The industry has crawled out of what has been the worst winter season ever in Cape Town and the Western Cape, the recession in Europe and even locally still making itself felt. In addition, the Cape experienced one of its wettest winters ever, with seven weekends of rain out of eight in August and September, making Cape Town and the Western Cape unattractive to our local tourists.
The winter weather was excellent Social Media weather, and Twitter was most entertaining in watching the British Jubilee and Olympics Opening and Closing ceremonies, with wonderfully creative and hilarious comments made. Seriously though, we are seeing a rapid growth in our Marketing activity on this platform, with more than 25000 followers, a blog readership exceeding 36000, and a newsletter database exceeding 30000. Our most popular blogposts have been the Restaurant Winter specials, a huge hit when pockets are emptier than in summer. The restaurants of Cape Town and the Winelands have been amazing in the specials they offer to attract customers. Popular too were the blogposts we wrote about opinionated blogger Bruce Palling Eat Out ‘imported’ from the UK to give its Top 10 Restaurants Awards greater credibility, a failure in more than one respect! WhaleTales newsletter readers can subscribe to our Blog, to receive our daily blogposts.
MasterChef SA season 1 was a most enjoyable 19-programme series, which became the most-read topic on our Blog for the duration of the reality TV series. We were so excited about the programme that we ran a competition with a number of leading restaurants, encouraging our blog readers to predict which Finalist would be eliminated every week, and we thank Burrata, Holden Manz’s Franschhoek Kitchen, The Restaurant at Grande Provence, and I Love my Laundry for offering vouchers to the winners. Jorgensen’s Distillery kindly offered the runner-prize of Naked Limoncello, and Sauvingnac for the competition we ran to predict the MasterChef SA winner, for which the main prize was a weekend at one of our Whale Cottages.
We are very concerned about the turmoil in our local tourism industry, which means that little marketing has been done by Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited (now part of Wesgro) in the past year, and this trend will continue for another six months at least, if not more. The changes at SAA and the poor service our passengers are receiving is also a cause for concern.
We celebrated our 16th birthday on Women’s Day, having opened our first Whale Cottage in 1996. In September it was the 14th anniversary of Whale Cottage Camps Bay and the 8th anniversary of Whale Cottage Franschhoek. We thank all our guests, suppliers, and staff for the success we have achieved. .     

Chris von Ulmenstein
Owner, Whale Cottage Portfolio  


Vote of no confidence in Cape Town Tourism Marketing, another Seasonality winter low!

Restaurant openings and closures slow down in the Cape!

Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards 2012 controversial
once again!
Reality TV series’ cooking programmes a hit!
Franchhoek Platter Winery of the Year second year running!

Sweet & Sour Service Awards


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For years we have been told by the tourism authorities that Seasonality is to blame for the poor tourism winter performance in the Cape, and every year we are promised that Seasonality will be addressed, Events being billed as the panacea to this problem. Every year we experience the same problem, with no new marketing events organised, and every year the winter business gets worse, especially since the soccer World Cup in 2010.
We have become increasingly critical of the lack of tourism marketing done by Cape Town Tourism, which announced with big fanfare at their AGM last September what a full marketing programme they had planned. Six months later, on the return of its CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold from her maternity leave, during which time little appeared to have been done, she addressed the members of Cape Town Tourism, and had to share that her marketing funds were far reduced relative to the original budget.

Now it appears that Cape Town Tourism funder the City of Cape Town agrees with us about the poor marketing. In a vote of no confidence in Cape Town Tourism, it was announced at the AGM of the tourism body that the City of Cape Town has established a new Directorate of Tourism, Events and Marketing, and will be taking over ‘Destination Marketing’ from Cape Town Tourism, accompanied by a Budget cut of about R8 million. The new directorate, under the management of Executive Director Anton Groenewald, will take over the marketing of Cape Town, and Cape Town Tourism will now focus only on Visitor Information Services and ‘Tourism Marketing’! Read more here.

We question however whether the City’s marketing move is constitutional, Cape Town Tourism’s constitution assigning the Destination Marketing function to the tourism body. This and a number of other matters pertaining to the AGM appear unconstitutional, in that Cape Town Tourism member approval was not sought, and would necessitate a Special General Meeting. Mrs Helmbold has not responded to our e-mail in this regard. Read more here. In order to reassure its members about its future role, Cape Town Tourism issued a media statement, the content of which will make the tourism industry even more confused, in that Mrs Helmbold was quoted as stating that Cape Town Tourism as an ‘organisation will remain a dynamic industry organisation delivering tourism destination marketing (our underlining) and visitor services in line with its Constitution’. Cape Town Tourism created a new word and designation which it did not receive from the City of Cape Town! Read more here. The only positive aspect of the City of Cape Town taking over the marketing of Cape Town is that it has appointed Rory Viljoen, previous Marketing Director of Coca Cola and Distell in Africa and Europe. Read more here.
The invitation from Cape Town Tourism to four travel website owners (incorrectly billed by them as ‘bloggers’) to address the Getaway Travel Blog Conference came under heavy fire for its minimal impact in marketing Cape Town, and for being misleading in its claimed measurement of success of its Tweet-Up involving mainly Capetonians (read more here). Equally so the placement of three badly designed Cape Town Tourism ads meant to attract more business to Cape Town in the Sunday Times travel supplement in June had no impact on business at all (read more here).
It was a shock to read in our local newspapers and to receive badly written and factually incorrect media statements from Cape Town Tourism, telling a financially struck industry how well it was doing, when it was no reflection of reality at all (read more here). Councillor Pascoe, who appears to be pushing for a greater media profile, being quoted in Cape Town Tourism media statements in breach of the Cape Town Tourism constitution, also made misleading media statements, and one wonders what he hoped to achieve by bragging about a claimed positive ‘winter’ performance, having ‘defied the odds, with visitors flocking to the city’, as reported by the Cape Argus, when the industry experience was that business this winter was even worse than the very poor 2011 winter! Read more here.
The Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, has also been criticised for what are seen to be unbelievable tourism statistics, not experienced by tourism operators. Tour operator Colin Bell received a lot of support from the industry when he shared his views on Southern African Tourism Update. Bell’s stats show that tourists from the traditional markets of UK, France and Holland have declined by more than 10% in the past four years. Read more here. In launching National Tourism Month, Minister van Schalkwyk encouraged South Africans to go on a local holiday, so that they can experience what international visitors love about our country, being its beauty, its culture and heritage, and its warmth and friendliness. Domestic tourism is the ‘lifeblood’ of our economy, and generated more than R20 billion for the economy last year, the Minister said, reported the The Times. Domestic Tourism represents 76% of the number of tourists in South Africa. Read more here.
Southern African Tourism Update quoted outgoing Chairman of Cape Town Tourism Ian Bartes, who was surprising in its honesty in admitting that ‘Cape Town needs an orchestrated and cohesive effort by the public and private sector to change its seasonality problem, which has not improved over the past decade despite numerous winter tourism campaigns‘! Surprising too is that he stated that attempts to contain Seasonality have been unsuccessful, pointing a finger at Cape Town Tourism, which has been tasked with addressing Seasonality. Read more here.
It was a surprise to see Cape Town Tourism CEO Mrs Helmbold Tweeting so actively about Istanbul, to such an extent that she was promoting tourism to that city, and that a delegation of ten City of Cape Town and Cape Town Tourism executives went to Istanbul for ten days in September, as a Tweet by Cape Town Tourism informed: “Our CEO @MariettedTH is part of a Cape Town trade exchange delegation en-route to Turkey with Mayor @PatriciaDeLille & @Grantpascoe“. The Turkey team included Alderman Patricia de Lille, Councillor Grant Pascoe, Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Marketing; Anton Groenewald of the new City Tourism, Events and Marketing Directorate; City Manager Achmat Ebrahim; ex-Cape Town Tourism Chairman Ian Bartes, and ACSA Cape Town’s Manager of Service Standards in his day job; Enver Duminy, Mrs Helmbold’s right-hand man; Inge Dykman, Marketing and Communications Officer at Cape Town Tourism; a Wesgro staff member; and, surprisingly, Chef Peter Ayub of cooking school and catering company ‘A Sense of Taste’ . No report about the benefits achieved for Cape Town, and its ratepayers who funded the trip, has been presented by Cape Town Tourism or the City of Cape Town on the return of the delegation. Turkey has not been identified by Cape Town Tourism, SA Tourism or Wesgro as a potential tourism market for Cape Town, the Western Cape or South Africa. Read more here.
The reduced Cape Town Tourism marketing role, in having Destination Marketing taken away, and the six months which is expected to be required to negotiate its future with the City of Cape Town, combined with its minimal marketing in the past year as its marketing budget was reduced, is already being felt by the tourism industry. Even more worrying is that the incorporation of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, the provincial tourism marketing body, into the Western Cape trade and investment body Wesgro in April, has achieved very little in the past seven months, and there still is no head for the Tourism division. This will adversely affect not only the tourism business in Cape Town and the Western Cape for the current summer season, but also for the next winter! Read more about Wesgro’s new tourism destination marketing role. The tourism industry in the Western Cape makes up 10 % of the R450 billion Western Cape economy, said Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development, and Tourism Alan Winde, and thus forms the ‘bread and butter’ of the province. A large part of the industry consists of small businesses, that need to be ‘professionalised’ to run their businesses as businesses, the Minister said. Read more here.
A blow to the Cape Town tourism industry was the cancellation in August by SAA of its London-Cape Town route, justifying this in the route deemed to be a loss-making one, and in it creating a hub out of OR Thambo airport in Johannesburg for all international SAA flights. The SAA announcement by its General Manager Theunis Potgieter was greeted with shock by the Cape tourism industry, and could not have come at a worse time, the industry suffering what was seen by many as a tourism crisis this winter. The Western Cape tourism authorities did not receive any prior warning about SAA’s plan to cancel the route it introduced 20 years ago. The airline announced at that time that it ‘was hurting in the current global recession’, and that it had requested a R6 billion ‘government injection’! The psychological damage of SAA’s decision probably is worse than its actual effect, in signalling that the country’s airline does not take Cape Town seriously as the country’s leading tourism destination. Read more here.

SAA stayed in the news for all the wrong reasons, eight of its eleven Board members having resigned in October in what signalled the lack of confidence in the management of the airline and its future. As our tourism industry is strongly reliant on SAA to bring tourists to the country, and to Cape Town specifically, the SAA situation is of concern to all tourism players. Read more here. SAA will not be privatised, said Malusi Gigaba, Minister of Public Enterprises, at the SAA AGM last month, reported Southern African Tourism Update. In a hard-hitting speech, the Minister threw a number of challenges to the new Board of the airline, to address its R1,3 billion loss in the past financial year, and to address financial irregularities.

Privatisation of the airline was rejected outright, the Minister stating that attempts by SWISS, Air New Zealand, and Japan Airlines to privatise had proven to be unsuccessful. Read more here. .It is a concern to see how high the airfares are to get to Cape Town directly, only Air France and KLM offering excellent value we found, in a comparative price survey we conducted. Read more here.
The tourism industry was astounded that the City of Cape Town fouled up its opportunity to generate revenue for the city during the 29th Africa Cup of Nations championships (AFCON), which will be hosted in our country between January and February next year. The soccer stadia hosting the 32 matches for the Championships are Soccer City in Johannesburg hosting the opening and closing ceremonies and matches, Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth, Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, and Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. Cape Town Stadium is conspicuous by its absence, the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee member for Tourism, Events, and Marketing, Grant Pascoe, once again showing what a burden he is to the city’s tourism industry! The city expressed its opposition to hosting the event, due to the cost burden, and sought a guarantee from the government for at least 50% of the hosting costs to be covered. The City was also looking to the Confederation of African Football and/or Local Organising Committee to cover 25 % of the costs. Costs for the host city include the preparation of the pitch, fencing, security, the accommodation of the teams and officials, as well as transport, according to the Cape Argus. The City also was unhappy that the tournament would mean that other events could not be held at the Cape Town Stadium, meaning a loss of income, a poor motivation, given how few events are held at the stadium, less than one per month on average. Even more astounding is the City’s decision, given that Councillor Pascoe’s portfolio includes the Cape Town Stadium, which is running at a significant loss, the City not having been able to find an operator to generate an income from the stadium other than a few local soccer matches, religious gatherings, and pop concerts!

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille prepared a statement in reaction to the Host City announcement, as published in Politicsweb: “The City of Cape Town notes with deep disappointment the decision not to include Cape Town as a host city for the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2013. From the outset, the City expressed the desire to be part of what we truly believe is a celebration of African football. However, at each stage of the process, we have highlighted a number of serious legal, financial and other concerns that needed to be negotiated in order for the City to comply with our legal responsibilities and to ensure that we do not compromise the interests of the ratepayers and citizens of Cape Town”. The Mayor

added that the City’s concerns had not been responded to, and that it had to hear via media reports that it had not been successful in its bid. She also reiterated the City’s commitment to hosting ‘high profile national, regional and international football matches'. Read more here.
An elaborate plan to meet the R40 million or so annual shortfall in funding the Cape Town Stadium could see a ‘commercialisation’ of the Green Point sport and entertainment facility, to secure its survival, and to reduce the financial pressure on the City of Cape Town and its ratepayers. The City has been advised by consultants to turn the R4 billion Cape Town Stadium and neighbouring Green Point Park into a commercialised zone, which would allow nightclubs, shops, coffee shops, sports bars, restaurants, letting of office space, and even a sport hospital to be set up in the area, reports the Cape Argus. In addition, stadium tours, a museum, a ‘hall of fame’, and a Sports Science Institute are planned. This would help Cape Town to be positioned as a ‘leading events, investment and tourist destination’, says the newspaper report. The Stadium operating costs amount to R50 million per annum, with only R11 million earned in the past nine months. Ideally, the City of Cape Town would seek an anchor tenant. Talks with the Western Cape Rugby Union are said to be ‘at a very early stage’, despite having been initiated a year ago already. The City had to take back the management of the stadium when negotiations for its agreement with Sail Stadefrance fell through. Read more here.
Cape Town is likely to see more German and Dutch tourists this summer, reported the Weekend Argus recently, as the visitors from the UK continue to stay away due to that country’s recession. The UK was our city’s largest source of international tourism business until 2010, but its proportion of tourism business has dropped significantly. South African visitors will dominate over the forthcoming summer season. Read more here.
The Western Cape has 21 Blue Flag beaches out of 36 nationally, with eight of these in Cape Town alone and three each in Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay, excellent news for tourism to our city and province, as they are a confirmation of international standards of cleanliness, environmental management, and safety. ‘..the Blue Flag programme has impacts in terms of economic benefits, job creation and improved environmental management’, said Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk at the ceremony to award the latest Blue Flag beaches. Read more here.
Good tourism news is that a dedicated cruise liner terminal is to be built in the Cape Town harbour (read more here). The Cape Argus has reported that new Port Manager Sipho Nzuza has announced that E Berth in the Cape Town harbour will become a ‘dedicated dock for visiting cruise liners’, for security reasons. In addition, ’suitable infrastructure’ is to be developed for the disembarkation of passengers. Earlier this year the cruise liner industry, and the V&A Waterfront with it, was dealt a major blow when the Department of Home Affairs forbade all cruise liners from docking inside the V&A Waterfront, forcing visiting cruise liners to use the unsuitable and dangerous Duncan Dock, creating a poor impression for Cape Town, and forcing many cruise companies to cut Cape Town out of their cruise itineraries, or to reduce their two day stay to a one day one. Read more here.
Excellent news too, although we haven’t seen the effect yet, is the new Bollywood movie ‘Cocktail’, which was largely shot in Cape Town. It led to a new TV commercial by SA Tourism to promote tourism to South Africa among Indian tourists, to co-incide with the release of the movie, reports Best Media Info. The 30 second TV commercial has been released on international TV channels such as HBO and MTV, and communicates that Cape Town offers travellers ‘a truly unique fusion of fun, exciting, adventurous and memorable holiday experience to take home and treasure‘. Beautiful scenes were shot in Camps Bay in particular, and the V&A Waterfront, and the Trinity night club are also featured in the TV commercial. Read more here. A large part of the filming of the ‘Spud’ movie sequel ‘Spud - The Madness Continues‘ was done in Cape Town, even though the school featured in the Spud books is Michaelhouse in KwaZulu-Natal. The new movie, which is to be released next year, promises to be as successful internationally as its predecessor was, not least because of its famous comedy star John Cleese. Read more here.

Clifton Shores’ is a locally produced TV reality series airing on Vuzu, which has also just started airing in the USA as ‘Shores’. The series documents the ability of a bevy of beautiful American lasses to adapt to ’survive’ in Cape Town, said executive producer Quinton van der Burgh, reports the Cape Argus. He explained that they cast the girls in America, on the basis of not only their beauty but also their brains. Katy, Kathy, Destiny, and Jamillette were selected and came to Cape Town last year for the filming, being joined by local lasses Raquel, Rikki, and Claire, as well as local lads Quinton, Brett, Toby, and Steven. The unique idea for the series came when Van den Burgh, billed as a ‘coal mining magnate’, was driving between Johannesburg and the coal mines, looking to get away from the ‘black’ in his life, he explained. They were accommodated in a Clifton mansion, and had to work for Van den Burgh, playing the role of a billionaire businessman. He said about filming locally in Cape

Town: "It is a brilliant idea because everything happens in Cape Town, one of the most beautiful destinations in the country. So we see them work and play in a city that allows both all year round”. Van den Burgh explained that he has made the series to be successful amongst American viewers first and foremost, to make it financially viable, having had to make this choice early on in his production. Read more here.

One of Cape Town’s best feel-good stories is that of Rodriguez, a popular American singer in South Africa in the Seventies, who was ‘found’ by Capetonian Sugar Segerman and invited to perform in our country in the ‘Nineties. Now a documentary ‘Search for Sugar Man’ has been made about this search, and Rodriguez is enjoying a second chance at his love for singing, and Cape Town plays a leading role in the movie. Rodriguez will perform at Grand West in Cape Town on 20 February. Read more here.






While few new restaurants are opening at the moment, and those that are opening are more informal restaurants, it is heartening to note that fewer restaurants closed down this past winter. Bizerca Bistro has moved to a new venue; Moyo has opened in Kirstenbosch and is due to open in the V&A Waterfront soon; the V&A Food Court is re-opening soon, with many fast food restaurants opening after being closed for construction over the winter; Gourmetboerie opened this week; Marcellino’s Bakery has changed its name to EuroHaus and has opened a restaurant in the extended space, being open until 21h00 every day of the week; Orphanage is expanding in December; Test Kitchen Chef and owner Luke Dale-Roberts has opened an experimental test kitchen, will

move his Pot Luck Club into the new office block being built at the Biscuit Mill, and is opening a pop up Pot Luck Club in Verbier; and Merchant’s Café has opened as a pop up venue on Long Street for different restaurants. The list of latest restaurant openings and closures in Cape Town and the Western Cape can be read here.
We have tried a number of new restaurants which have opened in Cape Town and the Winelands in the past six months: The Restaurant at De Grendel (read more here), Orinoco (read more here), Vovo Telo (read more here), Dish Restaurant at the Le Franschhoek hotel (read more here), Deli @ The Square in Paarl (read more here), Reserve Brasserie (read more here), Café Dijon which closed down its two restaurants in Stellenbosch and opened in Green Point in Cape Town (read more here), Deluxe Coffeeworks’ new coffee shop and roastery in Gardens (read more here), La Pentola in Hermanus (read more here), Eat @ Altydgedacht wine estate in Durbanville (read more here); Tamboers Winkel (read more here); The Millhouse Kitchen with dynamic chef Bjorn Dingemans at Lourensford in Somerset West (read more here); Okamai Japanese restaurant at Glenwood wine estate in Franschhoek (read more here); and Ou Meul Bakkery from Riviersonderend has opened in Cape Town (read more here) We also learnt more about the ghost Elsa who is honoured with a dinner table laid in her honour every evening at Kitima (read more here); tried the new winter menu of Delaire Graff restaurant’s (read more here); and revisited Fyndraai at Solms-Delta (read more here). We visited the wonderful new vegetable and herb garden at La Motte, which not only supplies its own Pierneef a La Motte restaurant, but also a number of leading Franschhoek and Stellenbosch restaurants with the freshest and most unusually shaped and sized vegetables (read more here). It is a surprise that Liam Tomlin Food has closed down at Leopard’s Leap in Franschhoek, a year after it opened (read more here).
Wellington has emerged as a region blessed with a wealth of food produce, including wild boar, buffalo mozzarella, goats’ milk cheese, olives, butter, yoghurt, cottage cheese, preserves, herbs, cured meats, free-range eggs, organic asparagus, oyster mushrooms, and pork. Read more here. More than 100 restaurants in Cape Town and the Winelands are offering Summer specials. Read more here.





Eat Out Editor Abigail Donnelly appointed Bruce Palling, London-based food blogger, and occasional food writer for Wall Street Journal Europe, to ‘assist in judging South Africa’s top restaurants‘ for the 2012 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards. Last year Eat Out’s decision to fire its panel of judges (MasterChef SA judge Pete Goffe-Wood, MasterChef SA Culinary Director Arnold Tanzer, and Anna Trapido, author of a biography about Nelson Mandela’s life through food), and the announcement that its editor would be the sole judge, was met with surprise and shock, especially when controversial decisions were made. The most controversial award was the newly introduced Boschendal Style Award, which Ms Donnelly awarded to Makaron Restaurant at Majeka House, her (undisclosed) consulting client! The exclusion of Tokara, with its top chef Richard Carstens, from the Top 10 restaurant list was an insult to one of country’s most experienced and talented chefs; and the award of Best Country Style Restaurant going to The Table at De Meye, which few had heard of, had only been open for a few months, and is owned by a photographer which Mrs Donnelly uses for some of her Taste shoots, was controversial too.
Interesting is that a Google search found no results for anything written about Mr Palling, one just finding links to his blog posts. For the past six years he has been a judge for the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards. Mr Palling had never been to South Africa, before visiting to judge the finalist restaurants for the Top 10 list. The Eat Out media release describes Mr Palling as an ‘internationally acclaimed gastronome’. Odd then that there was no information to be found written about him. Read more here. From Palling’s blogposts one learnt the following about his eating and drinking tastes, which may have influenced his judging of our local top chefs: Local is ‘lekker’, in that he wants to eat ‘native produce’ rather than it being imported (e.g.‘wallaby’ in Australia!); he is fond of wine, and it should be local and single varietal, and not blended; his benchmark is Michelin-ism; he is quick to describe food as ‘bland’; he has a ‘boredom with egg-dominated dishes’; he loves ‘Nordic’ (especially Swedish) cuisine; he scoffs at molecular gastronomy, which he calls ‘pretend food’, and likes to be able to identify produce on a plate ‘rather than look at an inanimate mixture of textures and smears’; he ‘cherishes food which exudes strong, not to say, disgusting odours’. (Read more here).
Palling set about ‘feasting and tasting’ his way around our country, and did about 26 lunches and dinners in two weeks in Cape Town predominantly, with only a lunch at DW Eleven-13 in Johannesburg, and Pretoria and Durban not appearing to have featured on his travel agenda, judging by his Tweets. Anyone following Palling’s Tweets would have picked up that he was censored by his hosts, as he was revealing too much about the dishes he was eating, especially Springbok, which he ate on at least three occasions and was less than complimentary about initially, so much so that he had to apologise to our national game dish: “Take back Springbok being boring/bland - had 2 non sous vide versions which lean + voluptuous helped along by Raats Cabernet Franc 08?‘! One sensed from his Tweets prior to his arrival in Cape Town that he loves to Tweet what he eats, but he must have been most frustrated in not being able to do so locally, so he had to resort to Tweeting photographs of wine bottles instead, which were clues as to his whereabouts in themselves. Palling’s visit to Cape Town ended off on a controversial note, with an unfair and disparaging Tweet about Belthazar, where he had his last (private) dinner before returning to London. Read more here. This week Bruce Palling embarrassed his hosts New Media Publishing on Twitter, by refusing to attend the Restaurant Awards Gala Dinner if he were not given a Business Class ticket to get to Cape Town! He will not be attending the dinner as a result! Read more here.
Eat Out announced its Finalist Top 20 Restaurant list in September, from which the Top 10 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Award winners will be announced on 25 November. Despite the services of Bruce Palling, Mrs Donnelly once again showed that she is biased in her restaurant selection, having included The Pot Luck Club in the Top 20 Finalist shortlist. We all know that Mrs Donnelly has a very soft spot for its owner Chef Luke Dale-Roberts, but the same rules must apply to all. When it was pointed out to her on our Blog that the restaurant had not been open for a full twelve months, the only award criterion, the restaurant was removed from the Top 20 list.
Werner Hayward, Brand Manager of Eat Out publisher New Media Publishing, admitted that including the Pot Luck Club had been a ‘stupid mistake’!

A number of other inconsistencies have raised eyebrows: Grande Provence Chef Darren Badenhorst worked alongside Chef Darren Roberts for more than a year, as did Chef Eric Bulpitt at The Roundhouse work alongside Chef PJ Vadas before he left. Grande Provence was not evaluated for the Top 20 list, while The Roundhouse was! Last year Rust en Vrede had to sit out a year, when David Higgs left, even though Chef John Shuttleworth had worked alongside Chef David for more than a year. This highlights how inconsistent the application of the rules for the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurants Awards is!

The nineteen Eat Out 2012 Top 10 Restaurant Awards finalists are the following:
Cape Town: Bizerca Bistro, The Greenhouse, La Colombe, Planet Restaurant, The Roundhouse, The Test Kitchen
Stellenbosch: Delaire Graff, Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, Makaron, Overture, Rust en Vrede, Terroir, Tokara
Franschhoek: Babel, Pierneef à La Motte, The Tasting Room
Other: DW Eleven-13, Hartford House, Restaurant Mosaic (Read more here)
The focus of the Eat Out Top 19 Finalist Restaurants is in line with international trends, and our chefs are experimenting in creating new dishes, and are sharpening their ethics, in cooking what is in season, and in limiting their sourcing to a limited geographic distance from their kitchens, reported Eat Out in evaluating ‘trends’ in our top restaurant kitchens. Imported gourmet delicacies are taking a back seat. Read more here.

Gourmet village Franschhoek is upping its game, with two local chefs having spent some weeks in the past three months at Noma in Copenhagen, the number one restaurant on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and bearing a 2-Michelin star rating since 2008. Both Chef Shaun Schoeman from Fyndraai Restaurant at Solms-Delta and Chef Chris Erasmus from Pierneef à La Motte returned inspired and have fine-tuned their menus and cooking to incorporate Nordic cuisine into their local gourmet offering. Read more here. Neil Perry, top Australian chef of flagship restaurant Rockpool in Sydney, visited chefs and restaurants in South Africa last month, and returned to his home country, encouraging Australians to experience our ‘Food Safaris’, reports Southern African Tourism Update. His trip was widely reported, and the Sydney Morning Herald sent journalist Anthony Dennis to accompany Chef Perry on his culinary tour, an unfortunate choice with his emphasis on our apartheid past in his article! Not only did the visit and resultant publicity reflect our country’s unique cuisine, but it also has tourism marketing benefits, the visit having been sponsored by SA Tourism. Read more here.



The highlight of the flood of reality TV series cooking programmes available to local TV viewers was MasterChef SA, its first season of 19 programmes having been largely seen to be a success, despite many aspects of controversy.
The MasterChef SA prize value advertised throughout was R8 million, of which a R7 million value was placed on the prize of a two year ‘ownership of the MondeVino restaurant at Montecasino. An explosive article appeared in The Citizen, disputing the prize and its value of R7 million out of the R8 million package (the balance being R 250000 in cash from Robertsons, a car from Hyundai, a trip to Tuscany from Woolworths, and a course on winetasting by the Sommeliers’ Association of South Africa with a year’s supply of Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve). The article quoted MasterChef SA winner Deena Naidoo expressing his dissatisfaction with the prize value, saying that he only received a two year usage of the restaurant, and in fact will only be present at it ‘about five times a month’, according to the contract he signed with restaurant owners Tsogo Sun. Read more here. The restaurant has been renamed Aarya, after Deena’s daughter, and opened last week. Deena added his ‘own flair to the menu and the restaurant would be a reflection of South Africa’, the newspaper reported.
MasterChef SA achieved reasonable Audience Ratings (AR’s), but the Robertsons Masterclasses by Chef Reuben Riffel received disappointing YouTube viewership figures. The hype about MasterChef SA never reached that of the Australian series when flighted locally. Most restaurant staff was unable to watch, as they were working at the time of the program. Most of them seemed surprisingly uninformed about the reality TV series, or were not interested in it, most chefs regarding it as ‘amateurish’. Sponsor Woolworths ran superb food advertising during the MasterChef SA episodes, well matched to the theme of each episode, and creating amazing appetite appeal. In the episodes too the Woolworths Pantry was well-branded when the Finalists had to source their ingredients from it. Surprisingly the in-store branding of the sponsorship of the reality TV series was low key, with small banners at the tills.
There was little Nederburg branding in the episodes. Its commercials were less impactful than those of Woolworths. Surprising was the low key product placement of Nederburg wines, given that the MasterChef SA kitchen was built for the show on the wine estate. Sponsor Robertsons went through the Social Media wars, its endorsement by Chef Reuben Riffel raising credibility and advertising honesty questions, and its Social Media Manager Sonia Cabano having been dismissed soon after she took on the job. Chef Reuben’s Robertsons’ (to which was added Rama margarine) endorsement cost him credibility as a chef, not having made the Eat Out Top 19 Restaurant Finalist list. Robertsons’ attempt at Social Media was a miserable failure in many respects, and appeared poorly managed, despite being run by the Liquorice social media marketing agency. MasterChef SA dislikes focused strongly on the judges. In general local chefs felt that the chef judges should have worn chef outfits, and not worn earrings and piercings, to set a good example to young chefs. The program series was criticised for the poor quality food that the Finalists prepared for many weeks, although this criticism subsided towards the end, when the Finalists had to replicate dishes made by top chefs Michel Roux Jnr of La Gavroche in London, Peter Tempelhoff of The Greenhouse, and Margot Janse of Le Quartier Français. MasterChef SA stimulated an interest in cooking, and in trying out more complicated dishes. It probably has stimulated interest in eating out at restaurants such as Terroir, The Greenhouse, Biesmiellah, Sel et Poivre, and The Tasting Room, all featured in the series.
A number of the Finalists have made the best of their MasterChef SA participation: Berdina Schurink has opened Bella Sophia Culinary Café in Pretoria; Thys Hattingh has changed jobs, now working at the Compass Group as a staff restaurant consultant; Guy Clark changed careers, and now is a chef for the Madame Zingara group, at Café Mozart and at Bombay Bicycle Club; Charles Canning and Samantha Nolan have a stand at the Old Biscuit Mill market on Saturdays, following in the footsteps of Chef Pete; and Lungi Nhlanhla is now Deputy Food Editor at Drum magazine. There is not one Finalist that has not benefited from his or her participation in MasterChef SA, being a springboard to living their passion for cooking.
Dinner Divas’ recently started on SABC2, and is a world first locally produced food blogger cooking challenge, being far more educational about what is happening in the programme than MasterChef SA. Read more here. The BBC’s ‘Come Dine with Me South Africa’ with hilarious Aubrey Ngcungama, and ‘The Ultimate Braai Master’ run by Overture’s Bertus Basson and DW11-13’s Marthinus Ferreira, are two further locally shot reality TV shows focusing on food.






Franschhoek has shown the wine industry that it is a serious wine destination, winning the Platter’s 2013 Winery of the Year a second year running, the accolade going to Cape Chamonix wine estate, and its winemaker Gottfried Mocke. Published for the 33rd time, the publication has started a ‘relationship’ with and has become ‘engaged’ to Diner’s Club, the credit card brand appearing on the wine guide cover for the first time. McDowall hinted that a ‘marriage’ may follow! For the new Guide, 900 wine estates and 7300 wines were evaluated, 54 of the wineries being new. The largest number of 5 stars was awarded ever, to 62 wines. The motivation for choosing Cape Chamonix as the 2013 Platter Winery of the Year, in addition to winning four 5 Star Platter Awards for its Greywacke 2010 Pinotage, Pinot Noir Reserve 2011, Chardonnay Reserve 2011, and White Blend Reserve 2011, is ‘Kaizen’, Platter’s editor Philip van Zyl said, the process of continuous improvement, and the seamless integration of viticulture and winemaking by the same team.  

This has made Cape Chamonix one of the top wine growers in the country, he said. Winemaker Gottfried Mocke has worked at Cape Chamonix for eleven years, and proudly shared the honour with his assistant winemaker Emul Ross, who has worked with him for just over a year. The husband and wife team of Chris and Andrea Mullineux did well last year, and repeated its performance this year, winning three 5 star Platter awards for its Mullineux Family Syrah 2010, Straw Wine 2011, and Schist 2010, and was recognised for Red Wine of the Year for its Syrah. Nederburg (Ingenuity 2011, Winemaster’s Reserve Noble Late Harvest 2011, Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon Private Bin D252 2012) and Fairview (La Beryl Blanc 2011, Nurok 2011, Jakkalsfontein 2009) also received three 5 stars each. The White Wine of the Year went to Paul Cluver Noble Late Harvest 2011. Superquaffer of the Year, selected out of 12 candidates in a 2,5 - 3 Platter star band and costing R 50 - R70 a bottle for reds and R40 - R60 for whites, was selected as the Muratie Melck Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2011. The list of 5-star Platter 2013 wines can be read here.
The wine highlight of the year and a magnificent PR exercise for our country was CapeWine 2012, organised by Wines of South Africa (WOSA), bringing the world’s leading wine writers, buyers, sommeliers and wine lovers to Cape Town and the Winelands. For an industry prone to criticism and politics, there was all-round applause and recognition for the hard work that WOSA put into organising CapeWine 2012, in making this what some called the best wine show ever held in the world! Read more here.
Nederburg Wine Auction guest speaker Mike Veseth, an American wine economist, based his talk on the book he published last year, entitled ‘Wine Wars’, and reflected on how to apply its principles to the marketing of South African wines in the USA. ‘Terroirism’, according to Veseth, or ’somewhereness’, creating a link to time and place, is the key to a successful wine industry, and selling wine in the USA. Veseth showered praise on South African wines, yet said that the ‘Wine War’ for our local wines will not be an easy one in the USA, calling for strategy and tactics, and some luck, as one goes into the marketing battle, given that the USA market is ‘crowded, intensely competitive, and structurally difficult to penetrate’, in part due to globalisation. To market South African wine successfully in the USA the wine brands need to connect personally with wine influencers. Marketing the wines as ‘South African‘ will not be successful. Each varietal must be marketed against others in the category. Wine labels should be the arsenal of the wine marketer, and not country of origin. He suggested a series of braais with groups of American customers, reflecting South African hospitality and one of our country’s most popular meals. Read more here.
South African wines were in the news during the London Olympics, with Brand ‘South Africa’ and ‘Fairtrade‘ on the lips of hundreds of thousands of Olympic Games supporters, branded on two of the three official ‘London 2012′ wines produced for the 2012 Olympic Games, reports Winemag. The Chenin Blanc and Rosé wines came from Stellenrust, the largest Fairtrade-certified wine estate in South Africa. For the first time in Olympic history, the International Olympic Committee contracted with Bibendum, a London-based wine merchant, to source 650000 litres of 2012 vintage wines, for sale at the Olympic Games venues in London.More Western Cape restaurants were recognised for their winelist quality than those in other provinces, it was announced at the Diner’s Club Winelist Awards 2012. La Colombe was recognised as having the best winelist, and its Ewan Mackenzie was acknowledged as the Best Wine Steward, both in the Western Cape and in the country overall. Read more here. Last week Nederburg cellarmaster Razvan Macici won the title of Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year 2012.

Babylonstoren never fails to amaze, and its new wine tasting centre, which also houses its bakery, cheesery, and charcuterie, not only offers a tasting of its own four wines, but also offers for sale two wines from each of the wine estates surrounding the Simonsberg. Owner Koos Bekker has a passion for the terroir of the Simonsberg, and came up with the idea of a ‘home’ on his wine estate for the wines produced at the wine estates on the ‘inner circle’ surrounding the mountain. When Babel restaurant opened on the wine estate two years ago, it served wines from the neighbouring wine farms when it had not yet made its own wine, a commendable service. A ‘map’ showing the ‘Simonsberg Wine Route’ is painted onto a tile collageon the wall, showing where each of the 27 wine estates, being Vuurberg, Zorgvliet, Thelema, Tokara,

Neil Ellis, Rustenburg, Glenelly,  Morgenhof, Remhoogte, Quion Rock, Knorhoek, Muratie, Delheim, Uitkyk, Kanonkop, Natte Valleij, Marianne, Mt Vernon, Anura, Glen Carlou, Neil Joubert, Backsberg, Noble Hill, Rupert & Rothschild, Vrede & Lust, Plaisir de Merle, and Babylonstoren, is located. A shelving unit stores the wines of the other Simonsberg estates, and each is sold at the cellar door price of each wine estate. Read more about the ‘Simonsberg Wine Route' here.

Sixteen Elgin Valley wine producers have launched a new Wine Route, which they have called ‘Elegantly Elgin’, to market the ’superior and complex structured wines synonymous with this district’, says its media release. Read more here. The KWV’s new Sensorium at its Head Office in Paarl, which pairs highlights of the KWV Art Collection with KWV wines, and which has brought the art collection under one roof for the first time, is a unique experience, and the first of its kind in the world. During one’s visit one tastes four KWV wines, each specifically paired with one of the paintings. Read more here.

An interesting presentation at the ‘Cape Chenin Unveiled’ workshop hosted by the Chenin Blanc Association fed back that research conducted amongst consumers found that despite Chenin Blanc being the largest cultivar in South Africa, at 19%, it has a ‘vague knowledge as a wine style’ amongst local consumers, with only 8% of all respondents interviewed knowing and understanding the cultivar. Chenin Blanc has a very low level of awareness amongst wine drinkers, which results in a low likelihood of it being bought. The research also showed that there is a confused segmentation of local Chenin Blancs, ranging from ‘fresh and fruity’ (and also less expensive) on one end of the spectrum, to the other end of the spectrum of ‘rich and ripe’, being the more expensive Chenin Blancs. Read more here.
The first ethically produced wines in the world have been launched in South Africa, the 26 wines carrying the new ethical seal of the Wine and Agricultural Ethical Trade Association (WIETA) reflecting that the wines have been produced using fair labour practices. The ethical seal is awarded to individual wines, and not to wine estates generically, and resembles the wine sustainability seal applied in this country. Read more here.





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 Winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of the WhaleTales blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the website.


The latest Sweet Service Awards winners are the following:


Pick ‘n Pay Franschhoek, for its supply of single milk portions… read more

The NSRI, for its assistance to the passengers of the Miroshga, which sank off Hout Bay…read more

Battery Centre, for staying open longer on a Saturday to replace a car battery… read more

The KWV Sensorium, for its personalised tour … read more

Garden’s Centre Car Wash, for assistance in getting a car started … read more
WOSA, for its excellent organisation of CapeWine 2012 … read more
A Build-It customer, for assistance in transporting a ceiling board … read more
TELKOM in Franschhoek, for fixing a line fault on the same day… read more
Merc Assist, for assisting in changing a tyre… read more
Computicket Camps Bay, for the excellent service from William …read more
Melissa’s, for embracing customer feedback positively … read more
Olympic gold medallist Chad le Clos, for agreeing to accompany Melanie Olhaus to her matric dance… read more
Twelve Apostles Hotel, for its invitation to attend Horst’s Table… read more
Oldenburg Wines, for their kindness in delivering some wine when their road was inaccessible… read more
Department of Home Affairs, for their efficiency in processing a passport at their Caledon branch… read more
Pick ‘n Pay, for its Manager Russell Thomas finding Greek yoghurt when it was out of stock… read more
Incredible Connection at Canal Walk, for the excellent sales service… read more
Allee Bleue for its invitation to try their Sunday Buffet lunch…read more
Pick ‘n Pay Franschhoek, for its assistance in cashing in on their Smart Shopper Card…read more
Mezepoli in Camps Bay, for its invitation to join a media group in trying out their great Greek menu… read more
Incredible Connection city branch, for the care taken in the sale of a computer…read more
Mezbaan Indian Restaurant at the Hilton Hotel, for the invitation to try its Thursday evening buffet…read more
Blues in Camps Bay, for its invitation to try their new winter menu…read more
I love my Laundry, for its invitation to attend a Taittinger Laundry party…read more
The Grand Café in Plettenberg Bay, for making the TV in one of their rooms available for the broadcast of MasterChef SA…read more
Shoprite/Checkers, for refunding holders of Velvet Sky tickets, when the airline went under…read more

Sinatra’s at the Pepperclub hotel, for its invitation to try their 50 Minute Business Lunch…read more

Glasfit Worcester, for excellent customer service…read more


The latest Sour Service Award nominations have been the following:

Ciro Beverage Solutions, for its heavy-handed non-existent service … read more

Southern Ambition Marine Safaris, for operating the capsized Miroshga with a number of defects… read more

The City of Cape Town Parks department, for closing a park… read more

Volker’s Feinkost in Paarl, for dreadful service… read more
The South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union, for its devastating strike … read more
SAA’s poor service on the flight bringing German journalists to Cape Town for CapeWine 2012 … read more
TELKOM, for cutting off lines in all of Franschhoek on a Friday … read more
Ramsay Media’s poor service in re-subscribing to House & Leisure … read more
Google South Africa, for its time-wasting workshop on a Friday afternoon …read more
Cape Town Tourism’s Skye Grove, for Tweeting defamatory comments about Errol Naidoo on an account that is linked to Cape Town Tourism … read more
Pick ‘n Pay Franschhoek for selling unloaded gift vouchers … read more
Ster-Kinekor, for refusing a customer to bring his coffee into the movie theatre …read more
Wine writer Neil Pendock, for his disparagement of women in general, women winemakers, and Women’s Day…read more
SA Tourism, for not paying its bills to its website server, and the website being down…read more
KFC, for its expensive food…read more
Multichoice, for its dreadful call centre service… read more
Incredible Connection city branch, for having run out of their internet cap before the end of the month…read more
Mercedes Benz in Culemborg, for its poor service in offering a licence registration service… read more

Fego Café at Exclusive Books in the V&A Waterfront, for its poor service…read more
FNB, for its poor service to its client Vovo Telo, which had just opened in the V&A Waterfront, and waited to receive a credit card machine…read more
Multichoice, for further poor call centre service… read more
Spar in the Cape Quarter, for its poor handling of the queue at the checkout…read more
Independent Newspapers, for its poor subscription service… read more
Sunday Times, for its movie promotion, which was sold out when one got to the cinema…read more
Kodak in the Eikestad Mall in Stellenbosch, for its poor service…read more
Pick ‘n Pay Express at the BP in Green Point, for poor service…read more
DSTV for the furore it created in taking out its programme schedule, and then having to put it back into their DISH magazine…read more

Premier Shoes, for their rip off in making number plates…read more

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