Introducing some of our future top wine stewards

Monday, 29 June, 2020
Distell showed great vision when they took up the challenge in 2013 to assist aspiring wine stewards around South Africa, a decision that was fully justified by the young candidate’s eagerness to understand and absorb the finer nuances in the culture of the grape.

Learning about Distell’s superb spirits; brandy, whisky, gin and vodka have held endless fascination, leading to a positive understanding of these excellent products, celebrated on a world stage.

Introducing some of our future top wine stewards. Their studies will create a path leading to a lifetime career.

Reuben’s at The Ivy Villa Hotel & Spa

“My name is Rutendo Ruth Marovatsanga, a 27-year-old lady who recently graduated with a Diploma in International Hospitality Management. I relocated to South Africa a few years back in order to study at the Private Hotel School in Stellenbosch. 

Stellenbosch became the amazing first chapter of my hospitality journey, the winelands where my love and appreciation for wine grew. Wine tasting became a hobby, visiting food markets became a norm and pairing food and wine became de rigueur. 

Over the years I have acquired valuable information and knowledge about both food and wine and it is my aim to continue learning and enhancing my skills both in the kitchen and in wine service. 

With the endless support from family, my former school, and the Showcook program, which in all I surmise is the wind beneath my wings. I’m excited about every opportunity as it allows me to be the learner and eventually the powerhouse I intend to be,” shares Rutendo.

Sun Time Square

“My passion was ignited in 2013 when I was a restaurant waiter. Initially, it was just to keep me busy, however, I soon realised that I could make a living out of it and grow in the industry and could take me places!”

“One of the reasons that added to this take on of passion is because I fell in love with what I do, so I do it with all my heart and soul if I’m to say.
Out of work, I take most of my time indoors educating myself with all the info I might need about the hospitality industry to always up my game on top as I try to learn on daily basis and improve the service with my team.

I am currently employed with Sun International as a Food & Beverage Supervisor, my portfolio includes banqueting in the Hotel and F&B in the Arena. Sharing the best memories with clients is what I do best and I will never lose my passion for this industry,” says Peter John.

The Table Bay Hotel 

Amanda Moyakhe joined The Table Bay as a barman in 2018. Originally from the Eastern Cape, Amanda was trained at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. He has always been interested in the hospitality sector which offers him the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. He enjoys speaking to them and through these conversations, he often inspired to create new drinks and cocktails. Amanda has a passion for wines and pairing wines with food and is eager to learn the art of a sommelier. 

Being the first time that he has entered a competition of this nature, Amanda is nervous and excited but looking forward to the challenge and the chance to showcase his skills. He believes it will expose him to opportunities to learn new skills and the different aspects of hospitality.

TAJ Cape Town

The exposure and knowledge learned from the competition is something that is gained never lost! GOOD LUCK to all the participants, I’m in it to WIN it!

“My name is Devika Giga, I come from a very cultural Indian background. I am originally from Zimbabwe and been living in South Africa for six years. I studied a three year American Diploma at the International Hotel School here in Cape Town and graduated with distinction in 2016. I then decided I wanted to pursue my career further and studied at Stenden University in Port Alfred. I now hold a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Hospitality Management.

I’m currently working as a Hostess at TAJ Cape Town’s finest Indian restaurant, Bombay Brasserie. I am very grateful and honoured to be chosen to represent TAJ Cape Town in this year’s Distell Inter Hotel Challenge. Being part of this competition will give me the opportunity to enhance my knowledge to build my foundation to meet my career aspiration.” 

The Vineyard Hotel

“I intend to use my experience over the years and my love for the industry to push myself to reach further goals and make the absolute most of wherever I am!”

“I’m 28 years old and I’ve worked in the hospitality industry for over almost eight years within a 10-year period,” says Grant. “I started at Spur Restaurant in 2010 while still at High School, I learned a lot and fell in love with hospitality and the service industry. In 2014, I had an opportunity to work in the USA through Work Away International and did so at Mirasol Country Club in Florida for three seasons (six months each), from October 2014 to December 2016. An experience I wouldn’t trade for anything!

On my return to South Africa, I took the opportunity to work at Myoga for about a year. I then briefly went into the call centre environment thinking I needed a change and while I learned so much and pushed myself, and I achieved many personal goals like living on my own for the first time, my mindset had changed, I realised that my heart was always with the hospitality and the hotel environment. I then re-joined the Vineyard family, this time with The Square Restaurant as this is where my passion lies.”

Belmond Mount Nelson

By participating in the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge, Keegan hopes to further his skills and knowledge of South African wines and in-turn take this back to his guests in hopes of becoming a pioneer in promoting South African at an international level.

Keegan Terry is a Food and Beverage Supervisor who works at the Mount Nelson Hotel, where he is the main liaison between all Food and Beverage outlets within Belmond Mount Nelson’s Planet Bar and ensures the smooth running of his department.

Keegan believes that the wine industry is an integral feature within the Food and Beverage field, and he has developed a growing passion and insight into wine stewarding.

Working within the Mount Nelson Hotel, Keegan has had the amazing opportunity to work with and be exposed to the best wines South Africa has to offer and aspires to further his skills to become a sommelier who specialises in promoting South African wines to international guests as he has noticed through his experience at the Mount Nelson Hotel, the guest is often not exposed to the amazing range of wines produced in South Africa.  

In Keegan’s free time he not only keeps up to date with the local wine releases and develops but he also visits local vineyards and reads up on all the latest trends coming from the field.

NH The Lord Charles

Aspiring to carve a niche in the Hospitality Industry, Danielle is looking forward to taking part in the competition to further her wine knowledge and in turn, being able to share these experiences with her colleagues.

Her motto is that the Hospitality industry is not something you choose but it chooses you and that is exactly what happened to Danielle, as she started working as a waitron for a small wine farm in Stellenbosch, Nooitgedacht where she got her first taste of the industry. Shortly thereafter she started as an orientation trainee at NH The Lord Charles Hotel. 

Danielle is in her final year of her Hospitality Management. 

The food and beverage department is where Danielle’s heart lies. This is where she experienced her passion for food and wine and where she would go to the ends of the earth to ensure her guests had a phenomenal experience. Danielle started at the bottom polishing cutlery and cleaning glasses and has worked her way up to supervising an entire restaurant under the great leadership of Managers and the Food and Beverage Manager at NH the Lord Charles Hotel. 

The popular Wine & Dine evenings, where wine is showcased as the star of the event has introduced her to some of the most wonderful wines the industry has to offer. Listening to the winemakers speak of the respect and passion they have for the wine they produce is beautiful and makes tasting and experiencing the wine that much better.

Danielle has seen the opportunity in the market to educate our waitrons not only in foodservice but wine service as it is right on our doorstep. Being part of the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge is not an opportunity she will take lightly as she feels the competition is essential to ensure that the guests we serve on a daily basis can have a wine service experience as if they are in the cellar talking to the Winemaker. 

De Hoek Country Hotel 

Victor Mofokeng will tell you that the reason he is here as the De Hoek wine steward candidate is a simple love of good food and wine. However, the true story tells you there is a lot more to this energetic competitor.

He’s been hard at work learning his trade for 13 years already. He found a love for the wine and spirits side of the hospitality business early on and 11 years of those years have all been behind the bar. All of them at De Hoek Country Hotel! 

The experience and hard work have paid off and today, Victor is the head barman at De Hoek and now loves nothing better than to share his wisdom and experience with other up and coming, young barmen and wine stewards.

He has the experience, but Victor is also set on adding academic qualifications to this career. Recently, he completed a course at the Cape Wine Academy and passed with strong marks. Right now he is studying Level 2 WSET.

He is known for his energy and enthusiasm towards anything related to the food and beverage industry and loves picking the chef and his manager’s brain for pairings at any opportunity that presents itself.

Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani

Start your day with coffee, end your day with wine.

Dedicated to the discipline, art and love of fine beverages, Nhlakanipho Zondo, is putting his best foot forward discovering the joy and energy of coffee and wine.

The 27-year-old, from Cato Manor in Durban, is determined to expand his knowledge of South African and international wines in terms of region, viticulture and vinification, as well as basic knowledge of beers, ciders, spirits, water, coffee and tea.

“I am absolutely loving my journey in this industry where I get to explore this new world that I was once totally unfamiliar with. It has given me the opportunity to turn passion into a career,” says Zondo.

Raised in Port Shepstone in KwaZulu-Natal’s south coast, Zondo relocated to Durban to pursue a short training course as a waitron at Starline Training Centre in Durban.

He was then employed at several top Durban restaurants before landing a job at Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani hotel.

“I started off as a casual waiter during the December holidays in 2018. I worked hard, showed dedication and commitment and two months later was offered a full-time waitron position at Vigour & Verve Maharani and Grill Jichana restaurants,” he said.

Zondo was then exposed to the intricacies of wine as well as the art of coffee making.

“The hospitality industry has opened my eyes to a great variety of options and possibilities. I was always intrigued as there was so much on offer. My journey began by learning the basics of wine,” he explained.

Zondo has since not looked back. As time went by, his knowledge grew, as he assisted more and more guests make informed beverage choices.

“Dining is an experience and wine adds lustre to that experience, enhancing flavours if it is paired well. It gives me the greatest pleasure in helping guests have the best dining experience.”

Zondo says it took him about a year to understand the basics of wine adding that he continues to learn every day.

As a barista, Zondo spent nine months mastering the perfect cup of coffee.

“It takes patience, the best coffee bean and love to create the perfect cup. I challenge myself each day and maintain that drinking a cup of coffee can be likened to drinking a work of art,” says Nhlakanipho.

Ruth Marovatsanga
Ruth Marovatsanga

Peter John
Peter John

Amanda Moyakhe
Amanda Moyakhe

Devika Giga
Devika Giga

Grant Lodewyks
Grant Lodewyks

Keegan Terry
Keegan Terry

Danielle Fourie
Danielle Fourie

Victor Mofokeng
Victor Mofokeng

Nhlakanipho Zondo
Nhlakanipho Zondo

more news