Tag Archives: Natal Midlands

Why do hotel restaurants not have better patron support and win awards?

five hundred dishIt was a recent article by Nick Lander, husband of renowned wine critic Jancis Robinson and restaurant critic in the UK, about restaurants in hotels he had visited in Dubai that made me consider once again why hotel restaurants fare so poorly in patron support and in the Eat Out Top 10 restaurant awards in our country.
Lander writes that specific rules about restaurants and liquor licences force restaurants to be linked to hotels in Dubai.  In our country no such rules apply, and as a service to guests, hotels have over the years added dining facilities, in early days being the only restaurants offering tea and cake, and lunch and dunner.  My parents drove us with overseas visitors to Franschhoek’s Swiss Farm Excelsior (now the Le Franschhoek Hotel), the benchmark of restaurants in those years.

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‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’: Cool as a cucumber in Durban, Chow bye Bunny Blondie, ends ‘epic SA trip of a lifetime’!

Hayden Quinn Durben Joe's shop curry Whale CottageIt was the last episode of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa‘ last night, going full circle in Hayden having surfed off Muizenberg in episode 1, and doing so as well in Umhlanga in episode 13 last night.   It was a shame that Hayden chose to end off his endorsement for Woolworths’ sustainability program by playing silly games with two pieces of Naan bread and stick out his tongue, a photograph placed on the programme series’ Facebook page.

Hayden visited a hydroponic cucumber farm Qutom Farms outside Durban, which supplies Woolworths. They catch rain water, and therefore they have not had to use external water for more than two years.  The plants are grown in glasshouses with covering over the roofs to allow the staff to adapt the amount of light shining ontoHayden Quinn 13 Durban Derek Cucumbers Whale Cottage the cucumber plants.  Derrick Baird, Director of Qutam Farms, said that the hydroponic farm ‘is a little bit of Europe here in South Africa’.  They also use solar heating for the plant, generating about 220 kw per day.  The plants are grown in cocopeat instead of in soil.   A fine mist is sprayed if it gets too hot. No pesticides are used, allowing Hayden to eat a crunchy cucumber without having to wash it.

The Victoria Spice Market in Durban is known as the best place in which to buy curry spices.  Viewers were Continue reading →

MasterChef SA Season 3 episode 7: Service and food preparation judged in Durban in boring Team Challenge!

MasterChef 7 Red and Blue TeamsLast night’s episode 7 of MasterChef SA was a Team Challenge, the ten remaining contestants divided into two groups of five, the Red team led by Philippa Robinson and the Blue Team by Penny Fitchet.  It was the most boring episode ever in the three seasons of MasterChef SA.

The ten contestants were flown to Durban (very wasteful, as the Team Challenge could just as easily have been done at Tsogo Sun hotels in Cape Town).  The contestant teams were seen walking along the Golden Mile, with many tourist hotels.  They arrived at the Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani Hotel, having to cook in their The Grill Jichana restaurant kitchen. The hotel serves the largest number of guests of all hotels in the country, Chef Benny Masekwameng told the contestants.  The judges of their meal were invited guests, being the most long-standing waiters at the hotel, as well as at some other restaurants, their collective experience exceeding 400 years, with a consultant who does staff training. Some of the waiter guests had served Queen Elizabeth and other members of the Royal Family. Each team had to choose the best person to prepare the meat, fish, the chips, onion rings and sides, to manage the pass, to play waitress, and to prepare the sauces at the table, using a Flambé and Gueridon trolley, with a gas hob, chopping board, and cutlery drawer.

Penny’sMasterChef 7 Guest judges Blue Team consisted of Roxi Wardman, Refilwe Tselanyane, Francois Zietsman, and Sipho Mdlankomo, while Philippa’s Red Team was Ian Young, Claire Allen, Mel Sutherland, and Abigail Mbalo.  Penny was praised for being a teacher, standing her in good stead to lead her team. Chef Pete Goffe-Wood explained the use of the trolley, likening it to a ‘theatrical production‘: ‘Gueridon Service is a celebration of the theatre of food. You’re right at the table making food in front of your guests. It’s going to test you to your limits today’. Continue reading →

‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa’ episode 12: Rhino spotting, Zulu dancing, more Woolworths deceit!

Hayden Quinn 12 Rhinos Whale CottageLast night’s episode 12 of ‘Hayden Quinn: South Africa‘ showed many South Africans an area of the country they have little exposure to, being Shakaland, a Zulu Cultural Centre, where Quinn was exposed to Zulu stick fighting, dancing, and traditional food and beer. The link to Woolworths in rhino spotting and to Shakaland is not clear, other than that Woolworths sells Rhino-themed shopper bags.

The Wildlife ACT (African Conservation Trust) Rhino monitor guide Zama Ncube took Quinn and Justin Smith, Head of Sustainability at Woolworths, to track black and white rhino, finding fresh dung and tracks of the rhino in the thick grass, and they were able to spot them too. Woolworths’ shopper bags with rhino visuals were plugged, as was the My Planet shopper card, proceeds of which go to the Wildlife ACT program.  Hayden Quinn 12 Justin Smith and guide Whale CottageThe link between Woolworths’ Sustainability focus and Wildlife ACT was not explained.  Quinn then took to the skies in a helicopter, flown by pilot Etienne Gerber of the Zululand Anti-Poaching Wing of Project Rhino KZN, making it far easier to see the rhinos from above, and to control their movement and protection.  Quinn was spoilt with sightings of zebra, giraffe, and buck.  He was told that there are 20000 rhinos now.   Continue reading →