Earlier this year, renowned foodie journalist, Annette Kessler, announced the eagerly anticipated second annual Cape Legends Inter Hotel Challenge, the hospitality industry’s ultimate food and wine pairing challenge, with the objective to provide an opportunity for trainees from ten of the country’s top hotels to compete against each other as up and coming chefs and sommeliers.
Newmark Hotels, Reserves & Lodges flagship hotel the Queen Victoria was amongst the list of nominees to compete in the finals, for the second year running. Nominated candidate Chef Marcelino Solomons, 21, has been with the Queen Victoria for three years and in the past 12 months has worked closely under the mentorship of Thaabiet Adams, who won third place in the inaugural 2013 Inter Hotel Challenge. Four months have passed since and in that time, where many hours have been spent testing menus in trial for the final day.
Eventually all convened at the Belmond Mount Nelson in Cape Town where each participant prepared their winning menus for the judges. Well-known members within the food and wine industry contributed towards the panel of judges, which was led by Paul Hartmann of South African Chefs Academy and Chris de Klerk of Cape Legends. The grand finale took place on Friday 25th July 2014, where the winners and runner-ups in each category were announced during a glamorous gala dinner event.
After a fantastic evening, the judges’ announcement confirmed Marcelino’s place as third overall out of 21 competing hotels, positioning him amongst other reputable hotels such as 54 on Bath and The Oyster Box. Marcelino prepared Pork loin stuffed with chorizo, citrus barley ragout and variations of pear for his main dish, and an orange parfait with roasted pineapple and poached plums, mango and cherry for dessert. The highlight however was his Foie gras brûlée with pistachio puree, berries and beets.
Queen Victoria Resident Manager, Mike Vroom, comments of Marcelino’s place in the final: “Marcelino’s dedication alongside his assistant, Phillip Nel, over the past four months has been nothing less than outstanding”. To add to this victory, the Queen Victoria team was voted up a winner in the ‘Team Award’, rated on their team involvement since the commencement of the 2014 IHC. “This once again shows the dedication and time that the team put into this prestigious competition. Well done to the Queen Victoria team, we are immensely proud of their achievements,” said Vroom.
Newmark Hotels, Reserves & Lodges, known for their professionalism across their portfolio of properties, also sponsored a total amount of R 15 000.00 towards cash prizes for the lucky prize-winners. “It is a Newmark philosophy to mentor and encourage our staff,” says Neil Markovitz, MD of Newmark Hotels, Reserves & Lodges. “We are very proud of Marcelino and his award as the ‘third best Chef’ in this the second Inter-hotel Challenge. The hospitality industry offers a huge amount of scope and potential to the youth of today, and it goes to show what passion and commitment can do … if you set your mind to it.”