THE TRUMAN SHOW went to the One&Only Reaching for Young Stars Awards, and were suitably impressed by the culinary creativity on show:
Fine dining lovers can sleep comfortably in the knowledge that the future holds endless treats for their taste buds. In fact, based on what we witnessed at The One&Only Reaching for Young Stars Awards, the young people who have chosen to dedicate themselves to a chef’s life intend to do more than simply emulate their idols. They intend to add their own unique flavour to the mix.
November marked the 8th consecutive year of the One&Only Reaching for Young Stars Awards hosted by the One&Only in Cape Town. For those who might not be familiar, this event showcases the skills and wills of some of the finest and most talented young students from various culinary academies, all vying for top honours as culinary artists of the year.
South African Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona is quoted as saying, at the 2018 Travel Trade Show in Germany in March this year, that tourism is vitally important to the South African economy and that the sector should be nurtured for sustained and inclusive growth. Given how important tourism is to Cape Town, events such as this within the hospitality industry ensure that young people starting their careers are exposed to what it takes to aim for excellence.
Young Stars Awards: Nurturing young talent
The One&Only Reaching for Young Stars is the brain child of the eloquent and humble Annette Kesler and the passionate and driven Chania Morritt-Smith, partners of Showcook – what a pair! Both believe that it is essential to build platforms that will provide opportunities that encourage hotels, restaurants and other members of the hospitality industry to nurture young talent and carry the banner of excellence further.
The activities started in August 2018 with the students participating in the Skills Exchange Development Programme, followed by various talks and demonstrations with top executive chefs, sommeliers, bakers, food authors and hospitality industry experts. This culminated in the Cook-Off held on 2 October. The winners were announced at a glamour awards function at the One&Only in Cape Town with the crème de la crème of the hospitality industry in attendance. The various tables were aptly named according to the academy and winery that they paired with and were tastefully decorated with bouquets of Cape florals that did not overwhelm the table settings.
The competition was broken down into the three broad categories of Chef, Beverage Services and Food and Wine Pairing, with various awards within each. The three-course meal comprised of alternating starters and mains created by the various academies whilst dessert … left us speechless and in awe of the talent and creativity of Samkelisiwe Sekese from the International Hotel School. Her Lancewood Coconut Yoghurt Semi Freddo filled with Mango Jam coated with Bitter Orange Nappage | Cocoa Nib Crunch | Cardamom Anglaise | Mango Jelly | Passion Fruit Gel | Honeycomb paired with a Spier Méthode Cap Classique Signature Brut 2015 made us wonder if we should just stare, drool, eat or simply cuddle it as a happy memory when we went to bed that night. We did all.
Winners to work abroad
The winner is given the opportunity to work at various exotic locations aboard; from the exquisite Winslow Tavern in Cape Cod to The One&Only The Palm and The One&Only The Mirage in Dubai – so much for just getting a set of serving spoons. Apart from the experiential prizes, there were also substantial prizes from various sponsors, in particular Dr Susanne Reuther of KitchenAid Africa who ensured that ALL students received enviable kitchenware from KitchenAid Africa accessories and more. This ensured that students were given a good start to building their own toolsets for their future endeavours.
So as we left this marvellous event, satiated by the delectable foods and wine, the euphoric experiences of being in the presence of unconditional giving and sharing by the founders of this brain child, Annette and Chania, the hosts, sponsors and industry experts at large, we felt a sense of humility and comfort that in these sometimes dark and foreboding times, it is possible to reach for the stars, and find them.
Kiru and Neil Truman are passionate about wine and food (as long as Kiru does not have to cook it). Apart from loving what goes down in their own backyard in the Western Cape, they have also been spotted sampling local offerings in Italy, Argentina, Uruguay, Thailand (there are a few nifty wine farms there) and soon New Zealand.