SA food and wine industry mourns the death of Michael Olivier

The late Michael Olivier. Picture: Wine Concepts X

The late Michael Olivier. Picture: Wine Concepts X

Published Jan 2, 2024


The local food and wine industry is mourning the death of Michael Olivier, one of South Africa’s greatest wine and food commentators, who died on the evening of Friday, December 29.

Olivier was also a well-known South African restaurateur and author.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the gentle passing of our beloved Michael Olivier on the evening of Friday, 29th December. We thank you all for your support during this impossible time. May his soul rest in peace”, the family said in an Instagram post.

His website reads: “As a young aspiring chef, Michael laid a solid foundation for his career at the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in London.

“Over the next 30 years, he had a series of high-profile hospitality management posts, was the public relations manager for Boschendal, and ran three successful restaurants in the Cape, one of which, Parks, featured in the national top 10 restaurants.

“A lifetime devoted to the promotion and appreciation of the South African wine and food industry has earned him many accolades, including the Lannice Snyman Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 Eat Out Awards.”

In a previous interview with Independent Media, he revealed that he loved his cookery books almost as much as he loved cooking. Olivier said he did not only read in the kitchen, but always kept a book or two on his bedside table and when he was looking for a comforting read of the foodie variety, he turned to authors such as Gary Jones or Stephanie Alexander.

Friends, along with industry colleagues, paid tribute to him after the news of his passing broke.

Bibby’s Kitchen wrote: “Oh Maddy, what devastating news. My heart goes out to you and the family. Michael will remain irreplaceable in the world of food and wine. A gentleman through and through, with the kindest and most generous spirit. I’ll never forget Michael’s mentoring and guidance when I first started on my food journey. All heart, he was. Sending you love and strength in this sad time.”

Food blogger Sam Linsell wrote: “I still can't believe that Michael is gone. He will be remembered by so many forever. It was an honour and a privilege to have known him and been mentored by him. Some people lead extraordinary lives that leave a huge impact. He was one of those people. There is a gaping hole in our food and wine community. May his kind and generous soul rest in eternal peace.”

Portuguese American food writer David Leite wrote: “Oh no. So terribly sad. My heart goes out to his family.”

A celebration of Olivier's life is planned at Clara’s Barn Restaurant in Vergenoegd Löw Wine Estate in the Cape Winelands on Sunday, January 7 at 9.30am.

The public are invited to attend and are requested to bring a plate of food and a bottle of wine to share to raise a final glass to Olivier. To RSVP, contact [email protected].