Last night I attended the reopening event of The Crypt Jazz Club, located below St George’s Cathedral on Wale Street in Cape Town. It is the only live jazz venue in the city centre, and is a manifestation of Cape Town’s reputation as a Jazz City, through its home-grown jazz talent and its annual Cape Town Jazz Festival. Continue reading →
Yesterday Archbishop Desmond Tutu celebrated his 86th Birthday. To commemorate this special day for one of Cape Town’s Nobel Peace Prize laureates, affectionately known as The Arch, the City of Cape Town and Design Indaba created Arch for Arch at the entrance to The Company’s Garden, next to St Georges Cathedral, at the corner of Wale and Adderley Streets.
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A chance notice about Ike Moriz performing at the recently opened The Crypt Jazz Restaurant below St George’s Cathedral last night caught my eye, and turned out to be a most enjoyable evening, with excellent music and ambiance, live jazz being on offer five evenings a week. The service was sadly lacking.
The termination of the lease of the coffee shop which previously operated in the space led the Dean of St George’s Cathedral to contact Mario Thompson, the first owner of Gourmet Burger, which he had sold on to the owners of the ex-Caveau around the corner. Simultaneously the Dean had been approached by Derk Blaisse, a jazz lover from Franschhoek, and leader of the Cape Continue reading →
I am not politically-inclined, do not belong to a political party, nor do I vote. I am concerned however when I see the word ‘apartheid’ dragged into tourism communication, either to Cape Town’s ‘benefit’ (e.g. the bid for Cape Town as World Design Capital 2014) or detriment. I was surprised to see an article on Cape Town Tourism’s website, defending a particularly nasty article in The Observer (a Sunday UK paper with about 1,2 million readers), with a photograph taken from The Promenade in Camps Bay, about Desmond Tutu’s birthday (‘Desmond Tutu’s dreams for Cape Town fade as informal apartheid grips the city’).
The Observer writer David Smith focused on Archbishop Tutu’s birthday last Friday, celebrated in St George’s Cathedral, the ‘fortress of resistance to racial apartheid‘, as his opening shot! The article is a lengthy tome of attack against Cape Town, for being the ‘cancer of injustice, racial segregation and bitter division’, for its contrast of ‘opera houses’ (sic), ‘literary festivals’ (sic), ‘internet entrepreneurs’, ‘luxury mansions’, and ‘prosperous California-style wine estates’. It states that ‘millions (sic) of tourists’ arriving in the city will see the ‘other’ Cape Town, with shacks, violence, poverty, and ‘non-white’, resulting in a Cape Town that ‘remains an apartheid city in all but name’, contrary to what Tutu stands for, speaks the article on his behalf. The rest of the article justifies this statement, going back to Jan van Riebeeck as the real architect of segregation. President Zuma is quoted as having said earlier this year that Cape Town is a “‘racist’ place with an ‘extremely apartheid system (sic)’“. The DA is labelled as ‘a front for the wealthy white elite’. Andrew Boraine of the Cape Town Partnership has the closing word, quoting Tutu: ‘winning freedom is one thing – using it is twice as hard’. Heavy stuff indeed, and not for the faint-hearted to defend, especially not appropriate for the city’s tourism body to climb into the boxing ring for in our opinion, given only four incidental references to tourism:
* Staff make up beds in 5-star hotel beds, and then come home to sleep on the floor
* Staff cook the best meals for guests, and then live off a slice of bread
* ‘ Cape Town is largely for the benefit and entertainment of tourists’
* Cape Town is the world’s top tourist destination
Had I been the guardian of the city of Cape Town, I would have:
* Got Archbishop Tutu to speak for himself, and respond, in the unique and direct way only he can (he is not interviewed, and no quotes from him are mentioned, and neither is the Dalai Lama’s cancelled visit
* Got our feisty Premier Helen Zille and Mayor Patricia de Lille to write the response, the latter’s appointment being an excellent counter to the article in itself.
* pointed out that the hospitality industry has a Minimum Wage, currently R 2323 per month
* countered that Cape Town has a population of 4 – 5 million residents that love living here, irrespective of their skin colour
* corrected the information, in that there is only one opera house, and that one literary festival has taken place for the first time last month
* highlighted that it is the tourists who have visited Cape Town and seen the reality of the haves and have-nots in our city, as one would see in every city in the world, even in London, and who have voted to give Cape Town the top tourism accolades.
* highlighted the hospitality sector GM’s, sommeliers, restaurant managers, and other management staff, who have reached their professional positions, despite their past.
* corrected the tourism arrival figure quoted
Instead, Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, mistakenly referring to the article being in The Guardian, wrote awkwardly about ‘the juxtaposition between Cape Town’s poor and wealthy communities’,and that the legacy of apartheid ‘is a disjointed physical landscape and economic society..‘, digging a terrible hole for herself and our city as she goes on to write that for many of Cape Town’s residents it is ‘not yet a great place to live’! None of this has anything to do with tourism at all, and she is the wrong person to challenge a leading UK newspaper, and very clearly out of her depth in defending a past political system. She writes that Cape Town will be ‘reimaging’ as a ‘more livable space for all‘. She quotes the city’s World Design Capital 2014 bid, in ‘shedding light on sustainable design’. Mrs Helmbold does get to tourism in her reply, highlighting the size of the industry and its employment of 300000 staff (no source supplied). She writes that the City of Cape Town, with the tourism industry, has embraced ‘Responsible Tourism’, in that tourism ‘creates better places for people to live in, and better places to visit’. She concludes that ‘tourism is the lifeline to livelihood”.
I wrote to Mrs Helmbold yesterday, asking her why she had responded, and if she had sent her reply to the newspaper. This was her response:“Cape Town Tourism, as industry association and destination marketing agency for Cape Town, will respond from time to time as appropriate on issues that could affect our industry and/or destination brand. It is important to illustrate the positive role and contribution of tourism to Cape Town’s economy and the commitment from tourism to contribute to making Cape Town a more livable city through embracing responsible tourism principles and practices. We have submitted our response directly to the Guardian (sic) and posted a copy on our industry website where we can direct industry queries about the article. The Guardian has not yet published our response”.
One hopes that Cape Town Tourism’s response is not published in The Observer, and that the tourism body will invite the journalist to Cape Town, to personally showcase the great opportunities in tourism being afforded to all its citizens.
POSTSCRIPT 15/10: We have received the following feedback from Lisa Harlow from the UK: Well I am a Times / Sunday Times reader and still agree with Nick! I wouldn’t worry too much about this report – quite typical of the Guardian and Observer. But more importantly was the fairly recent good coverage of South Africa in the Saturday Telegraph. However, recession still goes on in the UK, and this is more of a hurdle to overcome for tourism. Lets see how successful BA are with their extra Cape Town flights for the summer season…”
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
Cape Town has a super fun bakery that pulls out all the stops to make a special person’s birthday a special one, the creativity of Charly’s Bakery knowing no bounds. Strictly speaking, Charly’s Bakery should be called Jacqui’s Bakery, as it is Jacqui Biess who is the energetic and creative powerhouse running Charly’s Bakery with her three daughters Alex, Daniella and Roche.
In honour of Nelson Mandela’s birthday on Sunday, Jacqui has been infected by the spirit of unity and goodwill amongst South Africans resulting from the World Cup, and is calling on Capetonians to join her, her family, staff and friends in walking the Madiba Unity Fan Walk on Madiba’s special 92nd birthday. At the end of the Walk, Charly’s Bakery will share a special 4-tiered Golden Wicked chocolate birthday cake with the walkers, serving at least 300, and singing Happy Birthday to Mandela.
Says Jacqui: “South Africans experienced a month of magic. We felt alive, united and inspired. We felt safe. We walked the streets of Cape Town for the first time in years and felt the magic of our city. Our relationship with our country and our people grew to new heights. We fell in love with our country again. This walk is not political, it’s not about blame, it is about keeping the gees and unity of the World Cup alive…opening our hearts and keeping South African unity a reality. Our Tata has shown us what it means to be free and to be able to live without fear of being who you are. He did it for 67 years, we can do it for 67 minutes”.
The planned route starts off at 12h00 on Sunday at St George’s Cathedral, moves along St George’s Mall, and links up with the bridge which crosses over Buitengracht Street, onto the Prestwich Memorial precinct at St Andrews Church (at Truth Coffees). The Fan Walk will link in with the Ubuntu Festival, which takes place this weekend. DJ’s and live musicians such as Hot Water, The Gugulethu Tenors, Coda, Sterling EQ, and Mthika will peform along the route. There will be a strong CCID presence in the city.
Charly’s Bakery was started by Jacqui’s husband Karl-Heinz (Charly). After completing his baking apprenticeship at Cafe Anton in Swakopmund, Charly opened a cake and coffee shop on Thibault Square, and then Charly’s Cafe in the V&A Waterfront, their breakfasts being particularly popular, as were their buffet lunches. The next move was to Roeland Street, where Jacqui and Charly set up a wholesale bakery for two years, before switching to retail sales. They never advertised, but relied on word-of-mouth from their happy customers to grow their business. They received coverage in magazines regularly, being close to the offices of Associated Magazines, and ad agencies such as Ogilvy & Mather. It was their willingness “to play” when receiving an interesting challenge for a shoot that made them popular amongst the media. Jacqui recalled how she was given six hours’ notice from Jane Raphaely of Associated Magazines to do a high tea for Oprah Winfrey at their offices. She was asked to make a cake for Archbishop Tutu’s 75th birthday, reflecting his life. They have recently gone onto Twitter, and will be starting a blog soon.
A year ago Charly’s Bakery moved out of their Roeland Street location as the building is earmarked for demolition. Jacqui looked for a building she could own independently, and was delighted when she could first lease and now buy the current building in Canterbury Street, which was previously the Beinkenstadt Bookshop, and its 1898 heritage connected with her Jewish soul. She renovated the building, keeping everything she could – the bookshelves were reused, and the pressed lead ceilings were renovated. The outside of the building took five weeks to paint, and looks like a heavenly pink iced cake.
A Bakers’ supplies store will open in the upstairs floor, stocking icings, coloured dough, ganaches, and cake decorations, to enable working and upmarket moms to bake their own special birthday cakes. The TV reality programme “Cake Boss” has encouraged a greater focus on baking and decorating, says Jacqui. Jacqui is working on a book documenting the story of Charly’s Bakery.
Charly worked himself out of the business three years ago, training his staff and daughters in fundamental cake baking, and this opened the door to Jacqui and her team to pursue creativity, playing with decorations, and having fun, “finding their inner child”. They have no rules, and push the boat with words and visuals on their personalised cakes and cupcakes. They use attractive pink and white striped boxes for their cakes, the words “mucking afazing” on them being an indication of their “wicked” humour! I asked Jacqui whether she would move into food service again, given her previous experience in doing buffets, as she does sell quiches and pies, as well as cakes and coffees, for sit-down guests. She is focused on her core business, which is cakes, and wants to keep it that way, she says.
Birthday cakes and cupcakes for parties top the pops at Charly’s Bakery, but wedding cakes also keep them busy, with 5 – 7 orders per weekend in summer. Charly’s Bakery works with Frances Bell, a classic cake decorator, and they make a good team in using Frances’ classical skills and marrying them with their own funky and fun decorating. The bakery is open for customers to see, at least the decorating part of it, and the shelves display the cakes awaiting collection. The World Cup inspired the Charly’s Bakery team to score with their country-theme cupcakes, and the football theme they applied in so many fun and creative ways. Cakes range in price from R145 â€“ R195, while the Decadent Chocolate Cakes range from R175 – R225.
It is rare that a family team gets on so well to all be involved in the business, and having fun while doing so. Jacqui Biess is a character, a mensch, no-nonsense, a powerhouse, creative, goal-orientated, and a bit of a rebel, smoking her self-rolled Drum Original tobacco-filled cigarettes. But most of all she has the “gees”, and she is determined to share it with her fellow Capetonians in honour of the father of our democracy.
Charly’s Bakery, 38 Canterbury Street, Tel 021 461-5181. www.charlysbakery.co.za Twitter @charlysbakery. Mondays â€“ Saturdays. Closed for winter break 1 – 23 August.
POSTSCRIPT 18/7: It is estimated that 1 500 Capetonians particpated in the Madiba Unity Fan Walk today, an astounding turnout. Coverage on e-tv, the Weekend Argus, Voice of the Cape, and Cape Talk, as well as Tweets on Twitter helped to create awareness for the event, which was blessed by incredible weather. The cake (photograph above), baked in honour of Nelson Mandela’s birthday was shared with the walkers.
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com
The article motivates Cape Town for its “dramatic location, tumultuous history and collision of cultures, Cape Town should be on everyone’s wish-list. In January South Africa’s most attractive city offers the ideal escape from the northern hemisphere winter: near-perfect days and cool nights. And, bluntly, it’s a cheap city: the South African rand has mirrored sterling’s decline, and the exchange rate at the start of this year is exactly the same as a year ago.”
The article recommends accommodation in the Mount Nelson, or the “boutique hotel for a more modest option”, An African Villa, or Cape Town Backpackers. It recommends the following for the 48-hour visit: going up Table Mountain with the cable car, window shopping in Long Street, lunch at the Noon Gun restaurant to eat koeksisters, museum visits, visiting the Castle, dinner at Nyoni’s Kraal (“dining with the locals”!), attending a church service at St George’s Cathedral, the Footstep’s to Freedom city walk, lunch at Andiamo in De Waterkant, a picnic in Kirstenbosch, and wine-tasting in Constantia.
Sadly, the article has neglected mentioning the beauty and popularity of Camps Bay’s and Clifton’s beaches, and the restaurants in Camps Bay, which are jam-packed this summer.