OCTOBER 2011  

After the worst ever tourism winter, which has seen the closure of many restaurants and hotels not only in Cape Town, but country-wide, business is slowly picking up, but it is nowhere near the occupancy levels experienced in previous years. The pressure on the tourism industry has created pressure on the tourism bodies responsible for the marketing of their cities and towns. Oddly, the Cape Town tourism marketing bodies have become very defensive when we identified the Tourism Crisis in the Cape, playing with words to downplay the extent of the tourism downturn.

We have been observing that the Tourism Bureaus in Hermanus and Cape Town have been increasingly using personal politics for personal gain. In the case of Hermanus, the members saw through the shenanigans of the previous Board of the Hermanus Tourism Bureau, and of the Cape Whale Coast Destination Marketing Organisation, and took matters in their own hands to get both these Boards closed down. In the case of Cape Town Tourism, the mismanagement of Tourism marketing monies, and the use of Social Media to settle personal scores, is becoming increasingly evident, and we have taken the drastic step of not renewing our longstanding membership. Interesting is that what we have written about Cape Town Tourism recently on our Blog has led to an unprecedented bullying threat by Cape Town Tourism to muzzle us!

Our Blog unique readership has remained steady at around 30000 per month, and we celebrated its 3rd anniversary last month, as well as the 10th anniversary of our WhaleTales newsletter. The most popular blogposts in the past three months have been the marriage of Prince Albert and Princess Charlène, the review of Reuben’s Franschhoek, our call for a new joint Tourism Marketing body for Cape Town, our review of Etienne Bonthuys’ Stellenbosch restaurant Casparus, and our Open Letter to Cape Town Tourism.

We have covered a large amount of material in this newsletter, and refer our readers to the links provided, to read further detail.


Chris von Ulmenstein
Owner, Whale Cottage Portfolio  


Whale Cottage Camps Bay resigns Cape Town Tourism membership

German tourism increases, UK tourism plummets 

Charly’s Bakery turns Cape Town into Cake Town!
Whale of a new Hermanus Wine Route map

Sweet & Sour Service Awards


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It was our blogpost about the Australian Strategetic Consultants’ (headed by Ian Macfarlane) appointment to write a ‘strategic plan’ for Cape Town that appeared to have irritated Cape Town Tourism and its management, when we asked the critical question: “So who the ‘bloody hell’ is Cape Town Tourism’s new Australian Strategetic Consultant?”. I have been intrigued by the appointment by Cape Town Tourism of its new strategy consultant from Australia, ever since the city’s tourism body had him on the stage to part-present the so-called ‘Strategic Plan’ for Cape Town in August. The more I searched for information about consultant Ian Macfarlane, the less I found! My first impression of him at the meeting was one of being patronised by an Australian comedian, cracking jokes with a ‘dof’ Cape Town tourism audience. We were served obvious information about the state of the international tourism world, and told to focus on ‘urban tourism’. We were told controversial things, such as the exchange rate has no bearing on tourism arrivals. It was Macfarlane’s business card that intrigued me. Billed by Cape Town Tourism as a brand strategy development specialist, I was surprised when Macfarlane’s business card, for his company Strategetic Consultants, had a non-existent web address’. I wondered if his attention to detail could be so poor that he cannot get his company website address correct on his business card. Macfarlane’s biggest ‘claim to fame’, which would have motivated Cape Town Tourism to appoint an international consultant, was his ‘involvement’ with the ‘100% Pure New Zealand” and “So where the bloody hell are you?” campaigns for Tourism New Zealand and Tourism Australia, respectively, many years ago. In doing the Google search about the Aus$ 180 million Tourism Australia campaign, I read on Wikipedia that this campaign was a miserable failure, and had to be canned, as the UK media refused to flight it, due to its headline! Tourism numbers dropped as a result of the campaign, not quite what they had planned, one would think. Surely this is not what Cape Town Tourism wants for Cape Town? The Google search about Macfarlane interested me from a Marketing perspective, because a strategy consultant with such a strong marketing ‘involvement’ could be expected to be reasonably good at marketing himself and his consultancy services. This is not the case at all! His appointment by Cape Town Tourism was not pre-announced, and his name is no longer visible on the Cape Town Tourism website. As a Cape Town Tourism member, Macfarlane’s appointment signalled that Cape Town Tourism is incapable of writing a Strategic Plan and a Marketing Plan for Cape Town, having been entrusted with R40 million by the City of Cape Town to market Cape Town as a business and leisure tourism destination.
What interested me was that an Australian consultant was appointed, and not a Cape Town or South African one, and what his credentials were to be appointed as the Strategic Consultant? Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold was defensive in her reply, in motivating the expenditure of a maximum of R170000. Our request to receive a copy of the ‘Marketing Strategy/Plan has received no response. We question whether, as an Australian ‘tourism consultant’, Macfarlane is the right man to have been appointed to prepare a ‘Strategic Plan’ for Cape Town, particularly as he lists Sydney as a client, a city which is a significant competitor to Cape Town! The actual scope of the project sounds vague and even academic in many respects, and could be a concern in itself, as a poor brief could lead to a poor plan. The domestic market must be an important focus, one would think, in these trying times, but it is not mentioned in the Cape Town Tourism brief at all, and Macfarlane would have no expertise of the local market. Given Macfarlane’s poor ability to market himself, his business, and Australia, we question his ability to do this for Cape Town! It took Cape Town Tourism two days to formulate a response to our blogpost, posting a detailed reply on their website.
Cape Town Tourism conducted a series of ‘Brand Cape Town’ workshops, to share with its members as well as bloggers and other stakeholders what the outcome has been of a brainstorming session to find a positioning for Cape Town and what it can/should be, and to focus its marketing activities, not only from a Tourism perspective, but also from a general Business approach. Scanning the external environment, it identified a number of threats, including the reality that the seasonality in Cape Town’s tourism industry, unique to our city compared to others in the country, reflects that Cape Town does not have enough Business Tourism. Comparing the positioning of major world cities, e.g. Paris is Romance, New York is Energy, London is Tradition, it has historically been Beauty for Cape Town. Through its analysis, it was identified that the positioning of Inspiration is an overarching one that can position Cape Town beyond its more narrow tourism focus, to a broader one, reflecting the strengths of the City in respect of beauty, freedom, innovation, hope, creativity, diversity, dreams, ideas, and solutions to problems. Despite our feedback that Edinburgh, Korea and Pick ‘n Pay have used this positioning, Cape Town Tourism has not amended its point-of-difference for marketing the city!


The Cape Town Tourism “A Strategic Plan for Cape Town Tourism and Destination Brand for Cape Town” workshop was wishy-washy, and did not meet the promise of a “Strategic Plan”. I left the two-hour presentation concerned, convinced that Cape Town Tourism does not have a clue about Marketing, despite the appointment of the consultant! When Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold introduced the session at the Baxter Theatre, I was concerned when the word ‘Marketing’ was not mentioned at all.

Contrary to the invitation to hear the presentation of a ’strategic plan for Cape Town’, Mrs Helmbold talked about an ‘intervention strategy’ that was to be an open-forum discussion, to which they wanted input. Much of what she had said at the Brand Cape Town presentation was re-packaged, but with some changes. For example, the upturn Mrs Helmbold had predicted for 2014 just two months earlier is no longer on the table, saying that we will never recover to 2008 levels. She urged us to become ’scouters of change’. She said it would be suicide if we looked for new markets, such as business tourism and the domestic market, and neglected the 80 % of tourists coming from our traditional European (Germany, Netherlands, France and Italy), UK, and USA markets, contradicting what she had said at the ‘Brand Cape Town’ presentations. The marketing message for Cape Town must be changed to be relevant to more people. Most people in the world are in ’survival mode’, and not thinking of travelling. “We must speak to people in their mindset, so that they put us on their bucket list”! In the past 24 months, 118 tourism businesses closed in Cape Town, she said. No job creation is occurring in tourism, given the reduced tourism growth since 2008. We are over-reliant on the traditional long-haul market, and should attract more locals, but the international tourism spend is far more lucrative. The domestic market is the toughest ‘nut to crack’, she said, as it comes with such established preconceptions about a city like Cape Town, e.g. it rains all the time, it is so expensive, and it is so far away! For the domestic market these are realities. This market should be attracted to Cape Town for short city breaks. The only element of a ‘Strategic Plan’ I picked up was its Vision: “To make Cape Town a ‘must visit’ city”! This means that visitors must be encouraged to come now and spend more. Very briefly, some marketing activities were mentioned, too specific to be a ‘Strategic Plan’, including:


promotions of the city, with showcases on Discovery (interestingly, the Tourism New Zealand campaign also focused strongly on the Discovery channel, and the channel is a client of Macfarlane) and National Geographic channels, a joint project with the tourism offices of Durban and Johannesburg, as well as of SA Tourism. Within these programs, city-specific ads and promotional programs will be placed.

packaging food and wine events under one umbrella, to establish Cape Town as the Gourmet Capital of Africa (the city cannot lay claim to this, as this accolade belongs to Stellenbosch)
tourists must go beyond the usual city tourist attractions, and should be involved in the history of the city, in experiencing the story of freedom in a creative way, and incorporating the Fan Walk.
proactive PR
do more direct marketing with the consumer via the Cape Town Tourism website, with real-time bookability
‘community-building’ on-line via social media
appointment of an ad agency, to create a brand campaign, to be launched on 17 October.
local content about Cape Town is to be created and distributed via the Cape Town Film Commission
reviewing and probably reducing the number and location of the Cape Town visitor centres, eighteen being too many.
A Brand Ambassador campaign, using Cape Town residents as communication icons, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Olympic swimmer Natalie du Toit, and SABC3 Expresso Show and Kfm presenter Liezl van der Westhuizen. The day after the presentation, the Cape Argus headline screamed “Tutu: tax wealthy whites”, hardly the brand ambassador needed for Cape Town!
inviting visitors to Cape Town to attend blog club meetings
targeting the ‘young black market’

No exact ’strategic plan’, let alone a Marketing Plan for Cape Town, was presented, which is what we were expecting! It was a collection of clichés. After the presentation of the ‘Strategic Plan’, our concern about the lack of marketing by Cape Town Tourism, and the wasteful expenditure when it does spend money, grew. An example was that Cape Town Tourism embraced the ‘100 Women 100 Wines’ competition, promoting it actively, doing its publicity, and listing it in its ‘Strategic Plan’ as a means to ’stimulate domestic tourism demand’. The competition brought 100 women to the V&A Hotel in the Cape Town Waterfront for one day, hardly a major boost to domestic tourism, especially as a number of the participants were from the Cape anyway! The wine industry slated the event as ‘frivolous’, ’patronising’, and a ’joke’! Sponsors of the competition were TOPS by Spar, Newmark Hotels (V&A Hotel), Destiny magazine (with a circulation of 26128 ‘black diamonds’), and Cape Town Tourism paid R20 000 to Clare McKeon-McLoughlin of Spill Blog to be a sponsor, an unheard of expenditure by a tourism body, which usually just lends its name to an event. The aim of the competition was to generate “South Africa’s Best 100 Wines” list, a ludicrous claim made by Cape Town Tourism in its patronizing media release, which stated that ‘this event will see women from different backgrounds being empowered as opinion leaders in the field of wine, and will set in motion the debunking of the myth that this right is reserved for the connoisseurs and the ‘bourgeois”. Their website post also stated that the participants reflected the South African demographic profile, but the ‘black diamonds’ dominated. Wine writer Neil Pendock was heavily involved, but was ’shy’ about disclosing his role. Pendock is known as a very critical wine writer, and would have slated such a frivolous competition, had he not been involved in its organisation, especially as the wines were ‘judged’ sighted at the event, his biggest criticism of Platter judging.
The ANC’s Lynne Brown (previous Premier of the Western Cape) and Carol Beerwinkel are blaming Premier Helen Zille for having caused the tourism crisis in the province. Writing on Politicsweb, the ANC politicians stated that it is the ‘DA’s politicking’ that caused the underfunding of tourism. The R40 million budget allocated to Cape Town Tourism by the City of Cape Town is too little to ‘properly market and grow the Western Cape as an international desired destination’, they wrote (the budget goes to the marketing of Cape Town only). They state that it was Ms Zille, in her previous role as Mayor, who cut the budget, ‘to plunge the industry into the dire situation it finds itself in now’. From having been the top tourist destination for local tourists, the Western Cape has slipped to fourth position. They blame the DA for playing ‘political football’ with an industry that has an important job creation responsibility. This led to Cape Town Routes Unlimited and Cape Town Tourism being divided, which meant that Cape Town could not capitalise on the World Cup, ‘with many tourism products like hotels and restaurants underutilised‘, they wrote. ‘Today we see a fragmented and scattered messaged marketing plan which is very dangerous to the industry’, they wrote in poor English. The writers conclude that ‘no amount of money in the short term will fix the problem, if some basic problems are not addressed in the industry’, and they call for an Indaba to allow the transformation of the industry. We agree that the Marketing Plan is poor (being ‘dangerous’, as they describe it, may be an exaggeration), but one wonders how they know what is in the Marketing Plan, as no one in the tourism industry has seen a copy of the Plan, Cape Town Tourism refusing to make it available to members, and it has not been posted on their website. Ms Brown appears to have forgotten the tourism structure in the province. She should know that Cape Town Tourism is only focused on marketing Cape Town. The poor tourism performance since the World Cup cannot be laid at the door of Premier Zille, but rather must be blamed on the recession, the excessive rates charged by FIFA’s MATCH agency, and the oversupply of accommodation, developed to cash in on the world’s largest sporting event. We must also question how the City of Cape Town could have allocated the marketing funds to Cape Town Tourism, without evaluating the Marketing capabilities of the organisation. With Cape Town Tourism’s CEO having no marketing experience, her organisation had to appoint a Marketing Manager, and the first incumbent of the job was Lianne Burton, a journalist. Cape Town Tourism was anchorless as far as Marketing goes when she left at the beginning of this year, at a time when the tourism industry slid into crisis mode. We doubt that the newly appointed Executive Marketing Manager Velma Corcoran will make any difference, coming from FMCG brand strategy and research consultancy OIL, linked to the Lowe Bull group, where she headed up its Cape Town office. Mrs Corcoran’s first faux pas, on the day before joining Cape Town Tourism, was to rant as follows on public medium Twitter (@VelBotha) about SAA, an important partner for tourism in Cape Town, and her turn of phrase in such a senior position is not impressive :“EVERYTHING about #SAA makes me grumpy, miserable and pissed off. They seem to take pleasure in making it difficult”!
As much as the City of Cape Town evaluated the performance of Cape Town Routes Unlimited in terms of meeting its Marketing mandate, we believe that the City of Cape Town should do the same with Cape Town Tourism, as many tourism players do not believe that they are doing a satisfactory job in marketing Cape Town. Neither Cape Town Tourism not Cape Town Routes Unlimited has the creativity nor the expertise to devise nor implement a Marketing Plan for the city, and therefore a fresh and new joint city and province tourism marketing body is needed, we believe..
After a number of critical blogpost by ourselves about the poor marketing of Cape Town by Cape Town Tourism, given the tourism crisis, we received a letter from the Chairman of Cape Town Tourism, Ian Bartes, who heads up the Cape Town branch of the Airports Company, asking us to justify in a 9-page lawyer-written letter why Cape Town Tourism should not terminate our membership, due to two comments written by readers on our Blog. We wrote back, denying all allegations, and announced to Cape Town Tourism that we had no intention to renew our (expired) membership, due to the lack of delivery on promised membership benefits, and due to the lack of respect which we have been shown by Cape Town Tourism’s Mrs Helmbold and her Communications Manager Skye Grove. Ms Grove has been at great pains to disparage our Blog and its writing, tried to close down our website, and has Re-Tweeted defamatory Tweets about us. Complaints lodged with Mrs Helmbold about the defamation and disparagement we received as a member of Cape Town Tourism were rejected, showing the organisation’s lack of understanding of the law of defamation.
We have seen a very nasty collection of commenters slash, trash and bash either Cape Town Tourism and its staff, and also myself and my company on our Blog, without concern for the law of defamation, whenever we posted a story about Cape Town Tourism. To remove the censorship role that Cape Town Tourism has taken upon itself on behalf of the tourism industry, we took the decision to impose a ban on all comments for any blogpost we write about Cape Town Tourism, and closed the comment facility on past Cape Town Tourism blogposts. Genuine commenters are welcome to send an e-mail with their point of view, which we will feature as a Postscript to the relevant Blogpost, if it does not contain any defamatory or disparaging remarks, to whalecot@iafrica.com. This means that Cape Town Tourism can save money on legal fees, and its staff can spend its valuable time on Tweeting more, organising lunches with fellow Tweeters, and perhaps do some marketing. We apologise to our regular readers for this self-imposed censorship of comments, but the ‘Blog-bashing’ on Freedom of Speech by Cape Town Tourism, reflecting a paranoia that is most surprising for an organisation that has set itself up as being tech-savvy, and which has a Communications Manager who dishes out insults on Social Media platforms against Cape Town Tourism members, and even the funders of her employer (the City of Cape Town), is unprecedented in Social Media terms, to our knowledge. Cape Town Tourism will never stop us from Blogging, and writing on Facebook, Twitter, and in our WhaleTales newsletter what needs to be said about tourism, the marketing of Cape Town and the Western Cape, and about Cape Town Tourism!





Given the near drought of UK accommodation bookings for the coming summer season, it is gratifying to see an above average number of bookings from German tourists. A recent visit to South Africa, and to Cape Town specifically, of a group of German travel agents should see an even greater number of German tourists. The 2010 Soccer World Cup led to the immediate benefit of German bookings, given the outstanding coverage our city and country received on each of the days that the German team played during the World Cup. German TV station ZDF used our ex-Miss South Africa Jo-Ann Strauss as its presenter. Last month a group of 55 travel agents from Meier’s Weltreisen, a tourism company specialising in long-distance package tours for Germans and Austrians, visited South Africa, and spent time in Cape Town too. Meier’s Welreisen is one of the largest German tour operators, and is celebrating its 30th year of operation this year. “Germany is a key and crucial tourism market for South Africa, and we invest significantly in encouraging Germans to visit here. While our arrivals from the country are already posting a strong recovery, more than 17.5% increase recorded for the first five months of 2011, we also recognise the need to continue strengthening trade relations as an avenue to long term sustainable growth”, said Fiona Buchner, Regional Director: Europe, of SA Tourism. Buchner said that over and above showing the agents the tourist sites, they also wanted to show them the ‘welcoming people and enriching experiences‘ of the country, being the ‘typical encounter that the German traveller sees’. Meier’s Weltreisen Director of the Africa Division, Martina Beeken, said: “South Africa is one of our most important partners in terms of long-haul travel and we look forward to fully experiencing the fascinating cultural mix; warm, friendly and welcoming people and the beautiful scenery that South Africa offers. South Africa is a world-class tourism destination with an outstanding hospitality offering of which service, accessibility, and value for money are the foundation”. Fantastic praise indeed! In Cape Town the group was spoilt with a welcome dinner at which Cape Minstrels performed, an Amazing Race-style event through the V&A Waterfront, ‘champagne and oysters’ at Cape Point, and a transfer to the Winelands in vintage cars, reports The Event. The Whale Cottage Portfolio has seen a marked increase in bookings from German guests, some being return visitors, and others booking at Whale Cottage Hermanus in particular, to see the whales, guests seeing listings about the guest house in a number of German travel guides.
Cape Town Routes Unlimited is focusing its marketing work for Cape Town and the Western Cape on South America. A Special Edition of the Cape Town Routes Unlimited CEO Update provided interesting information about a recent trip to South America


SAA São Paulo Workshop, which was attended by 33 Brazilian tour operators, wholesalers, and incentive houses. At the workshop a ’speed-dating’ approach was used, whereby the Cape exhibitors and the Brazilian tour operators were each given 15 minutes to represent their tourism products, resulting in 841 business connections.
Visit SA Expo in Buenos Aires


More time was spent in Brazil, and here Cape Town Routes Unlimited picked up the positive perception that our country has ‘extraordinary tourism offerings, friendly people, a safe environment, and top-class infrastructure’. Their economic growth at 5% per annum appears to have been more resilient to the world recession, and tourism to South Africa grew by 69 % in 2010 (no numbers provided). With its massive population of 200 million it has fantastic potential for Cape tourism marketing. Brazilians travel for language training, events, wildlife, golf, adventure, and surfing in the main.

They are ‘habitual’ travellers, enjoying returning to destinations that they have had good experiences in. Marketing collateral is recommended to be provided in Portuguese, and SA Tourism is commended for having a website in Portuguese. The BRICS inclusion of South Africa will open a platform for tourism, investment, trade, sport and cultural exchanges, writes Gilfellan. Online Travel sells packages to Brazilians visiting South Africa, and 120000 brochures will be provided by the tourism body to the South African embassy. Media visits are on the cards, and host sponsors are sought. A group of 100 golfers is visiting our country this month, and one hopes that the Cape is on their agenda. Wine and golf workshops are planned for next year with Brazilian tour operators. A jazz exchange programme between the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and the Bourbon Street Jazz Festival in Brazil is being considered, allowing performers from each festival to perform at the other festival. A Memorandum of Understanding is to be signed between Cape Town and Rio de Janiero, and a twinning agreement to be established between Robben Island and Ilha Grande, a former political prison island in Brazil. An African Fan Village is being considered in Rio de Janiero for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, 2014 FIFA World Cup, and 2016 Olympic Games. It is time for Cape tourism players to brush up on their Portuguese and Spanish language skills, to welcome tourists from Brazil and Argentina. With excellent flight connections via Air Malaysia from Buenos Aires and from Brazil via SAA, Cape Town and the Western Cape are sure to benefit from a new tourism market.
Two major film productions are to be filmed in Cape Town soon, not only benefiting the local film industry, but the tourism industry too. This will help to establish the film industry in Cape Town as ‘one of the world’s most respected filming and TV destinations’, said the Cape Town Film Commission CEO Denis Lillie, reports the Cape Times. ‘The History of Great Britain’ will be filmed by an American company. ‘Labyrinth’ will be shot in the city later this month by internationally acclaimed director Scott Ridley. In addition, a coup is the filming of a 22-series TV series ‘Law and Order’ from March next year, a revenue boost for the city of R66 million. Lillie said that the local film industry employs 12500 staff, and contributes R5,5 billion to the Cape economy, and he expects the value of the industry to grow in the next year. The Cape Film Commission is also working in distributing films of local filmmakers through trade agreements with other ‘film capital cities’ such as Hong Kong, London, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Mumbai. The support received from the Cape Town Film Permit Office, the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape provincial government has ‘enabled Cape Town to become a world-class film-friendly city’, Lillie said. There is a possibility that the filming of the completion of the latest James Bond movie may move from India to Cape Town, it has reported. It is hoped that ‘Carte Blanche’, the latest James Bond book, will become a movie too, and will be filmed in Cape Town.
Cape Town is one of
three finalists for the World Design Capital 2014, with Bilbao and Dublin. The city competed against 56 cities for this prestigious accolade, which was won by Seoul last year, and has been awarded to Helsinki for 2012. A World Design Capital city is selected every two years by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, to a city that uses ‘design for social, cultural and economic development’. The Cape Town Partnership managed the bid for the award. The recent decision to position Brand Cape Town as an innovation hub supported the World Design Capital bid, and uniquely differentiates Cape Town from other South African and African cities. Odd was the information contained in a ‘Newsflash’ sent to Cape Town Tourism members, which stated that “..Cape Town’s bid theme is about the City’s use of design to overturn the negative legacies of its colonial and apartheid past that saw design dividing people, disconnecting the city, and relegating both people of colour and the urban poor to the fringes”. This mouthful of a statement, which does not make sense in blaming design for apartheid, gets worse in the rest of the ‘Newsflash’, and one hopes that the bid book contains a more uplifting and positive motivation for Cape Town to be selected as the World Design Capital 2014! The visit by the two judges from the Montreal-based International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, Dilki de Silva and Martin Darbyshire, to evaluate Cape Town’s bid for World Design Capital 2014, took place in July, in very wintry weather.


The judges were put through an active programme of activities, having flown in from Dublin. In their honour, yellow material was wrapped around 100 trees on Heerengracht Street, and the lights shining on Table Mountain were changed to yellow over the three day visit of the judges. Cape Town Partnership had used yellow as the colour for its bid, to represent optimism, and it was chosen as ‘an attention-grabbing, creative and inspirational colour. We chose it to represent our World Design Capital bid and it represents our passion for design as a force for change.’
On arrival at Cape Town International, the judges were shown the World Design Capital 2014 stand which had been designed for the Design Indaba exhibition in February, a rainbow-coloured perspex structure on which Design Indaba attendees were invited to write their words of inspiration about the city. The two judges were driven to the city centre in a MyCiti bus, and from the Civic Centre bus station to the Taj Hotel in a Green Cab.


There was no rest for the judges thereafter, being driven to the Cape Town International Convention Centre for a 7h00 breakfast the following day, at which the judges were addressed by Mayor Patricia de Lille, Cape Town Partnership CEO Andrew Boraine, Cape Town Tourism’s Mrs Helmbold, Cape Town International Convention Centre CEO Rashid Toefy, and Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille. Driven in Africa’s first electric car built in Cape Town, the Joule, the judges were taken to the Montobello Design Centre, to Khayelitsha, to view the Violence Protection through Urban Upgrade project and a community library, and thereafter to Mitchell’s Plain to be shown a Design Indaba inspired low-cost housing project. A highlight must have been a helicopter flip over the city. An evening event took place at The Assembly nightclub in Harrington Street, the most shabby, unsuitable and non-design venue that could have been chosen, and the industry was invited to attend this poorly organised function. An 8h00 breakfast with a temperature of 5°C at that time, seemed poorly planned, even if it was held at the beautiful Green Point Urban Park. After breakfast the judges were driven to Stellenbosch University’s Sustainability Institute and the Lynedoch Ecovillage, taken to Spier, to The Fringe in Canterbury Street, not the most savoury part of town, to the District Six Museum and the Fugard Theatre, and the Freeworld Design Center. We congratulate the Cape Town Partnership for its bid making the Finalist stage, but are sceptical of Cape Town’s success in this bid, for its heavy focus on the apartheid legacy, and design’s role in this, given the 17 years of a transformed political landscape. Claims that winning as World Design Capital in 2014 will bring in hordes of tourists should be taken with a pinch of salt, given that even being the number one TripAdvisor Travel Destination has not brought any tourists to our city! According to the Cape Times, the bids ‘are primarily assessed in terms of vision rather than pre-existing city features’, but no future vision appears to have been reflected for Cape Town, with its too great a focus on the past! The winning World Design Capital 2014 will be announced on 26 October.


For the 20th year the Two Oceans Hermanus Whale Festival paid tribute to the Southern Right whales, who visit Walker Bay in Hermanus from May - December to mate and give birth, giving Hermanus the enviable reputation of offering the best land-based whale watching in the world. Food and wine pairing formed a strong foundation of the Festival this year, sponsored by Two Oceans for the first time. The focus was educational, incorporating whales, sharks, dolphins, penguins and seals, the ‘Big 5′ for the Cape Whale Coast. Saving the endangered rhinos was incorporated into the Festival too.

On the arts side, the Festival was mainly music-focused, with concerts by well-known performers such as Chris Chameleon, Dr Victor and the Rasta Rebels, Steve Hofmeyer, and Prime Circle. Kfm did a fantastic job in promoting Hermanus and the Whale Festival, and 150000 visitors were expected to have visited the town over the weekend.
Franschhoek understands the value of regular events, and the power they have in attracting visitors to the village. During October it is hosting its first
‘Franschhoek Art in Clay’ ceramics exhibition, a Ceramics Fair, a pop-up ceramics shop, and setting up ‘pop-up’ restaurants in some of the participating galleries too. In addition, the summer season of ‘Cook Franschhoek’ takes place, and a Classical Music Festival will end off the month on a high note. The driving force behind the ‘Art in Clay’ event is David Walters, who is one of South Africa’s leading potters and has been working in Franschhoek for a number of years now. The participating galleries are Ceramics Gallery, Artefact, Ebony, Gallery at Grande Provence, IS Art, and La Motte Museum. The ‘Pop-Up’ Ceramics shop will be located in The Yard, and the Cape Craft & Design Institute and Ceramics SA will display and sell their crafters’ pottery on Saturday 29 October.
‘Cook Franschhoek’ takes place this weekend, and allows food lovers to rub shoulders with the local chefs and winemakers. Chef Chris Smit of Café BonBon is pairing with Haut Espoir wine; Chef Adrian Buchanan of Freedom Hill will prepare a meal paired with wines from the estate,
Salmon Bar’s Chef Judy Sendzul will do a salmon and trout tasting, paired with Boekenhoutskloof wines; Chef Paula Johnson of Le Verger at Le Franschhoek Hotel will pair chocolate hazelnut dacquoise with La Bri wines; Chef Ryan Smith of Ryan’s Kitchen will do an ice cream and sorbet pairing with Antonij Rupert Wines; Chef Chris Erasmus of Pierneef à La Motte will demonstrate cooking meat using La Motte wines, Franschhoek Food Emporium's Chef Robert Rittel will pair patés and terrines with Lynx Wines; Chef Shaun Schoeman of Fyndraai Restaurant will talk about veldfood flavours, pairing with Solms-Delta Winery; Chef Margot Janse pairs with Haut Espoir wines; and Chef Reuben Riffel will cook miso glazed Franschhoek salmon trout, paired with Boekenhoutskloof wines.
To end the month-long Franschhoek ceramics exhibition on a high note, talented Steinway pianist Christopher Duigan has organised the 8th Classic Music Festival for the last weekend of October. The programme kicks off with a tribute to ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, with Zorada Temmingh performing in the Dutch Reformed Church, utilising a restored 1925 silent movie version of the film, with organ improvisation, on Friday 28 October. On 29 October Claude Bolling’s suites for flute and jazz piano will be performed; a Food, Wine and Music tasting takes place outside Taste South Africa, with music by accordionist Stanislav Angelov; and ‘Music of the Night’ with Louise Howlett and Albert Combrink at Café Bon Bon, with dinner. On Sunday Christopher Duigan will perform ‘Liszt vs Liszt’; classical guitarist James Grace performs at Bread & Wine; and a ‘Festival Finale’ will be held at Café Bon Bon.
In May we conducted a survey of top-end hotel rates in Cape Town. Given the tourism crisis in the Cape, we repeated the survey, calling the same hotels, asking them for their
August rates. Ellerman House remains the most expensive Cape Town hotel by far, starting at R5000 per room, and the Peninsula All Suite Hotel is the least expensive 5-star hotel, at R1500 per room. The survey found that the average August rate of the sixteen 5-star Cape Town hotels was R 2715 per room, just under R1400 per person, an average decrease by 8% relative to the May rates. Across all 27 hotels surveyed, the average rate per room was R2227, or just over R1100 per person, only 8 % lower on average than in May. Guest Houses in areas such as Camps Bay charged a third of this rate!
Tony Ehrenreich, City of Cape Town councillor, has blamed the
crisis in tourism’ on overcharging international tourists: “The exorbitant prices for wines and crayfish are contributing to visitors feeling ripped off. And so the important word of mouth that underlies a tourist destination’s success is not assisting the South African industry.” Mr Ehrenreich also attacked provincial Minister of Tourism, Alan Winde, in excluding workers from the recently elected board of Cape Town Routes Unlimited: “As Cosatu we will insist that the workers’ interests be directly represented by a labour representative, before the funding to support the industry is released. We will further call for an independent body to examine the crisis, as the industrial players have been colluding with government at a local level. This collusion is demonstrated by the City Council giving the tourism industry R40 million to spend on themselves”! Mr Ehrenreich seems to be confused, in mixing up the roles of Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited. Minister Winde recently handpicked the Cape Town Routes Unlimited board, without advertising for nominations. Mr Ehrenreich served on the Cape Town Routes Unlimited Board for two years, and embarrassed the tourism industry as well as Cape Town Routes Unlimited when he made inappropriate and widely reported media statements, claiming that the Waterfront was charging rip-off prices, referring to the cost of crayfish at Panama Jack, which is not even located in the V&A Waterfront! He had to be silenced during his term as director, due to the damage he caused the tourism industry. Minister Winde has no say over the City of Cape Town’s R40 million allocation to Cape Town Tourism. If the Tourism Crisis would be so easy to attribute to wine and crayfish pricing, one could do something about it. Being’ ripped of’ for these delicacies is the least of the worries of potential tourists - rather it is being ‘ripped off’ by the airlines in terms of their fares that is their real concern. It shows that Mr Ehrenreich is completely out of touch with the reasons for the current crisis in the Tourism industry - high domestic and international airfares, the exchange rate, the severe economic recession in the UK (Cape Town’s major international source market), future uncertainty about Greece’s ability to repay its debt and other European countries experiencing similar problem, the current financial crisis of the USA, the oversupply of accommodation, and crippling cost increases whilst accommodation rates have remained the same or are being slashed!





Cape Town was put on the national map last week, when the first episode of the ‘Charly’s Cake Angels’ TV series, focused on Charly’s Bakery, was flighted on SABC 3 on Saturday afternoon. Each of the thirteen episodes focuses on a unique aspect of Cape Town, and will make Cape Town synonymous with Cake Town! Mother-and-daughters-team of Jacqui, Alex, Roche and Dani Biess are excited about the ‘mucking afazing’ (their cheeky slogan) opportunity they were given to not just make their well-loved distinctively pink bakery famous, but also Cape Town, the city they love, with its creative qualities.


Charly’s Bakery has operated for 21 years, and has become known for its designer cakes, and no design request for wedding and birthday cakes has been insurmountable, be it representing Cape Town, cars, fashion accessories, and many more designs.
In a most unusual manner, the tourism assets of Cape Town and beyond are built into the TV series. So, for example, the cake that Charly’s Bakery baked to represent Cape Town, and showcased at the
Design Indaba earlier this year, is covered in the ‘Cape Town Cake’ episode. So too, in conjunction with Cosmopolitan, a range of handbag and shoe cakes was produced and became the programme theme for the ‘Fashion’ episode. The ‘Revenge of the Rhino’ episode is dedicated to the birth of a rhino, particularly poignant, given the death of rhinos due to poaching at Aquila Game Reserve, where footage was shot for this episode. Table Mountain features in many of the episodes.

The number of 2012 American Express Platinum Fine Dining Programme restaurants dropped for the first time in its 14 year history, down from 88 restaurants in 2011 to 78 this year, with twelve of last year’s winners having closed their doors, reports Chef!. This demonstrates the severity of the hospitality crisis. The dominance of the Western Cape, with 33 of the 78 awards, highlights that the province is the cuisine capital of South Africa. New award entrants are also largely from the Cape, being Nobu, Bistro Sixteen82, Planet Restaurant, Reuben’s at the One&Only, and Pierneef à La Motte, out of eight new entrants. Three re-admissions are The Restaurant at Grande Provence, Bosman’s at the Grande Roche Hotel, and Saagries in Johannesburg. The major criterion for consideration by the Programme organiser Tamsin Snyman, in partnership with restaurant critic Victor Strugo, is accepting payment by American Express, which may have disqualified many other top restaurants from being eligible for evaluation. The judges evaluated the quality and creativity of the cuisine, the service, the wine list, decor and ambiance, the overall excellence, and acceptance of a booking for a table of four on the same day. The 2102 American Express Platinum Fine Dining Programme restaurants are as follows, according to Business Day:

CAPE PENINSULA: Aubergine, Buitenverwachting, Bukhara (city bowl), Catharina’s, Constantia Uitsig, The Food Barn, Gold, The Greenhouse, Haiku; Il Leone, La Colombe, Roundhouse, Savoy Cabbage
CAPE WINELANDS: 96 Winery Road, Boschendal, Bread & Wine, Fraai Uitzicht 1798, French Connection Bistro, Jardine at Jordan, Mimosa Lodge, Overture @ Hidden Valley, The Pavilion, Reuben’s (Franschhoek), Seafood @ The Marine, Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français
EASTERN CAPE: Hacklewood Hill (Port Elizabeth)
FREE STATE: De Oude Kraal
KLEIN KAROO: Kalinka Karoo Cuisine
GARDEN ROUTE: La Locanda (George), Sand @ The Plettenberg, Zinzi @ Tsala (Plettenberg Bay), Serendipity (Wilderness), Trans Karoo (Great Brak), Pembreys, Zachary’s at Pezula (Knysna)
JOHANNESBURG: Bellagio, Bellgables, Bukhara (Sandton), Butcher Shop & Grill, Byzance, La Cucina di Ciro, Gramadoelas, La Campagnola, Le Canard, Mastrantonia, Metzuyan, Osteria Tre Nonni, Piccolo Mondo, Pigalle (Sandton), Roots @ Forum Homini, Saxon, Sel et Poivre, Wombles, Yamato
PRETORIA: Geet, La Madeleine, La Pentola, Mosaic, Ritrovo Ristorante
KWAZULU-NATAL: Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse, Daruma, Hartford House, Harvey’s, Ile Maurice, Roma Revolving Restaurant, Spice, Sugar Club
We looked forward to attending the Toffie Food Festival and Conference, but many aspects left much to be desired, the organisers making a number of promises which they did not deliver on, it was very expensive to attend, and an odd collection of speakers was on the programme. It was the talk by ex-blogger Julie Powell, theme of the movie ‘Julie & Julia’, that made me book, disappointingly hungover for her talk! Despite enjoying the morning sessions on Saturday, it was the organisers reneging on the confirmed booked secret dinner venue that was the final straw. There was no theme commonality for the Conference overall. The venue was a tacky dark room in the City Hall, on a noisy corner with taxi-hooting disturbance from outside, and not in the downstairs main City Hall auditorium, as one had expected. We sat on uncomfortable cheap plastic chairs which had been wrapped in brown paper (this was the ‘creative’ decoration used throughout), which meant that there was a lot of rustling in the venue when one moved on one’s chair. The organisers clearly struggled to fill the venue, and ’gave away’ tickets on Groupon, unfair to those who paid for the weekend in full, as well as offered seats as give-aways on M-Net. Free Secret Dinner seats were offered via Twitter! The speakers at the Toffie Conference tried their best to make up for the poor organisation and behind-the-scenes dramas happening outside the presentation venue:
* Kobus van der Merwe, of the cutest Paternoster eatery Oep ve Eet, spoke about his love for foraging for West Coast foods in the preparation of his meals, including soutslaai, dune spinach, veldkool, seevygies, waterblommetjies, wild sage, and wild rosemary. He grows some of his own vegetables and herbs, and has access to free-range farm eggs, Khoisan salt, bokkoms, cow’s milk, and flour close by. Not only do Kobus’ dishes look beautiful from the colourful wild plants he adds, but he is also inspired by shapes from nature, having developed a breadstick in the shape of a branch, and uses streussel to create the look of soil. Bobotie made with calamari, meat or vegetables are a staple at his restaurant, as are gemsbok sosaties. Kobus calls his focus at Oep ve Eet ‘Earth-to-plate’, or ‘Terroir food’ His food ideas and creativity in its presentation are well worth a book, and can be seen on his blog Sardine Toast.
* Eloise Alemany is a small-print-run publisher in Argentina of her own books, written in Spanish, and which she described as combination food journal, cultural diary, story book, and cook book. Her passion is photography and publishing. The choice as speaker was unusual, as many a local cook book writer and publisher could have probably been more useful to food writers wishing to have guidelines about how to get their work published. Unusually the covers of her books ’Libro de Cocino’ and ‘Cuaderno Dulce’ have no food on them. She launched secret dinners in unique venues, such as an art gallery and a shoe shop, each with a theme, first for friends, and then expanded these when the unusual dinners received coverage in the Buenos Aires media. Buenos Aires experienced a ‘restaurant food revolution’ after the country’s financial crisis five years ago, and it led to interesting small neighbourhood restaurants opening.
* Anna Trapido was a lively and informative speaker about the foods that have shaped Nelson Mandela’s life, being the author of ‘Hunger for Freedom’, and was the theme for the unusual lunch we were served.
• Julie Powell’s success as a blogger, and subsequent author, in documenting her cooking of Julia Child’s recipe book in one year, and leading to the making of the movie ‘Julie & Julia’, cost her her marriage, which became the theme of her second book, called ‘Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession’. With her marriage on the rocks, Ms Powell decided to do a butcher’s course, a good escape for her, and she enjoyed ‘hacking up meat’. It is very ‘hip’ to be a butcher these days, she said.


She is concerned about the origin of her meat, and it must be organic, sustainable, and hormone-free. For her, food has good, joyous, generous and loving memories, as well as nasty and divisive memories. She turns to food in times of crisis. She said that she was judged for being a blogger, and stopped blogging when her first book was published. She does not follow blogs now, she told Elle Decor. She watches a lot of TV, but does not watch food programmes, finding them boring.


In New York pop-up restaurants and food trucks are a new trend. ‘Technology and blogging have woven us together and made the food conversation more cacophonous than ever before’, she said. An increasing number of people want to know where their food comes from ethically and environmentally. Ms Powell is working on her third book, not specifically about food.


I was fortunate to receive an invitation to a media conference about the celebration of Nelson Mandela’s 93rd birthday in July, and a meal was prepared at his last home before his release from Victor Verster (now Drakenstein) Prison, with 67 school children, 67 farmworkers, and 67 senior citizens being féted by four chefs to mark the 67 years that Mr Mandela sacrificed to ‘make the world a better place’. Chefs Jenny Morris, Reuben Riffel, Uncle Merv, and Marco Radebe prepared the birthday meal, the menu including Mr Mandela’s meals at Victor Verster and Robben Island, and those prepared by his present cook, to represent Mr Mandela’s favourite food. The menu was as follows: Cream of Tomato soup with wholewheat bread; Chicken liver on mash, or hake; Roast chicken, brown rice, carrots and beans; Salad; and Trifle, in rainbow colours. Journalists were shown around Mandela House at Drakenstein Prison, reminding us of the humility and statesmanship of our country’s greatest leader.


He had a television set, and read the daily newspapers. We were shown the lemon tree which Mr Mandela planted on the property. Mandela House is a national heritage site, and we sat at the table at which the historic draft constitution was signed by then-President FW de Klerk and Mr Mandela. Calvyn Gilfellan, CEO of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, said that it was due to Mr Mandela that South Africa had an upsurge in tourist numbers, only surpassed by last year’s World Cup. Given that Mr Mandela was released from Victor Verster, it was felt that the function to celebrate the birthday should reflect the Winelands’ reputation of being the Gourmet Capital.
The Cape Town city centre is seeing an ever-growing collection of good restaurants and coffee shops, including Hemelhuijs, Dear Me Foodworld, Tjing Tjing Bar, Escape Caffe, What’s On Eatery, Valora, Skinny Legs & All, Roberto’s Signature Restaurant, 6 Spin Street, French Toast, Jason’s Bakery, Haas Coffee, Piroschka’s Kitchen, Il Cappero, Maria’s, Bird Café and Gourmet Eatery, and the newly opened Rose Wale Lifestyle in Bo-Kaap.
Restaurant news is the recently re-opened Haute Cabriere Cellar Restaurant, with new chef Ryan Shell; the recently re-opened Bird Café and Gourmet Eatery, with chefs Leigh Trout and Kevin Mink; Toro Wine & Aperitif Bar; BREAD restaurant In the Bromwell Boutique Mall; the new value for money Summer Special offered by Bosman’s Restaurant at the Grande Roche; Cuvee restaurant  on Simonsig wine estate, celebrating its 40th anniversary of making Kaapse Vonkel this month; Valora Restaurant on Loop Street; the opening of an outlet for Martin Senekal, one of the most creative classic cake makers; a most disappointing dinner at Reuben’s Franschhoek; and the collection of 35 restaurants on Kloof Street in Cape Town. Café Le Chocolatier has opened Le Chocolatier Factory, making delectable Lindt chocolate and offering chocolate tours and courses.


I was fortunate to obtain a seat for the gourmet highlight of this year, prepared by Chef Richard Carstens of Tokara Restaurant, a 13 course dinner in honour of the closing of the restaurant El Bulli of the master of deconstruction cooking, Ferran Adria. Chef Richard’s food was characteristically El Bulli, with foams, and smoking, utilizing liquid nitrogen, and the unique dinner, which earned Chef Richard and his team a standing ovation, will put Chef Richard at the top of the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards in November, in our opinion.

Another talented chef to watch, who has just taken over the kitchen at What’s On Eatery, is Oliver Cattermole, who ran the Dash kitchen at the Queen Victoria Hotel.




I had the most heavenly experience, visiting the little-known and relatively new Hermanus Wine Route, with outstanding wine estates located in the beautiful Hemel en Aarde Valley outside Hermanus recently. It was at Creation that I received a number of A4 copies of the brand new Hermanus Wine Route map, with 17 wine estates: Creation, Jakob’s Vineyards, Domaine des Dieux, Mount Babylon, Ataraxia, La Vierge Collection , Spookfontein, Newton Johnson Vineyards (with new chef at its Heaven restaurant), Sumaridge, Bouchard Finlayson, Ashbourne, Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Southern Right, Whalehaven, Hermanuspietersfontein, and Benguela Cove.

A most beautiful as well as informative coffee table book about South Africa’s sparkling wine industry has just been published. ‘
Celebrating Méthode Cap Classique’ has been written by Di Burger, and is the first complete bubbly book. The book traces the history of champagne to South Africa’s sparkling wine industry, which innovated with Cap Classique forty years ago, being a bottle-fermented bubbly made in the traditional French style. Kaapse Vonkel was made for the first time by pioneer winefarmer Frans Malan at Simonsig in 1971, while ‘Cap Classique’ wines were made for the first time in 1992. Chairman of the Cap Classique Association, Pieter ‘Bubbles’ Ferreira of Graham Beck Wines, writes in the introduction to the book that ‘South Africa has the oldest grape growing soils in the world’. Combined with its bountiful sunshine, the Western Cape is a perfect location for growing grapes of excellent quality for the production of Cap Classique. Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) is the term which describes the South African bottle-fermented production of sparkling wines in the French Méthode Champenoise style. They are dry, with less than 12 grams of sugar per litre. The book includes profiles of the major sparkling wine producers (Simonsig, Boschendal, Graham Beck, JC le Roux, Pongrácz, Villiera, Haute Cabrière, The House of Krone, Laborie, Backsberg Estate, Avondale, Bon Courage Estate, Van Loveren, De Wetshof, High Constantia Wine Cellar, Steenberg Vineyards, La Motte, Morena MCC, Saronsberg, Colmant, Veenwouden Private Cellar, Mooiplaas, Quoin Rock Winery, Chabivin, Klasiek by Catherine, Namaqua Wines, MC Square, Domaine des Dieux, Lourensford, Old Vines Wine Cellars, Neil Joubert, Teddy Hall, Welteverede Wine Estate, Charles Fox, Francois La Garde, Longridge, Silverthorn Wines, Genevieve, LovanE Boutique Wine Estate, Saltare Wines, Tanzanite Wines, Ros Gower Wines, Wonderfontein, Cederberg Private Cellar, Riebeek Cellars, Groot Constantia, Dieu Donné Vineyards, Roodezandt, Aurelia MCC, Bramon, Viljoensdrift Wines, Sterhuis, Perdeberg Winery, Véraison MCC, and Allée Bleue Estate).
The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was treated to a wonderful feast of
Bistro Sixteen82 tapas with five excellent Steenberg Vineyards wines, and informed about their Social Media activities last month. Sales and Marketing is managed by Anetha Homan. Graham de Vries was recently appointed to manage Social Media for Steenberg Vineyards, and their ‘Totally Stoned’ Blog focuses on the wine side of the estate, but also incorporates information about Bistro Sixteen82 and Catharina restaurants. Social Media was first introduced at Steenberg in 2007, and Tweeting and Blogging is done corporately. In 2009 Steenberg Vineyards did its first Twitter Tasting, and it was a creative way for the wine estate to attract attention. This was repeated on a larger scale a few months ago. Research findings on Twitter trends in 2010 of South Africans (most Tweeters live in Cape Town, most Tweeting is done on Tuesdays, and from 7 - 8 pm) has been implemented in the Social Media strategy of Steenberg Vineyards. Twitter, Facebook, and Blogging has given Steenberg Vineyards a consumer communication channel, to pass on communication in a fun and informal manner, but even more importantly, to receive feedback from their consumers. New friends have been made via Social Media dialogue, and these have become Followers and, even better, Brand Ambassadors. The immediacy of sharing information is a major advantage.


Brad Ball has been the chef at Bistro Sixteen82 for two years, having opened it at Steenberg Vineyards. They have appointed Linda Harding as the Social Media consultant for the restaurants and hotel on the estate. Thoughts and experiences of customers are shared, and they look for interaction with guests. They like the flexibility of being able to promote a particular dish immediately, and not wait for three months or more until they receive coverage in a magazine. ‘Our blog is our press’, Brad said, referring to it as a cost-effective communication medium. Chef Brad has recently opened his own personal Twitter account (@BradBallBrand), to allow him to Tweet more personally, but he does realise that he still has limitations as to what he says, as he is linked to Steenberg and the Bistro.


He advised that consistency in content is important for the reader of blogs. He says that one ‘eats with one eyes’, and that is why they post photographs of their dishes on the blog as well as on Twitter, Tweets being carefully scheduled. The power of Social Media was demonstrated to the Bistro after they re-opened after a three week break at the beginning of September, to a fully booked first day, and it has been full every day thereafter. The Bistro did not stop Tweeting while they were closed, and competitions were run, with a count-down to opening day. The Social Media program for Bistro Sixteen82 positions it as a fun, vibey and enticing restaurant to eat at. We commend Chef Brad for being the only restaurant chef to have attended meetings of the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, demonstrating his dedication to and understanding of the benefits of Social Media.
To close the meeting, Matt Allison, one of the speakers at our August meeting, shared his experience of being the only South African to attend the MAD Food Camp organised by the world’s top restaurant, Noma in Copenhagen, led by its owner Rene Redzepi last month. It was a huge honour for Matt to have been selected as one of 250 urban gardeners and chefs from around the world. The Food Camp was the largest Northern European food festival, and alongside it ran the workshop, focusing on the relationship between restaurants and purveyors of fruit and vegetables. Chefs are encouraged to grow their own produce, if feasible. He was wowed by what he saw and heard, for example Amazonian ants preserved in gelatine by the chef of South American restaurant Dom. Matt is passionate about honouring the value of food. He has become such an authority on urban farming, working with local Cape Town restaurants and farming his own vegetables and herbs, which he sells on Wednesdays at Starlings Café, that he has been featured in the Sunday Times and the New York Times.
August Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting, held at Den Anker, and addressed by Matt Allison of ImNoJamieOliver Blog and Nikki Dumas of Swirl! Blog, was characterised by PASSION: not only in terms of the blogger speakers, but also in the fantastic food paired by Den Anker with excellent Jordan wines.

Nikki Dumas presented each of the attendees with a sheet of her ‘Twenty-one Commandments’ on how to blog successfully. She passionately expressed her love for wine, and all things related to it. Nikki’s suggestions for successful blogging are: 1. write something useful 2. write something unique 3. write something newsworthy 4. write something first 5. write something that makes those who read it smarter 6. write something controversial 7. write something insightful 8. write something that taps into a fear people have 9. write something that helps other people achieve  10. write something that elicits a response 11. write something that gives a sense of belonging

12. write something passionately 13. write something that interprets or translates news for people 14. write something inspirational 15. write something that tells a story 16. write something that solves a problem 17. write something that gets a laugh 18. write something that saves people time or money 19. write something opinionated 20. write something that is a resource 21. write something about something ‘cool’. Nikki’s passion for her own brand came to the fore, and she is a confident blogger, who knows exactly where she is going. She has two blogs - Swirl! is a blog she uses to document information about the wine industry, coming from PR agencies, for example. She does not allow comments on this blog. Winestyle.biz is the blog on which she writes her own blogposts, with about 4000 hits since she started it in April. She allows comments on this blog, even if they are controversial, to create debate. She emphasised that she is not a writer nor journalist, and that she will only write about something she judged to be good. Everything she experiences in terms of food and wine she evaluates against her career in restaurant management. She likes using Google’s Blogger platform, saying it is user-friendly. Her blogpost attracting the largest number of hits is the anonymous survey she conducted on restaurant listing fees for wines. She said she is a ‘Mac junkie’, and evaluates her blog performance through all the statistics that Google makes available, including Google Analytics, AdSense, and more. She knows exactly where her traffic is coming from, and which keywords are used to get to her blog. Nikki offers restaurant wine training, is a wine consultant in designing winelists for restaurants, assists wine estates in getting better sales in restaurants, and sells branded Wine Journals.


Without any notes, Matt Allison spoke from his heart, reflecting his passion and principles. With careers in the wine trade, as a graphic designer, and first as a musician and then as a music producer, Matt realised that he was spending too much time away from home, not what he wanted with his new baby boy. He realised he needed a change, and became a rare ‘house-husband’, spending almost all his time with his son at home. He loves food, and became the cook for the family, and his blog ‘ImNoJamieOliver’ was born a year ago when he decided to cook all 60 recipes of a Jamie Oliver recipe book in 90 days. He lost twenty days when he had his kitchen redone.


We laughed when he told us that his mother had engendered independence amongst her children, and it was a matter of ‘cook or die’ in their household. He has since blogged a further 60 recipes from a second Jamie Oliver recipe book. Matt presented who he is honestly, and described himself as a person with a 30’s nature, a 50’s style, living in 2011. Matt told us that blogging for him is a means to an end, and he has changed direction in that his interest now is the provenance of food. He has rented a piece of land from the City of Cape Town, and now grows 40 vegetable and herbs, not counting different varieties. This has led to seasonal eating, fresh out of his garden. He does not grow potatoes and corn, as these take too much space. Matt is critical of Woolworths, for their vegetables sourced from countries such as Kenya. He told us horror stories about supermarket vegetables being picked unripe weeks earlier, and artificially ripened He would like people to question where their food is coming from. He believes that obesity and diabetes can be fixed via ‘healthy food’. With his help, Cape Town and Winelands chefs at restaurants are moving to sourcing their herbs and vegetables from small ‘bio-dynamic’ (he does not like the word ‘organic’) producers, or planting their own. He likes restaurants that serve local, seasonal, and sustainable food, and operate ethically in all respects. Matt has about 5000 unique readers of his blog per month, and about 1300 Twitter followers, but his readership is of no consequence to him. He is ruthless in unfollowing and blocking on Twitter. He recently changed his Twitter name to @MattAllison, to build his own brand. Given his focus on the provenance of food, he will be launching a new blog “Planting Thoughts” soon. Matt says we pay too little for our food in South Africa, and told us what it costs to raise a chicken. He buys his meat from Gogo’s Deli in Newlands, or directly from farmers. Matt encouraged us to ‘think about your food’, that one should not evaluate a restaurant if one has not been a chef and a waiter, given that most chefs put their heart and soul into their meals. For him a good restaurant is one in which the chef comes out of the kitchen, offers great service, and has staff who love what they do. He encouraged one to do one’s own blogging and Tweeting, to reflect one’s personality, and to not outsource Social Media.
July Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting, held at What’s On Eatery, was a bubbly affair, with Batonage bloggers Maggie Mostert and Hennie Coetzee sharing their passion for the good things in life, being eating out and drinking wine, and then blogging about it. Siris Vintners kept things bubbly too, by taking the bloggers through a tasting of five Moreson sparkling wines. It was the first Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting to be sold-out the day before the event. Batonage is made up of two very passionate foodies and wine lovers, says its Blog introduction: “Together we decided to create a record of our adventures in food and wine, something we indulge in almost daily. We are avid wine hunters, always on the lookout for something new and unique to talk, write and spread the word about. When it comes to food we consider ourselves adventurous eaters, scavenging the latest food and wine pairing at the best eateries, but equally happy to indulge in uncomplicated fare at our local bistro. The focus will be on visiting wine farms and restaurants, both old and new, and telling you dear reader, of our experiences there. Every attempt will be made to make the information relevant and we might even make you smile once in a while”. What makes Hennie and Maggie interesting and unique is that their day job is far removed from their food and wine blogging, and that they write about both wine and food on the same Blog. Hennie was a Sommelier at Singita, and Maggie’s experience as a student-waitress and her accountant’s perspective gives her a unique evaluation of restaurants and wineries. She advised bloggers to be honest ‘nicely’, and to write what they would be prepared to tell someone to their face. Photographs and writing should not be ‘ho hum’, and one must spellcheck. She advised newer bloggers to attend functions, to eat out and drink a cross-spectrum of wine, and to discover new things. Hennie advocated the drinking of sparkling wine on more than just special occasions, and even Champagne, when the occasion calls for it.
The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was formed to reflect the tremendous growth in and power of food and wine blogs in forming opinion about food, restaurants and wines. Most bloggers do not have any formal training in blogging, and learnt from others. The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club aims to foster this informal training, and to serve as a social media networking opportunity. Each of the two bloggers talk for about half an hour about their blog, and what they have learnt about blogging. The Club gives fledgling as well as experienced bloggers the opportunity to learn from each other and to share their knowledge with others. Attendees can ask questions, and get to know fellow bloggers. The Club meetings are informal and fun.
Future Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meetings have been organised as follows:


19 October: Roger and Dawn Jorgensen of Jorgensen’s Distillery, and Anthony Gird and Michael de Klerk of Honest Chocolate, with a chocolate and potstill brandy tasting, at Haas Coffee on Rose Street.
12 November: Visit to new Leopard’s Leap tasting room and cookery school in Franschhoek

Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, Cape Town. Bookings can be made by e-mailing Chris at
whalecot@iafrica.com. The cost of attendance is R100. Twitter: @FoodWineBlogClu Facebook: click here.

The pioneering
Stellenbosch Wine Route, founded in 1971 by winemakers Frans Malan of Simonsig, Neil Joubert of Spier, and Spatz Sperling of Delheim, celebrated its 40th anniversary with an extensive wine and food feast and fest in July. The Route has established itself not only as one with the largest number of outstanding wine farms of the 18 wine routes in the country, representing 18% of all vines planted in South Africa, but also with the largest collection of outstanding restaurants in South Africa, Stellenbosch now wearing the Gourmet Capital crown. The trio which established the Stellenbosch Wine Route was inspired by the wine route Routes de Vins at Morey St Denis in Burgundy, the late Frans Malan and Neil Joubert returning from their 1969 trip and connecting with Spatz Sperling to establish the Stellenbosch Wine Route, the first wine tourism activity in our country. I was delighted to meet Spatz Sperling and his family on their Delheim wine farm recently. To create the Stellenbosch Wine Route, the founding wine farmers had to overcome red tape and bureaucracy, and even had to have wine legislation rewritten to accommodate the new Stellenbosch Wine Route. Meals were not allowed to be served at wine estates, and bottled wine could not be sold from a winery in those days.


The renamed Stellenbosch American Express Wine Routes has 147 wine farms, making it the largest wine route in our country. We wrote last year that the Stellenbosch Wine Route should create the Stellenbosch Restaurant Route, in honour of the cuisine excellence in Stellenbosch, including Rust en Vrede, Overture, Terroir, Delaire, Indochine, Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, The Long Table Restaurant and Café, Warwick, Eight, Wild Peacock Food Emporium, Pane E Vino, Bodega @Dornier, Cuvee Restaurant, Tokara, Towerbosch Earth Kitchen, Johan’s at Longridge, and Delheim restaurant.

A controversial and damaging 96-page report, entitled ‘
Ripe with Abuse: Human Rights Conditions in South Africa’s Fruit and Wine Farm Industries’, published by the New York-based Human Rights Watch, was met by a strongly worded media release by Wines of South Africa (WOSA). The report implicates the tourism industry too, benefiting from wine tourism. The Human Rights Watch report described less than acceptable conditions on fruit and wine farms. WOSA challenged the report, in that the selection of the more than 260 respondents for the report was not specified. WOSA CEO Su Birch wrote: ”The study relies on anecdotal evidence that uses the cover of respondent protection to avoid substantiating the claims it makes.” She added that the international media release to announce the report was not balanced in its presentation of information about conditions in the wine industry, making it misleading. The media release of the Human Rights Watch, entitled ‘South Africa: Farmworkers’ Dismal, Dangerous Lives’, blamed the wine industry for denying their staff ‘adequate housing, proper safety equipment, and basic labor rights’, and calls on the South African government to ‘take immediate steps to improve their working and housing conditions’. More specifically, the report highlights ‘on-site housing that is is unfit for living, exposure to pesticides without proper safety equipment, lack of access to toilets or drinking water while working, and efforts to block workers from forming unions. While the Western Cape’s fruit and wine industries contribute billions of rand to the country’s economy, support tourism, and are enjoyed by consumers around the world, their farmworkers earn among the lowest wages in South Africa. The report also described insecure tenure rights and threats of eviction for longtime residents on farms. The wealth and well-being these workers produce shouldn’t be rooted in human misery’, said Human Rights Watch Africa Director Daniel Bekele. It points a finger at the South African government in the main, in not monitoring conditions of workers, and in not enforcing labour laws. Only 3% of the local wine workers are unionised, the report says, and there were only 107 labour inspectors to investigate 6000 farms in March this year. Mrs Birch added that the report did not write much about the good work which the Wine Industry Ethical Trade Association and Fairtrade are doing, and about the wine farms with empowerment deals. “With positive examples of the progress made in redressing past wrongs rendered virtually inaccessible to all but the most serious readers, the report negates the work of those who should be allowed to stand out as role models to their peers”, says Mrs Birch. The Wine Industry Ethical Trade Association has more than eighty farms audited by the Wine Supply Chain Support Programme, and many of the members of the Association are writing compliance requirements into supplier contracts. In addition, training is being done about workers’ rights amongst both farm managers as well as their workers, in addition to a training programme ‘addressing discrimination and sexual harrassment’, writes WOSA. The largest number of Fairtrade wine producers worldwide are in South Africa. WOSA’s response to the complaint relating to lack of protection for workers spraying pesticides is that clear guidelines for the use of pesticides and worker protection are specified in the Integrated Production of Wine protocol, and is regularly and independently monitored. Should producers fail to meet the guidelines in this regard, they could lose their accreditation, and therefore their ability to export their wines. Housing conditions are also addressed in the Report. WOSA acknowledges weaknesses, but states that 200000 workers are housed on wine farms, and quotes Charles Back of Fairview questioning whether any other South African industry provides housing to the extent that the wine industry does. Responsible Alcohol Use, anti-alcohol abuse, and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome programmes are funded by the wine industry. Mrs Birch concluded by saying that the damaging report affects a South African wine industry already struggling with sales due to the strong Rand and the global downturn, and thereby affecting the jobs of the farmworkers even more. She states strongly: ”Let me make it very clear: we condemn out of hand any and all human rights abuses on wine farms. Our disappointment in the bias in the report is in no way an indication of our support for inhumane practices. It expresses our concern that trade and consumers all over the world could become alienated from South African wines. We call on Government to partner the wine industry in accelerating reform and in rooting out problems”. The Human Rights Watch media release ends off on a positive note for the wine industry: ‘The answer is not to boycott South African products, because that could be disastrous for farmworkers. But we are asking retailers (in the UK, Netherlands, Germany, USA, other European countries, and Canada) to press their suppliers to ensure that there are decent conditions on the farms that produce the products they buy and sell to their customers’, urged Bekele.


In walking around Franschhoek during the Bastille Festival in July, I was surprised to discover Taste South Africa, the most beautiful transformation of what was previously the Le Grange decor shop in The Yard, off the main road in Franschhoek. Taste South Africa belongs to Fiona Phillips of Cybercellar (”Where else can you buy virtually all your South African wine?”, her business card asks cleverly), and is the first multi-brand winetasting venue in Franschhoek. Fiona started Cybercellar twelve years ago, having been an equity trader on both the London and Johannesburg Stock Exchanges.

It represents more than 700 wine estates in South Africa, with deliveries of wines made by courier 3 - 5 days after purchase. Taste South Africa will function as a tasting venue not only for South African wines, but for local products too, such as olive oils, and cheeses. Not only is the concept unique for Franschhoek, and the interior design by Xperiencemakers is impressive. Wine will not be physically sold from the tasting venue, but orders can be placed via Cybercellar while one is at the tasting venue. Taste South Africa is an exciting new asset of Franschhoek, and a beautiful showcase of South African wines. Exciting functions have been planned, including food and wine pairing events, bloggers’ dinners, Twitter tastings, and a live-feed Twitter screen is to be added. The next Taste South Africa tasting venue will open at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg.




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 info@whalecottage.com. 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 www.whalecottage.com website..


The latest Sweet Service Awards winners are the following:


PJ Plumbers, for their speedy service ... read more

Nedbank, for its speedy service ... read more
Camerata Tinta Barocca, for their participation in a concert in support of Andrew Merryweather ... read more
Twelve Apostles Hotel, for their invitation to the launch of their new Spa ... read more

Toro Wine Bar, for their invitation to share in a birthday celebration ... read more

Bingley Tours, for bringing a forgotten guest cellphone to the airport ... read more
Keyworx, for their service in fixing a remoteg ... read more
Leaves Guest House, for their good service to a Cape Town guest ... read more
Western Cape Minister of Tourism Alan Winde, for making his contact details available on Twitter ... read more
The City of Cape Town, and its Paul, for assistance in changing address details ... read more
The Bastille Festival and its organisers, for a wonderful Festival with excellent weather ... read more
Catherina’s Restaurant, for replacing a bottle of wine ... read more


The latest Sour Award nominations have been the following:

African Day Wine Club, for not honouring an order which had been paid for ... read more

Coco’s in Hermanus, for poor service ... read more
Play Bar, for being unable to provide service before and after Baxter shows ... read more
The parking marshalls of Sea Point, for their rudeness ... read more
OR Thambo Airport, for not having a clear smoking area ... read more
Ons Huisie, for excessive charging ... read more

V&A Waterfront, for its parking payment machines being out of order so often ... read more

V&A Waterfront, for offering a prize to a Zambian hotel ... read more
SARS, for its poor service at its Paarl office ... read more
The City of Cape Town, for not removing palm fronds coming crashing down in wind storms in Fresnaye and Camps Bay ... read more
ACSA, for its massive increase in airport taxes ... read more
Vodacom, for a 4-hour countrywide network failure ... read more



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