Tag Archives: My-Easy-Cooking

SABC2 ‘Dinner Divas’ a winning recipe, first Food Blogger TV cook-off in the world!

Today an exciting new reality TV series starts airing on SABC2 at 8h30, which will do for food blogging locally what the release of the movie ‘Julie and Julia’ did internationally three years ago. ‘Dinner Divas’ is a 13-part series with 12 contestant Food Bloggers, vying for the title of the Ultimate Dinner Diva 2012, with prizes to the value of close to R100000.  It is the first food blogger TV series cook-off in the world.

2 Blonds and a Redhead Filming Producer Anne Myers is a Diva in her own right, having produced many programmes and Advertising Funded Programmes (AFPs) for SABC2 and SABC3 over the past 27 years, the latter being televised credible advertorials for sponsor brands.   Myers had watched MasterChef SA, and found that it had many deficiencies, given her production experience, and therefore devised the unique ‘Dinner Divas’ concept, signing up sponsors, contracted with SABC2, invited food personalities as judges, and used Social Media to find 12 suitable food bloggers, the majority being from Cape Town. The shoot took place at Kitchen Cowboys, which belongs to MasterChef SA Judge Pete Goffe-Wood.

The twelve Food Bloggers are Anel Potgieter (‘Life is a Zoo Biscuit‘ Blog), Barry Gerber (‘What’s Cooking’ Blog), Candice Le Noury (‘Gorgeous Gourmet’ Blog), Janice Tripepi (‘janicetripepi‘ Blog), Kate Liquorish ‘undomestiKATEd’ Blog), Kristy Snell (‘FoodMonger‘ Blog), Nina Timm (‘My Easy Cooking’ Blog), Sue Green (‘Sous Chef’ Blog), Tami Magnin (‘Rumtumtiggs’ Blog), Thuli Gogela (‘Mzansi Style Cuisine’ Blog), Usha Singh (‘Healthy Vegetarian Foods’ Blog), and Zirkie Schroeder (‘PinkPolkaDotFood’ Blog).  Both Anel and Candice entered MasterChef SA, and did not make the Nederburg kitchen. Anel shared that not making it on MasterChef SA had triggered off a depression, which she tried to get out of by eating Zoo biscuits, and led to her creating her Blog as a type of therapy. Initially she and Candice (photograph left) were hesitant about participating on ‘Dinner Divas’, given the stress they experienced at MasterChef SA, which had taken the fun out of food making, but they loved the fun of ‘Divine Divas’. Janice shared that participating in ‘Dinner Divas’ had led her to relook her Blog, and to ‘make it even more perfect’. She raised the question many Bloggers ask: ‘Who is reading my Blog?’. Candice said that ‘Divine Divas’ had re-inspired her to become a better cook and blogger. Anel blogs once a week on average, and said that it takes up to ten hours to write a Blogpost, having to research a story, buy the ingredients, prepare the dish, and photograph it (good light is best when she gets up early in the morning) before work, or over weekends.  Barry shared that his Afrikaans Blog ‘Wat Eet Ons?’ became more English, to attract more readers.  MasterChef SA Finalist Lungi Nhanhla was present at the launch, in her capacity of new deputy Food Editor of Drum, and she shared that things were much more controlled on MasterChef SA, given that it is a franchised programme series.

In introducing the programme at the media launch on Thursday, Producer Michelle Coleman said that ‘Dinner Divas’ recognises the best Food Blogger and not necessarily the best cook amongst the twelve finalists.

The Food Bloggers were evaluated by five judges (chairman of the judging panel Aubrey Ngcungama is the ambassador of the One & Only Cape Town, was on ‘Come Dine with Me’, and is an absolute hoot from the first episode we were shown at the launch, more than a Diva himself!) over the series,  but only three per show.  The judges of the first episode are Aubrey, Leila Padayachi (pastry chef), and Caro de Waal, editor of Food24, and they evaluate the meals of the Divas without knowing who prepared the recipes and cooked the food.  The other judges used for the series are Chef Fernando Roman of the Five Rooms restaurant at The Alphen, and Andrew Lieber of ‘Gourmet Guys’ Blog.

The sponsors are Mr Price Home; Rhodes Foods (who make cheeses – such as the award-winning Portobello – under their own brand name and some for Woolworths, as well as canned jams, and tomato, fruit and vegetable products); Nulaid eggs, Sasko Flour; and Whirlpool kitchen appliances. Prizes for the winner of the Ultimate Dinner Diva 2012 title includes exposure for the winner’s Food Blog, as well as R50000 cash, a cookbook deal, vouchers of sponsors’ products, and R25000 worth of Whirlpool appliances.

In preparation of their appearance in the TV programme, each Food Blogger had to create a menu for a family weekend meal, with the recipes, and blog it in 100 words.  On set the Food Bloggers had to cook their meal within 90 minutes, set the table for the judges, and style and present their dishes. The judges evaluated the dishes ‘anonymously’, on authenticity, originality, balance and nutritional value of the menu, seasonality of the produce, the reasonable cost of the menu, the creativity in blog writing, the styling of their food and the table setting, and the food preparation skills.

The first episode we saw showed only two of the twelve Food Bloggers competing against each other. Nina Timm prepared a most colourful Mexican family dish, which included meat balls, refried beans, guacamole, and healthy tacos, a meal which she described as a ‘maaltyd om te eet’, and as ‘fingerfood’; while Kristy Snell made fillet steak and her mom’s Peach and Almond baked pudding.  Aubrey will be remembered as the most direct and honest judge, who does not put across his opinions diplomatically at all, making for fun TV. He was critical of Nina’s dish being too salty, while Kristy was not spared, Aubrey describing her salad as ‘a bit tired’, the sauces being confusing, and her dish being an ‘unexciting concoction‘. Yet both Nina and Kristy went through into the Semi-Finals.

Filmed in Cape Town, the first episode we saw had beautiful shots of Cape Town, which will benefit tourism to our city too, with the TV series’ national viewership.  Seeing the first episode, the comparison to MasterChef SA was immediate.  Only focusing on two contestants per episode, means that one can get to know each Food Blogger better, and the pace was much slower, allowing one to understand how the dish was made, and pick up some cooking tips, proving to be far more educational than MasterChef SA.

Dinner Divas’ plays an important role in enhancing the contribution of South African Food Blogs, which will have a stronger voice via the new TV series, and which are already characterised by their passion and inspiration. Food Bloggers’ success already is evident by the increasing number of cookbooks being launched by them. It was emphasised that the days of print media are numbered, and that Food Bloggers are taking over. Season 2 has already been committed too by the SABC, it was announced at the launch, being a winning recipe for the programme sponsors, SABC2 viewers, and Food Bloggers!

POSTSCRIPT 20/10: Episode 2 surprised this morning, in two respects: Judge Fernando Roman, Executive Chef from The Aphen hotel, offended bloggers when he said outright that he does ‘not fancy bloggers at all’, ironic as ‘Dinner Divas’ is a TV programme about bloggers cooking their recipes!  Not surprisingly, this caused a flurry of Tweets from critical bloggers, sure to avoid the hotel’s Five Rooms and La Belle restaurants!  In addition, contestant Sue Green cooked a pork dish, but judge Leila Padayachi does not eat pork!  However, Sue still made it into the semi-finals. Tami Magnin’s KFC-style chicken dish was dished by judge Aubrey, describing it as ‘boring to look at’ and as ‘inedible’!

POSTSCRIPT 5/1: Anel Potgieter has won season 1 of Dinner Divas.

Dinner Divas, SABC2, Saturdays, 8h30, from 13 October, for 13 weeks. www.ilovecooking.co.za Twitter @DinnerDivas1

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

2012 Eat In Awards salute quality SA producers’ integrity and innovation!

I should have known that going to the Stellenbosch Slow Market at Oude Libertas yesterday would bring on claustrophobia, it being the fullest I have ever seen this popular market, and one that I had sworn that I would never go back to again.  The announcement of the winners of the 2012 Eat In DStv Food Network Produce Awards was the reason for my visit, and once I had received a copy of the magazine with the winners’ names, and tasted some of their produce, it was a good time to leave.

Given the increased passion for food preparation, spurred by cooking programs such as MasterChef Australia and now our own South African reality TV cooking show, as well as the recession reducing the frequency of eating out, buying healthy produce to use and eat at home is becoming increasingly popular.   Five years ago Eat In, sister publication to Eat Out, which presents the annual Top 10 Restaurant awards, was launched by New Media Publishing. The magazine’s Awards ‘aim to acknowledge and celebrate outstanding independent South African producers for their integrity, passion and innovation’. The crucial criterion is that the produce is South African grown, and added criteria were that the products are produced ethically in terms of the workforce, and in an environmentally responsible manner.  The winners were judged Continue reading →

SA Blog Awards 2010 have devalued SA blogging!

The SA Blog Awards is a good idea, and can be a good measurement of success and performance in a field that bloggers were never trained for, by raising the standard of blogging in Southern Africa.   It is a shame that the 2010 SA Blog Awards were so poorly organised, and that it has been dogged by controversy.  At the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting earlier this week, long-standing blogger Dax Villanueva of Relax-with-Dax Blog said that the controversy surrounding the SA Blog Awards had devalued blogging, instead of enhancing it!

Ever since the SA Blog Awards were announced on Twitter about 2 months ago, they have been criticised for their change in procedure compared to previous years.  When the shortlist of 10 finalists for each of the 24 blog categories was announced on 1 September, there was even more criticism and very bitchy commenting by those that did not make the top 10 list in their category, and by those who disparaged others by questioning why some bloggers had made the Top 10 list in specific categories.  When the top two winners per category were announced, and most Top 10 short-listed bloggers were excluded from the Awards Dinner at the One&Only Cape Town last night, the knives really came out, and the organisation of the SA Blog Awards was severely criticised.

Guest of Honour Western Cape Premier Helen Zille spoke at the Awards evening about how “bloggers are the new voice of society” and how blogs “link the local with the big picture”.  The premier, no slouch herself on the social media scene with around 115 000 Facebook friends and one of country’s first verified Twitter accounts, said that digital communications were a “force for entrenching democracy”.  “Everything breaks immediately and is commented on and analysed before it hits the press… it’s a problem for newspapers and I wouldn’t want to be a newspaper editor in this day. It’s made it more difficult to control what information is transmitted”, reports Memeburn, one of the award-winning blogs.

So what were the complaints?:

1.  The announcement of the call for nominations of the SA Blog Awards was on Twitter only.   If one was not on Twitter, or did not follow SA Blog Awards on Twitter, one would not have known about the Awards, or may have been delayed in participating, in seeing Tweets by others about the call for nominations.

2.  The rules of the Awards seemed to have been made up as they went along – the fact that voting was encouraged at Nomination stage already was not clear, and irritated Twitterers, in that they were bombarded with Nomination vote requests.  The process of nomination was also not clear, with a message popping up, telling one that one could not nominate a blog more than twice on the same e-mail address. 

3.  The organisers of the SA Blog Awards were not identified on the SA Blog Awards website, and via Tweets one could put together the information that 2009 Blog winner in the Business category (Dave Duarte) and Chris Rawlinson, winner in the Marketing category, had got together with JP Naude (an infrequent blogger, by his own admission on his site: “Yes I don’t blog much… I’m a businessman and radio presenter” – prior to this mini-blog post earlier this month, JP had last blogged in May! He is a presenter on Good Hope FM) as Chairman of the SA Blog Awards. I met JP at the Vista Bar after the Blog Awards presentation, and he told me that his company organised the SA Blog Awards.  I was shocked when I saw a comment on the shortlisted Bangers and Nash blog, written by SA Blog Awards committee member Chris Rawlinson a few months ago, congratulating Dan Nash on his blog, and stating that a good blog should carry the f-word at least once a day!   So much for the quality of the judges!  (I did get to meet Dan Nash at the Vista Bar, having had dinner at Reubens at the One&Only Cape Town, and he was very generous in handing out tequila).

4.  When the top 10 shortlist was announced per category, the list was on the SA Blog Awards website, and top 10 finalists were only notified by e-mail the following day.  At no stage was an e-mail with the rules ever sent to all nominees.   One had to find information on the website, and this seemed to be amended as the SA Blog Awards progressed.

5.  Previous participants were shocked as to who made the top 10 shortlist, especially those that had won in previous years.  In the Food & Wine Blog category, for example, eight out of ten 2009 finalists did not make it in 2010.  The Relax-with-Dax, Scrumptious, Spit or Swallow, Rossouw’s Restaurants and Neil Pendock’s blogs all fell out of this category, with only the My Easy Cooking and Cooksister Blogs making the 2010 shortlist again.   Relax-with-Dax and Spit or Swallow did make the Microblogging/Twitter shortlist, however, a surprise to them too.

6.   As the SA Blog Awards developed, more and more sponsors were announced for the categories, but not all categories were sponsored (e.g. our Whale Cottage Blog made the shortlist in the Most Controversial Blog category, which did not attract a sponsor!)   In 2009, the ‘old hands’ and finalists tell me, they all went home with prizes.  It appears that despite sponsors coming on board, the category prizes were a little perspex obelisk with the SA Blog Awards logo on it.  This gives little incentive to enter the Awards competition in 2011.   Sponsors’ monies appear to have been used to pay for the dinner, and to compensate JP Naude’s company for organising the Awards.

7.   The highlight for the 2009 finalists was the SA Blog Awards dinner, I have been told, even if the bloggers did not win.  It was a great networking platform, and an honour to have attended.  In pre-announcing the top 2 out of the top 10 of each category this year, the Awards dinner was reduced to about 50 finalists, and only those got to attend the dinner – in the last minute the rules were changed, in that the SA Blog Awards website announced that the dinner was ‘by invitation only’.  Initially the Awards dinner date was set for yesterday (over a long weekend!), leading one to assume that all top 10 finalists would be invited to attend it.

8.  The voting phase for each category spanned about two weeks, and one felt like an Idols’ finalist, begging for votes on one’s blog and on Twitter.   I think that the more the finalists begged, the fewer votes they received.  One was allowed to vote once a day per valid e-mail address one has.  So, for example, someone with 10 e-mail addresses could cast 10 votes daily!   The actual weighting of votes by ‘fans’ and the judges evaluation was only recently stated as being 30 % of the vote by the judges, and 70 % from the public.  The judges per category were also not all announced – on one specific day the judges of some of the 24 categories were named on Twitter, and some judges also proudly tweeted that they were judging blogs (e.g. Jo-Ann Strauss, Sam Wilson and her husband Andreas Späth).  We never got to hear the names of the judge(s) of the Most Controversial Blog category, for example.  Mention was also made that blog ranking statistics would be taken into consideration as well, being Afrigator specifically, a site that frequently goes down.  The question was raised as to the effect it would have on one’s standing if one was not registered on this ranking site.  Oddly, few of the top-ranked Afrigator blogs were in the finals.  It is clear that the larger the number of readers of one’s Blog, and the greater the Twitter following, the higher one’s votes would have been likely to be.   The top first and second winners per category were notified by e-mail that they had made it, and they were listed on the website too.  The remaining 8 finalists per category were not notified by the organisers, and were only told that if they did NOT receive an e-mail, they would know that they had not made it as number 1 or 2!   This was the rudest aspect of the SA Blog Awards organisation, in my opinion.  Many Blog finalists had put in a lot of effort to encourage voting, and thereby had publicised the Awards on behalf of the organisers, who had created little publicity for the event themselves!  No thanks was received for one’s participation.

Despite all of the above, we are proud that we made it to the Top 10 finalist stage in our category, and that we learnt from participation for the first time.  We trust that the organisers of the 2010 SA Blog Awards will accept this feedback and will improve the organisation and credibility of it, to ensure that they have quality participants in 2011!

The overall winner of the SA Blog Awards was a big surprise, being www.watkykjy.co.za, a provocative proudly-Afrikaans on-the-edge blog, that claims to receive 180000 ‘visits’ per month, and describes itself as “Die beste Afrikaanse blog en website in die heelal”!  In the past the Award has been won by www.2Oceansvibe.co.za every year that editor Seth Rotherham (Will Mellor) has entered the Awards.  Rotherham/Mellor did not even bother to attend, being in the Karoo over the weekend, and sent a message to the organisers that this was the last SA Blog Awards competition he had entered.   (Most non-Cape Town top 2 finalists per category did not attend, yet the writer of www.indieberries.blogspot.com travelled all the way from South Korea to pick up her two category wins).

The winners in the 24 categories, announced last night, are as follows (congratulations to them all):

Best Entertainment Blog:  www.2oceansvibe.co.za (ranks 3rd on Afrigator)

Best Media & Marketing Blog:  www.cherryflava.com

Best Post on a SA Blog: www.brainwavez.org/screen/film/features/2009/20091001001-01.html

Best Overseas Blog: www.pharside.co.uk

Best TV Radio Blog: www.ecr.co.za/kagiso/content/en/east-coast-radio/east-coast-radio-blogs-breakfast

Best Politics Blog: www.wonkie.com (ranks 10th on Afrigator)

Best Photographic Blog: www.guywithcamera.co.za (Andrew Brauteseth)

Best New Blog: www.simply-delicious.co.za

Best Food & Wine Blog: www.simply-delicious.co.za

Best Science and Technology Blog: www.shesthegeek.co.za

Best Music Blog: www.dontparty.co.za

Best Fashion Blog: www.kimgray.co.za

Best Design Blog: www.indieberries.blogspot.com

Best Podcast/Video Blog: www.zanews.co.za

Best Business Blog:  www.memeburn.com

Best Group Blog: www.rlabs.org

Best Sport Blog: www.paddlesweep.net

Best Green Blog:  www.sprig.co.za

Best Indigenous Language Blog: www.watkykjy.co.za (7th on Afrigator) 

Most Controversial Blog: www.2oceansvibe.co.za

Best Travel Blog: www.getaway.co.za/page/blog

Best Personal Blog: www.indieberries.blogspot.com

Best Parenting Blog: www.reluctantmom.wordpress.com

Best Twitter Blog: www.twitter.com/mandyjwatson

Best Company Blog: www.rlabs.org

The SA Blog Awards website states that “integrity and credibility of the SA Blog Awards is our highest priority”.  It also states that the organisers would look for a ‘balance between the public voting system and the judge’s choice of winners’, to allow a free and fair selection of winners.  Many participants of this year’s Awards will agree that this was not the case!  

POSTSCRIPT 27/9:  The response to this blogpost has been phenomenal, with more than 850 readers in the first 21 hours of publishing it, and an incredible number of Twitter Retweets, many containing compliments, throughout the day yesterday.  Twitter is normally very quiet on a Sunday, especially over a long weekend.   The link to this post was sent to the organising committee of JP Naude, Chris Rawlinson and Dave Duarte, with no response to date. 

If one googles ‘SA Blog Awards’, one can read many blogposts written in the past two months, criticising various aspects of the SA Blog Awards.

The list of judges per category, with many typing errors, was recently added to the SA Blog Awards website, it would appear.  It is funny to see Randall Abrams listed as a judge for the Most Controversial Blog category – did I not write above that we felt like Idol’s finalists??!!  The other judge for the category was listed as ‘Ivor Vector’, but this name does not exist on a Google search.  However, Ivo Vegtor says he was invited to be a judge, but decided not to.  Randall Abrams has no blog, nor has Graham Howe, one of two judges in the Food & Wine Blog.  As far as judging goes, read the Comments section to this blogpost about what happened to Chris, the writer of iMod, the top ranked blog on Afrigator.  The list of judges for all the categories:  http://www.sablogawards.com/Judge3.aspx

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

Whale Cottage Blog a ‘controversial’ Finalist for 2010 SA Blog Awards

Yesterday was a day of reckoning for the bloggers of South Africa, who had been judged by a committee of three, and voted for by their fans, in making the short-list of ten finalists in 25 categories of the S A Blog Awards.  We are delighted to have been selected as a Finalist in the Most Controversial Blog category, and thank our loyal blog readers, friends, commenters, and Twitter followers for their votes in making the Finalist selection possible.

Now we are like Idols contestants, in that we please request your vote for our Blog, to win in the category (there is no prize, other than a badge that goes onto the blog). The Most Controversial Blog category is quite far down the list, and you need to please click on our blog name to vote, and then to scroll down to the bottom of the list, to enter your e-mail address.  You are allowed to vote for us every 24 hours, per e-mail address, until the competition closes on 17 September.

The Whale Cottage Blog had been nominated in a number of categories, including Best Food & Wine Blog, Best Blog Post, Most Controversial Blog and Best Travel Blog.  Being a unique blog that does not fit fully into any specific category (e.g. Food, Travel), we were delighted to have made the finals (somehow we never got to enter last year).  The Most Controversial Blog category is a new one introduced this year, and it seemed to suit us ideally!   If we have created a unique identity for our blog, it has been to be “independent * incisive * informative”, and it is described as being controversial, due to our lack of fear to write the truth, no matter the consequences.

We are in excellent company in this category, with 2Oceansvibe being a fellow finalist – last year its editor ‘Seth Rotherham’ won almost every category in the Blog Awards, and his blog became the benchmark for many of us (this year a blog can only be nominated in two categories).   The rest of the Finalists’ list is a little more dubious, sex and swearing broadly summarising the content of the other blogs in the Most Controversial Blog category.

The WhaleTales newsletter has been distributed for the past nine years, and has been the foundation of our writing about controversial issues.   It has not always been easy to be outspoken, in that we have experienced the following:

*  being told to not come back to the Opal Lounge, due to an unfavourable review that we wrote (in fact the instruction to not return was issued telephonically by the co-owner before the review was written and published)

*  being escorted out of Beluga by the police during a invited lunch for members of an association of guest house owners in Camps Bay, of which I am the chairman, because sister restaurant Sevruga received a Sour Service Award on this blog for a Cape Times book launch lunch, which the restaurant handled poorly, both food and service-wise

*   being threatened with legal action when we tackled Carne about falsely claiming that all its beef, lamb and game served comes from its Karoo farm and is organic, our most controversial blog post in the two year history of blog-writing.  This blog post was nominated for Best Blog Post.  The Carne blog post, and its follow up, took investigative journalism of the bravest kind, in obtaining documentation from the suppliers of the meat, and in obtaining (by luck) a telephonic admission by a supplier of meat to Carne, resulting in Carne withdrawing its legal threat, declaring the matter closed, and taking the dishonest claim off their website.

*   being on the receiving end of FEDHASA Cape’s attempt to cancel our membership, which resulted in my resignation as a Director of the hotel old-boys’ club, when I wrote about the dangers of small accommodation establishments signing with FIFA’s MATCH for the World Cup, over the past five years.  My views about MATCH were not in line with the hotel interests which dominated the FEDHASA Cape Board, and Nils Heckscher, GM of the Winchester Mansions, tried his best to get me off the Board.  Ultimately, we were vindicated in our advice when MATCH cancelled the bulk of its booked small and hotel accommodation throughout South Africa, the Winchester Mansions being one of the hotels badly hit by the cancellation of booked rooms by MATCH.  

*   being threatened with legal action by the Cape Whale Coast DMO, after our blog post of 28 December 2009 raised questions about the conflict of interest created by Clinton Lerm being the Chairman of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau and of the DMO.   Nothing has come of this threat to date.  Yesterday we published a follow-up story on the DMO’s lack of transparency.

*  writing critical restaurant reviews, without “white-washing” them

*   awarding Sweet and Sour Service Awards on the blog every Friday.

We would also like to recommend the following blogging friends and colleagues, for your vote:

*  Food & Wine Blog category: Cooksister (Jeanne Horak-Druiff), My-Easy-Cooking (Nina Timm), JamieWho? (Andy Fenner) and The Foodie (David Cope) (all of last year’s finalists have dropped out of this category, other than Cooksister and My-Easy-Cooking)

*   Best Travel Blog category:   SA Venues and Cape Town Travel (Cape Town Tourism)

*   Best Twitter Microblogger category: Relax-with-Dax, Gus Silber, and Spit or Swallow

We thank you for your support and your votes.

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