beautiful country, and documentation of Woolworths’ sourcing of sustainable and ethical produce, or so it is presented. We have been exposed to Woolworths suppliers of tomatoes in Stellenbosch, organic wines made in Franschhoek, apples and pears grown in Grabouw, SASSI-friendly fish sourcing, and the pasture-fed lamb from the Karoo. Criticism has been leveled about the use of an Australian surfer who came third in MasterChef Australia in 2011, as the tour guide to our country and the guide to its sustainable food and wine treasure chest, a self-confessed ‘cooker’ and not a chef! The dishes in the eight episodes to date have been as basic as salads, pizzas, and sandwiches, with a mussel pot and an Eton Mess too. In some episodes the Woolworths punt has been so strong (i.e. the tomato growing) that it has become irritating, but of late the strong Woolworths promotion has been toned down. Surprising is the low-key advertising for Woolworths in its half-hour episodes, and is nothing as mouthwatering as the Woolworths’ commercials we have seen on MasterChef SA Seasons 1 and 2. Nedbank is the other Continue reading →