Driven by a mandate to affect real change, Stellenbosch Wine Routes recently officially introduced Tasting Stellenbosch, which will be upskilling the community by providing hospitality training. This member organisation is chaired by well-known local chefs, Chef George Jardine and Deputy Chairman Chef Bertus Basson.
They announced a new executive last year, chaired by Michael Ratcliffe, and it adopted a policy focused on social development, which draws on the region’s many offerings to action change in the Winelands. As the umbrella association, Stellenbosch Wine Routes will coordinate this mandate with various tourism segments responsible to drive change in their particular community.
“Stellenbosch has long been a culinary leader on the South African gastronomic scene. Many decades of awards and recognition culminated in the 2018 Eat Out Awards recognizing that an extraordinary one in five of the top 30 restaurants in South Africa are based in the Stellenbosch Winelands. Their Wine & Food Tourism renaissance continues apace with exciting developments in planning for the past six months. There is immense skill in this sector and our chefs are looking forward to plough it back into the local communities to add to a long-term foundation for greatness,” said Ratcliffe.
Supporting this sentiment, founding Chairman Chef George Jardine said: “We are excited by the opportunity to pull this remarkably successful food-inspired community closer together under the banner of Tasting Stellenbosch – our home.”
Asked how they intend on achieving much needed change, Chef Bertus Basson added: “Building restaurant skills, work experience and kitchen and front-of-house confidence in our communities will provide an unprecedented competitive advantage for our industry.”
Apart from Jardine and Basson, the Executive Committee is backed by some of the country’s top culinary names: Winemaker George Dalla Cia, Chef Gregory Czarnecki, Sommelier Wayve Kolevsohn, Chef Michael Broughton, Hotelier Karine Van der Merwe and Chef Christophe Dehosse. The Exco envisage that Tasting Stellenbosch will have a minimum of 150 members by the end of 2019, representing a significant diversity.
Ratcliffe, speaking for the board, expressed pleasure in seeing the great food and wine pillars of Stellenbosch aligning themselves. “We are blessed with amazing tourism assets and we are pleased to see the food community uniting around a focused social development agenda. The Stellenbosch Wine Routes board takes pride in showing leadership as a Destination Marketing Organisation and providing capacity for resurgent Stellenbosch tourism.”