Durban Delivers - Good Food and Wine show surpasses all expectations

Words & Photos: Sheldon Reddy

Sheldon Reddy

One of South Africa’s most anticipated gourmet events, the Durban edition of the Good Food and Wine show, promised to once again whet the appetites of foodies while bringing together more entertainment, innovation, and celebrity chefs than ever before. A promise kept, as this year’s show saw culinary experts from around the world converge at the Durban Exhibition Centre from Thursday 8 to Sunday 11 August to celebrate all things food and wine.

The enduring appeal of celebrity chefs continued and appearing at the Durban show was the star of BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, James Martin, as well as Anjali Patak of the famous Patak Spice Family, London Cinnamon Club chef Vivek Singh, MasterChef SA winner Deena Naidoo, and the infamous Ms Cupcake.

Interactive theatres and hands-on cooking workshops lead by first-rate, internationally-renowned chefs were also on the cards for the 2013 festival. Anyone with a passion for food and wine would have done well to tear themselves away from MasterChef reruns, get off the couch, and go check out what was cooking in the show’s demo kitchens where MasterChef Deena Naidoo cooked up a storm.

Locally sourced foods and children’s nutrition are the leading trends in 2013, according to the US’s National Restaurant Association’s annual 'What’s hot 2013 chef' survey, and the Good Food & Wine Show is bang up-to-date with these global trends.

One of the most innovative attractions at the show was that of the Little Chefs Kitchen, sponsored by Woolworths. This kitchen allowed kids of various ages to participate in a unique and fun-filled culinary experience. Burgers were the order of the day, as the kids were taught the steps involved in making their own burger patties and helped along by students of the International Hotel School. Deena Naidoo commented on the kitchen saying, "It is a fantastic way to get the kids involved in the show, as compared to the common clowns and face painting. This way, they get to experience first-hand what the craze is all about … Who knows, maybe the next SA MasterChef is in this kitchen right now."

There were a number of other kitchens at the show, such as Specko Kitchens, which featured, amongst others, the Ultimate Curry-Off competition. This awe-inspiring challenge saw locals go head–to-head over the course of the weekend to win the title of Ultimate Curry-Off Champion. The kitchen was voted the most interactive, exciting, and popular theatre at the event. Specko Kitchens was headed up by TV personality Candice Moodley, of Eastern Mosaic, and Lotus FM producer Avashnee Vandiar. There were also tons of prizes up for grabs, which drew in eager visitors and allowed them to engage and interact with the chefs that featured in these kitchens. Specko Kitchens also played host to Executive Chef of the Oyster Box, Kevin Joseph, who showed visitors exactly why he is one of Durban’s number one culinary experts, as well as Lotus FM personality Salon Surjoo.

Another popular kitchen was the Woolworths Real Food Theatre, another interactive experience where visitors enjoyed a cooking lesson from their favourite celebrity chefs James Martin, Deena Naidoo, and Vivek Singh, amongst others. Visitors lined the bays of the theatre to get a glimpse of these flamboyant heroes of the kitchen, as they heated up the theatre over the course of the event.

The Brilliant Baking Kitchen pulled just as big of a crowd when the famous sweet-tooth of London stepped up to the plate to show Durban exactly why she is Ms Cupcake. Ms Cupcake is famous for her cupcakes, layer cakes, cookies, muffins, squares, doughnuts, savoury treats, and much, much more. Everything made is always 100% vegan and she also makes lots of products without wheat/gluten. Her show was therefore a huge hit amongst the vegans in the crowd, who expressed their love for her pastries. Ms Cupcake had this to say, "Everybody deserves great cake. It is my job to create indulgent and decadent cakes for you regardless of what you can and cannot eat."

Restaurant Palki came to the show with its delicious and creamy butter-chicken, which won the best-dish at the Taste of Durban event two weeks ago. Sunrise Café provided scrumptious Indian cuisine, such as hot chilli bites, vedhas, and rotis for visitors to indulge in. Durbalicious Flavours, kitted in their Chappies-inspired uniforms, provided tasty and mouth-watering corn dogs, an extremely rare site at local events.

Other stalls at the event featured some of the most decadent and divine pastries ever seen. With their vibrant colours, they were pretty hard to say no to. Pastries on show included macaroons, truffles, meringues, lamingtons, cheese cakes, fudges, toffees, and so many more.

The show was not only about food. The huge line up of wine estates ensured that the connoisseurs of fine wine were kept happy too. Estates such as Orange River Cellar and Vrede en Lust were by far the most popular wines at the show, as visitors were frequently seen crowding the stalls. Orange River Cellar boasted a wide range of wine covering everything from Rose to Chenin Blanc. Vrede en Lust stood out with its large, silver chandelier ice bucket, smothered with delicious, fresh strawberries, and funky stripped decor. Their Jess Dry Rosé 2012 might be labelled dry, but it’s one of the most fruit-forward, mouth-watering Rosés out there. Their Bordeaux blend flagship wine, Boet Erasmus 2010, is an ideal wine for winter drinking and proved to be a hit amongst wine lovers.

Inverroche Distillery had some of their best Fynbos Gins and Rum on display. Part of the stand included a replica of the distillery used to produce their flagship Fynbos Gins. This gave visitors a unique insight into what goes into producing such a fine drink. Bottega boasted an exquisite range of exclusive wines and bubblies at their stall. Bottega’s Prosecco wines are light-styled bubblies imported from Italy, and visitors were spoilt for choice with a selection that ranged from the Prosecco Gold, sold in a bottle coated in pure gold, to the Brut or Vino del ‘Amore, which has an aroma similar to rose petals (hence the name of love).

Apart from the great wines on show, there were several alcohol beverages available for tasting and purchase. Original Iced Cocktails’s famous Vuvuzela-styled-flute glasses were a common site at the event and the stall boasted beautiful cocktail mixes such as Pina Coladas, Margaritas, Strawberry Daiquiris, and many others. The Castle-lounge offered a massage with every Milk Stout purchased, allowing visitors to fully enjoy their journey through every Pour-Pause-Sip-Enjoy moment of the dark, rich, and creamy milk stout that filled their elongated glasses to the brim.

Beach Vodka drew visitors to their stands boasting vibrant colours to complement their refreshing summer-time cocktails. Jack Daniels offered visitors a free shot of Jack Daniels Honey, which is just as smooth as the name suggests. The girls at the Cruz Vodka stand drew in visitors with their bubbly personalities and warm smiles and offered free tasting of the Cruz Vintage Black Vodka, a true luxury, super premium, handcrafted vodka distilled four times and charcoal-filtered three times using the finest American grain. Magnum Crème’ Liquor, which is one of the healthier crème liquors, was extremely popular at the event. Visitors loved the contrast between the rugged, steel bottle and the smooth, creamy taste of the liquor inside.

Apart from alcoholic beverages, there were several coffee houses at the event. Jacobs' coffee offered guests some of their tastiest hot drinks to beat the chilled weather of the winter's evening. Gloria Jean provided visitors with their famous brands of coffee and designer cakes and pastries. Lavazza and Bob Marley Coffee also featured and were just as popular.

There were several miscellaneous stands at the event, such as the Incredible India stand with its striking, vibrant colours that provided a mesmerizing Indian experience to their visitors. This stand also played host to a surprise engagement, which took advantage of the romantic and enchanting atmosphere of the stand.

Bamix of Switzerland displayed the top of their range of electric blenders and mixers that also came with a hefty price tag. The Little Herb Garden had on display a sizzling range of habanero pepper sauces and chilli relishes, while Merchant Teas had their flavoured teas on display. Their unique, cone-shaped boxes of tea were a big hit amongst tea lovers, as the stand never saw a quiet moment throughout the event. Kenwood provided a display of their best cookware and coffee machines, which ranged from a few hundred to just over R15,000. A stand dedicated to cook books of the respective chefs at the event saw a lot of action particularly after the demos by the executive chefs.

South Africa’s national flower, the Protea, also found its way into the show with an entire stand dedicated to this majestic flower. AMG provided a display of their latest saloon, dressed in a beautiful deep blue with striking silver mag-wheels to complement the curves and stance of the beast resting within the confines of the engine bay. Coastland Hotel's stand was the epitome of class and sheer-beauty as they showed why they are one of Durban’s Premiere Hotels.

All in all, the Good Food and Wine show surpassed all expectations and blew the roof of the Durban Exhibition Centre with its decadent foods, fine wine, and star-studded chef line-up. Visitors were kept busy throughout the festival thanks to interactive theatres, wine and food tasting, and the long list of exhibitors featured at the show. The show proved to be the tastiest event on the South African foodie calendar so far.