A Taste of Durban - A Feast for the Senses

Words & Photos: Sheldon Reddy

Expos & Shows
Food & Wine

The Pick 'n Pay Taste of Durban, in association with Orbit Sugar-free Chewing Gum, graced the grounds of SunCoast Casino and Entertainment world from 26 to 28 July 2013.


A Taste of Durban - A Feast for the Senses


Nine of Durban’s best restaurants fashioned special menus of starter-sized dishes for the occasion, including signature dishes created by featured chefs designed to reflect their philosophy and showcase seasonal and premium ingredients in an unbeatable alfresco gourmet setting.


“The 2013 edition of the event was a resounding success, with the number of visitors increasing by 25%, to over 12, 000 people over the three-day period,” says Taste Festival Director, Justine Drake.


Visitors enjoyed a feast for the senses, with top chefs demonstrating live in the Pick n Pay Chef’s Theatre. Visitors also learnt how to create and pair simple, stylish, and utterly delicious canapés with a wide range of fine wine to complement the balance of flavours in the Pick n Pay Wine and Canapé Experience. Boutique exhibitors, artisan producers, premium drink brands, and award-winning wineries provided a bounty of the country’s finest food and drink on offer, ensuring that you can sample and shop for a range of produce in the laid back atmosphere of a boutique food market. With world-class restaurants, chefs, and produce, Taste of Durban was a sumptuous, indulgent foodie day out.


DO IT NOW Magazine covered both sessions on Saturday, 27 July and I had the opportunity to taste dishes from 6 restaurants, choose a drink from 13 premium drink sponsors, and visit the Lindt Chocolate Studio. This added a whole new dimension to the events coverage because instead of merely documenting the lovely food and drink, I had an idea as to how the exotic ingredients were infused to bring about a burst of flavour and take my taste buds to food heaven.


Top chefs from around South Africa stepped up to show Durban what they were made of. Tjaart Walraven, from Food Template, headed up the Pick n Pay Canapé Experience and demonstrated just how easy it is to obtain a blend of seamless sophistication and creative flair from every-day items found in one's kitchen. Executive Chef Jackie Cameron of Hatford House showed off her award-winning talent at the Pick n Pay Fresh Living Chef’s Theatre. Other chefs included Themba Mngoma, Tony Kocke, Lucy Markewicz, Marcelle Roberts, and a few others nestled in the kitchens of the respective eateries’ stands.


Over three days, the show brought together foodies from across KwaZulu-Natal. The order of the day was an experience of a unique blend of taste and sensation in a celebration of alfresco gourmet dining. The event comprised of several 'to-do' experiences. These experiences were interactive, fun, and entertaining, while at the same time informative.


An exciting aspect was the interactive experience offered at the Pick n Pay Canapé Experience, where Chef Tjaart Walraven took folks of all ages under his wing and led them through several tutorials on bite-sized delectables while instilling in them the techniques of wine pairing. There was also an opportunity to take part in an interactive experience with Chef Walraven, who enticed participants with scrumptious recipes and exceptional wine pairing during their allocated 30-minute slot. In addition, Master Swiss Chocolatiers worked their magic in front of visitors creating delicious Lindor truffles and fresh pralines.


Also ranking high on the to-do list was the Consol Mixology Cocktail Experience. The Mixology show saw a cocktail guru take, those who were, up for the challenge, through a unique experience of cocktail mixing in specialised Consol glass jars using nothing but fresh fruits and alcohol. The Mixology tent was a huge hit amongst the visitors as they got to enjoy wielding and tossing alcohol and fruit together, to form a drink that tasted as good as it looked!


A Taste of Durban - A Feast for the Senses


The Castle Milk Stout Experience was an all-day, all-night chilled experience.


Unplugged Entertainment was on hand, creating a relaxed and jovial atmosphere to entice those lounging with an ice cold Castle Milk Stout.


Jack Daniels came to the show with a unique experience for visitors. Cards were dealt out to a few visitors at a time, each relating to a different Jack Daniels cocktail. Yes, a Jack Daniels cocktail! Each visitor was given two shots, a shot of Jack Daniels Honey and a shot of the cocktail their card specified. The aim was to allow one to gain an insight into how Jack Daniels Honey is mixed into the cocktail.


If there was ever a need to relax your feet for a few minutes, the East Coast Radio tent was the place to do it. Deon Govender made an appearance to provide a few chilled beats to keep the atmosphere mellow and the visitors relaxed.


Sevruga Sushi & Sparkling Lounge allowed for sushi-lovers to sit down and enjoy the restaurant’s premier selection of sushi. The lounge also had a wide variety of wine to cater for all preferences. The Sevruga team was nothing short of bubbly and friendly and made the experience even more enjoyable. Ice Tropez featured its 6.5% beautiful blend of rose wine and carbonated water infused with a peachy Fleur de Brugnon; an exceptional blend capable of alluring those who don’t usually enjoy a good rosé.


Independent Liquors stood out from the rest with its array of brightly coloured alcoholic drinks, and the team was just as colourful as the shots they served up, with their bright smiles and warm laughter.


Another colourful and exciting stand was the Original Cocktails stand. The team served up iced, pre-mixed cocktails in vuvuzela-shaped flutes, which were seen throughout the show. The most common cocktails served were strawberry daiquiris and pina coladas.


There were a number of little restaurants serving up their respective specialty dishes in starter-sized portions for visitors to enjoy before moving on. Restaurants included Little Havanna, The Beverly Hills Hotel, Café 1999, Freedom Café, BAR-BA-COA, ASARA, Hatford-House, Palki, and many more. Café 1999’s biggest seller was the Deep-fried Olives (they went through 45 kg of olives and 20 litres of home-made mayo), followed by the Triple Chocolate Brownies.


The wine stalls catered for the preferences of all the wine aficionados who visited the show. Wine houses inundated were Waterford Wine Estate, HPF 1855, and Orange River Cellars. There were several beer houses as well, such as Notties Draughts, Robson’s Craft Beer, and the Castle Lounge. Mangum provided something different with their Crème Liqueur in stylish steel bottles, which sold like hot cakes because of the liqueur’s smooth taste. The perfect way to wind down the evening could be achieved at Gloria Jean’s Specialty Coffees, were couples were in abundance and enjoying the last few moments of the evening show while local band Zaffa ended the evening off with some laid back tunes.


The ‘Orbit Best Dish’ award, went to Amaravathi Palki Indian Restaurant (Palki), for their Prawn & Chicken 65 with Palki Chilli Garlic Sauce. This was based on visitor votes collected over the weekend.


Freedom Café sold 1,000 portions of prawn cakes over the weekend. “It was a fantastic show for my first time out,” enthuses Chef Patron, Lucy Markewicz. “The vibe was phenomenal and I’ll definitely be back next year.” Another newcomer to this year’s show, Palki, used 190 kg of chicken fillets and 80 kg of prawns in total, for their biggest seller, the award-winning Chicken and Prawn 65 dish and the Butter Chicken Curry. Restaurant owner, Colleen Govender says,
“It was an incredible experience. We were so overwhelmed by the numbers that we had to bring in additional help over the weekend.”


Durbanites clearly enjoy a good piece of meat, with BAR-BA-COA and Butcher Boys going through a total of 1,080 ribs, 880 Argentinian burgers and 760 Avo Dijon Fillet Rolls, over the three days.


Back for a second year, Havana Grill at Suncoast and Little Havana’s Calamari Fritti with Wasabi Aioli, proved a winner with diners - 1,200 portions of the Calamari Fritti (approximately 120 kg) were consumed. A total of 2,720 dishes were sold over the three days, including the popular Pulled Beef Sandwich. Executive Chef, Louse Potgieter, noted the ‘overall enthusiasm and energy of the crowd’, as highlights of the festival. “The vibe was amazing!”


This unique collaboration of Durban’s finest eateries, chefs, and producers made the Taste of Durban a must-attend event on Durban’s food and social calendar.


The event was a success and provided visitors with the opportunity to interact with master chefs, wine connoisseurs, and other foodies while celebrating their love and passion for fine wine and decadent food in the wonderful, warm and sunny city of Durban.