Winners of the 'Oscars' of the Hotel industry announced - #interhotelchallenge

Sunday, 6 August, 2017
The Distell Inter Hotel Challenge has become a red-letter annual event on the hotel industry calendar. 2017 marks the fifth anniversary of this initiative, a first in South Africa and a first internationally.

Described as a defining event for the hospitality industry in South Africa, the success of the Challenge has been labeled as the 'Oscars of the hotel world'. Although a competition that provides glitz and glamour, the true role is serious and deep-rooted providing a vehicle and a public platform for creating an environment of mentorship for the country’s hospitality industry.

Tonight the winners of the 5th annual Distell Inter Hotel Challenge were announced at a glittering gala awards dinner at the Southern Sun Cape Sun. Attended by Richard Rushton (MD Distell) and Volker Heiden (Area Vice President, Protea Hotels of Marriott International), the cream of South Africa’s hoteliers, chefs, sommeliers and vintners as well as top companies that supply the hospitality industry.

The initiative championed by Distell, is hotly contested as hotels around South Africa present their protégés. The candidates compete in different categories over a period of months culminating in a glittering gala event where the winners of the 2017 Challenge are announced!

In the Wine Steward Categories:
Best Wine Steward 2017: Michelle Swart from “NH The Lord Charles” representing Allesverloren & Van Ryn’s
Best Wine Steward 1st Runner Up: Alvezo Abrahams from “Cape Grace” representing Fleur du Cap and Bisquit Dubouché et Cie
Best Wine Steward 2nd Runner Up: Melikhaya ‘Grant’ Sondezi from “One&Only Cape Town’ representing Durbanville Hills and Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky
‘Most Promising’ Wine Steward: Nkululeko Khohlokoane from the “Cape Town International Convention Centre” representing Pongrácz and Monis.
‘Most Up & Coming’ Wine Steward: (‘The Wonga Prize’): Marie Manyoha from “The Palace at the Lost City’ representing Fleur du Cap and Black Bottle

Higgo Jacobs, Michelle Grimbeek, Michelle Swart(Winning Wine Steward), Nick Holdcroft & Sandy Harper

In the Chef Categories:
Best Chef 2017: Eugene Ramcharan from “Beverly Hills”
Best Chef 1st Runner Up: Gizelle Els from “NH The Lord Charles”
Best Chef 2nd Runner Up: Samkelo Hlophe from “One&Only, Cape Town”
Most Promising Chef 2017: Sive Godena from “Cape Town International Convention Centre”
Best Starter: Nicholas Freitas from “The Palazzo”
Best Main Course: Marcas Hendry from “Belmond Mount Nelson”
Lancewood Best Dessert: Andile Ndlovu from “Hartford House”
Best Presentation: Litha Salimani from “Southern Sun Waterfront”
‘Scanpan Excellent Kitchen Practice’ Award: Andile Ndlovu from “Hartford House”
Best Bread Baker: Togara Mabharani from “Belmond Mount Nelson”
Best Bread Baker 1st Runner Up: Cecelia Adams from “Cape Grace”
Best Bread Baker 2nd Runner Up: Brian Baumann from “One&Only, Cape Town”
Showcook ‘Man of the Match’: Shaun Munro from “Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani”
Best Team: “NH The Lord Charles” and “The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa”

To celebrate the fifth anniversary BRITISH AIRWAYS is flying the winning Executive Chef Tony Kocke, Beverly Hills to spend a fabulous weekend at The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa!
Hotel Awards: The Best Table Decoration won by “Sun International Table Bay” Cape Town, was for their sensational representation reflecting the ethos of the rich floral kingdom of South Africa.
The Most Glamorous Table was “Protea Hotel Edward”, Durban and
The Table We Would Wish To Dine At, “One&Only” Cape Town.

Apart from receiving sought after prizes, the winning candidates use this spotlight to springboard into the industry. Most candidates go on to take on jobs that fast-track them into key positions in hotels, safari lodges, restaurants and other parts of South Africa’s hospitality industry. Some go on to successful careers internationally, becoming ambassadors for our hospitality industry. The hotels regard the Challenge as a platform for their own skills upliftment programmes. The culminating gala evening is an opportunity to offer tangible recognition and public acknowledge of their own candidates. Many use the programme to ultimately promote from within.

Overall sponsor:  Distell.
Suppliers of superb local ingredients throughout the competition; Woodview Wagyu & Angus Beef, Lancewood Cheese, La Vie de Luc, Rio Largo Olive Oil, Bio-Wheat Flour, Khoisan Sea Salt and Avanti.

Providers of the competition’s major prize line-up: Distell, JW Marquis Marriott, Ritz Carlton Marriott both in Dubai, British Airways, KitchenAid, Hospitality Property Fund, International Hotel School, AL&CD Ashley, Von Geusau and Random House Struik.


Partners of Showcook, Annette Kesler and Chania Morritt-Smith, the high-energy organisers and founders of the Inter Hotel Challenge initiative, believe the most important achievement of the annual event is that the hotels encourage and mentor young talent in an industry that plays a crucial role in the South Africa’s tourist industry.

“The hotel industry is the heartbeat of tourism,” says Annette Kesler. “It is essential that we maintain the high standards of our hospitality industry but we also have to make sure those same high standards are maintained going into the future.”

“The Distell Inter Hotel Challenge is an initiative that has far-reaching social responsibility objectives,” says Chania Morritt-Smith.

This event is unique where those hotels participating have become a unified force ensuring a strong and viable hospitality industry, encouraging excellence, meeting the demands of this vigorously growing sector, in tourism, which has become a major player in job creation in South Africa.

Ms Tokozile Xasa, Minister of Tourism who has given her continuous and unstinting support states, ‘While I can’t be with you tonight, I would like you all to know that our department will work hand in hand to grow this dynamic sector. I wish to pledge my support for your role in better positioning South Africa for economic growth, skills development as well as job creation, investment potential and ultimately to make South Africa a destination of excellent choices. The Inter Hotel Challenge is an epic programme that has grown in magnitude with the deeper objective to ensure a future generation of chefs and sommeliers - a showcase for young talent and the place and the event where hotels proudly present an ultimately elevate the cream of their new talent.  May this valuable initiative grow from strength to strength.’



Michelle Swart - Winning Wine Steward (NH Lord Charles)
Michelle Swart - Winning Wine Steward (NH Lord Charles)

Grant Melikaya Sondezi (2nd Runner Up) Michelle Swart (Winner) & Alvezo Abrahams (1st Runner Up)
Grant Melikaya Sondezi (2nd Runner Up) Michelle Swart (Winner) & Alvezo Abrahams (1st Runner Up)

CTICC winners of Most Promising Wine Steward & Chef - Nkululeko Khohlokoane & Sive Godena
CTICC winners of Most Promising Wine Steward & Chef - Nkululeko Khohlokoane & Sive Godena

The Winning NH Lord Charles team
The Winning NH Lord Charles team

Best Table Decoration - Sun International Table Bay Hotel
Best Table Decoration - Sun International Table Bay Hotel

Hanging desserts
Hanging desserts

Marie Manyoha & Jean Vincent Ridon
Marie Manyoha & Jean Vincent Ridon

Protea Hotel flowers
Protea Hotel flowers

Michelle Grimbeek (Cape Wine Academy) & Michelle Swart (NH Lord Charles) = Best Wine Steward
Michelle Grimbeek (Cape Wine Academy) & Michelle Swart (NH Lord Charles) = Best Wine Steward

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