Durban - Umhlanga's five-star Beverly Hills Hotel won the Distell Inter Hotel Challenge this evening with young commis chef Eugene Ramcharan walking away with the Best Chef title at a glittering gala awards dinner at the Cape Sun.
And he's not the only KZN chef to walk tall. Andile Ndlovu from Hartford House scored the Best Dessert award and veteran Shaun Munro, exec chef at the Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani, scored the Showcook Man of the Match award.
This year marks the fifth anniversary of this initiative. The challenge has been described as a defining event for the hospitality industry and the Oscars of the hotel world. The ceremony was attended by Distell MD Richard Rushton 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.
Here are the winners:
Best Chef: Eugene Ramcharan from the Beverly Hills.
Best Chef 1st Runner Up: Gizelle Els from The Lord Charles.
Best Chef 2nd Runner Up: Samkelo Hlophe from One&Only, Cape Town.
Most Promising Chef: 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
Ramcharan has been with the Beverly Hills since 2015 where he works as commis chef. His love for food and cooking started at an early age. He used to watch his mother and grandmother cooking and he was always in the kitchen helping with daily food preparation as well as cooking the meal of the day. School holidays were happily spent experimenting with dishes and recipes. “I like to cook simple well flavoured dishes,” he says. “I am particularly drawn to Italian cuisine.”
He hopes to travel and learn about different food cultures while his ultimate ambition is to own his own intimate Bistro in the future.
He wins a three-week visit to Dubai with The Marriott Ritz-Carlton Hotel and their flagship JW Marriott Marquis where he will experience fine dining and large scale catering.
Ndlovu began his career as a waiter at the Fairmont Zimbali, but it was the food side that really attracted him. Eventually he joined the cold kitchen as a commis chef and later moved to the hot station where he learned about Indian cuisine. “I must say that cooking is my great love,” he said. “I think this is because it makes people feel really good. I am very proud of what I have achieved so far.”
His big ambition is to one day find himself in charge of his own brigade.
Ndlovu also won the Scanpan Excellent Kitchen Practice award.
The Showcook award lies in the hand of the duo who were instrumental in setting up these awards - Annette Kesler and Chania Morritt-Smith. They chose Munro as Man of the Match because they felt he went the extra mile in every possible way. Throughout the competition, he pushed the boundaries and raised the bar. What particularly caught their attention was the way he played a strong mentoring role and was a source of inspiration to all his peers.
The Independent on Saturday