Picture: Leon Lestrade

Food and beverages are slowly becoming an important element to people choosing to come to an event like the Vodacom Durban July. Sure, there’s a number of marquees, all promising to be better than the other; share a line-up of artists performing at more than a couple of tents and the after parties; and they all have various extra elements to attract people to choose their marquees. But there’s another element that become major and that’s the food and beverages served at these marquees.

For the longest time the VDJ has always been about the fashion, the performances, the celebrity spotting and of course the horses (for some). Food wasn’t a major drawcard. With a number of years of covering the VDJ under my belt, I have seen how it’s normally similar food being served- grilled meats, vegetables, starches, salads; the canapes and dessert are almost always ordinary. But a few years ago, marquees started stepping it up and putting as much effort into the food they served as they did the decor and other amenities offered by the marquee. It’s a welcomed development, especially since pay a couple of thousands for access to these marquees. The food has to be good. It’s something that Jack Daniel’s Boomtown’s David Airey confirms about the direction marquees are taking with the food and drinks that they offer their guests.

Sophisticated palates and a gravitation towards unique brands is revolutionising the alcohol world.

Says David: “We have a great focus on food at Boomtown this year and it’s important to us because we have seen just how many people have become interested in food beyond just eating. There’s a greater appreciation for it and that’s why we put in more effort this year to make sure our food is great.”

This year they will have a Southern themed menu- think Tennessee, Kentucky and the southern states of the USA. “Jack Daniels is from Tennessee and so we decided to pay homage to the whiskey by pairing it with food you would find in the South in the US.” That means short and spare rib, chicken, rich salads and more. “It’s a really authentic menu and it pairs very well with JDs.”

They are also going to have a restaurant setting, with communal space, where people, even strangers, can strike up a conversation.

And drinks? “For the first time, we have a number of mixologists on hand and we will be serving cocktails that were specially created for the Durban July. We are also going for a more artisanal, craft vibe, which is a huge trend at lifestyle events. Everything is sourced locally, organic and made.”

Glenlivet Jazz Town is another marquee that’s going to up the ante when it comes to the food served at the hospitality tent. “We are going to prepare food that pairs well with our whiskey,” says Peter Methven, Glenlivet’s ambassador. He was at the launch of their Chef’s Table at the Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga. Head Chef, Kevin Joseph, designed the menu.

Guests were served meals that were paired with their whiskey ranges. It’s the kind of food that guests can expect at the Jazz Town on at the VDJ.

Founders Reserve

Perfect for entrees, the whiskey has become one of the brand's most popular in South Africa. It has a distinct, smooth, fruity taste.

Beer braised beef short rib, apple purée, green cabbage and black current pearls

12YO Glenlivet

The starters were paired with the 12 Year Old, and the notes of vanilla and give the whisky its distinctive smoothness, which makes it a perfect choice to serve with a starter.

Orange infused crustaceans, fried calamari, cream bisque, caviar oil and salmon roe.

15YO Glenlivet

Smoked oyster ravioli with hazelnut brittle, apricot cream and micro herbs

18YO Glenlivet

Delice Valrhona- chocolate malted barley infused ice cream

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