Seats are selling fast for the annual The Business of Wine & Food Tourism Conference, now in its third year. Set to take place at the Spier wine estate in Stellenbosch on 17 October, its impressive panel of local and international speakers will centre their respective topics on the theme of innovation.
“The Western Cape has a distinct advantage in Southern Africa. Not only does it feature breathtaking sea- and mountain-scapes, but a vibrant culinary and social scene that celebrates and reflects its very special environment,” says seasoned tourism specialist Margi Biggs, convenor of the conference.
“The wine and food scene here in the Cape, together with its interesting combination of people – tourists and locals from all levels of society – provide such a healthy environment for cultivating tourism, and now is the perfect time to explore the theme of innovation and its various facets and impact points. We encourage all those in the industry to attend the conference.”
“You’ll hear from South African innovation thought-leader, Peter Greenwall, who actively works on advancing ‘innovation IQ’. He is a successful author and entrepreneur – a natural educator with an innate ability to navigate through nonsense and clutter to create lightbulb moments in creativity.”
Greenwall explains: “I will be teaching attendees how to create a culture of innovation that permeates all aspects of their tourism-related businesses, and discuss the five stages of what we refer to the ‘innovation cycle’. In addition, I’ll also touch on topics such as how to capitalise on change and turn the fear of the unknown into a positive driving force to cultivate ongoing innovation and inventiveness, and outline steps on how to learn from failure and mistakes, as well as ways to innovate via social media.”
US-based big data wine specialist, Cathy Huyghe, is the headline speaker this year. This will be the first visit to South Africa for Huyghe, who is also a wine columnist for Forbes and who has written for the Harvard Business Review. Co-founder and CEO of Enolytics LLC, she consults globally on big data to wine companies, is a digital media specialist and has authored wine books.
“We are also thrilled to have the talented Wandile Mabaso, a young and internationally travelled Soweto-born, French-inspired chef, who is currently disrupting the culinary scene in Johannesburg, confirmed as speaker. He’s also known as South Africa’s French cuisine ambassador, having worked alongside many famous French chefs, like the legendary Alain Ducasse who holds an incredible 21 Michelin stars. Wandile was also mentored by the world-famous chef, Olivier Reginensi,” Biggs states.
This food artist trained in classical French cuisine in New York City following his culinary education in South Africa. He returned home in 2017 after almost 10 years spent abroad, with a vision to establish his own restaurant in Bryanston, Johannesburg. He’s done just so. Called ‘The SA Culinary Club’, it’s a first of its kind in Johannesburg and offers an experiential form of dining in a creative culinary space where contemporary fine dining is re-invented by combining elements of art, live music, food education and guest/chef interaction in a bare open kitchen. The cuisine is said to be “unique, daring, designed to evoke emotions and push boundaries but yet comforting to the body and soul”.
Biggs elaborates: “Wandile is passionate about sharing the skills he’d learned while working as chef across the globe, from the Mediterranean, to Miami, New York and Paris, as well as during his time back here in South Africa. Conference delegates can look forward to an energetic presentation from him. He’s sure to disrupt and challenge entrenched ideas so we can open our minds and allow for innovative thinking.”
Other speakers at this year’s conference include online story-teller Chris Joubert, and Spicer de Villiers, who owns A Single Thread, a boutique communications agency that is active in local wine; Dr Donovan Kirkwood, an ecologist and biodiversity conservation specialist; as well as chef and foraging specialist Kobus van der Merwe, who with his intensely local and seasonal focus has developed a cuisine that completely embodies and evokes the wild and dry West Coast.
Also to feature are Dr Serge Raemaekers, a specialist in marine biology who has developed a unique value chain bringing freshly caught fish to Cape Town’s top restaurants; Tim Harris, chief executive officer of Wesgro, who also sits on the board of Silicon Cape, Cape Town’s technology promotion initiative; and Marisah Nieuwoudt, who is the wine tourism manager for VinPro, the organisation that represents around 3 500 South African wine producers, cellars and industry stakeholders.
Go to http://wineandfood.co.za/programme-2018/ to view the full programme and learn more about the line-up of speakers.
Trainees and professionals working in the Cape’s wine, food and tourism industries are advised to register early to attend the conference. Early Bird registration is now open at a fee of R2 950 (excl. VAT) per delegate, and ends on 30 June. A fee of R4 400 (excl. VAT) per delegate will apply thereafter, while students only pay R1 750 (excl. VAT) per person. Special discount is available for SAACI, SATSA, SITE and Cape Town Tourism members.