Food|Wine|Design 2013 – the postmortem

Well the crim who tried to trouser R5000 cash at the close of FWD 2013 has been led away in tears and handcuffs by security, to the cheers of the runners, who said they would have been blamed for the theft.  As he was frog marched out, he was offering his captors another R5000 to let him go.  Welcome to Africa and roll on plastic as without sponsorship from financial institutions, events like FWD would not happen.  Sanlam’s Thursday night corporate jolly chowed hundreds of thousands of rand.  Which shows just how very much money there is in life insurance – ask Wendy Appelbaum. The event itself costs over three bar to stage.  So is it worth it?

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Most definitely, as how else would Johannesburg discover such treasures as the well hung Richard Bosman and the Train Spotting extras of Inverroche Distillery?  Certainly not from the Eat Out Awards last night, which, with the exception of David Higgs (recently semigrated from the Cape) and the excellent Jackie Cameron from KZN, produced a weirdly Western Cape Top Ten. Not that the winners weren’t worthy. Just that a bit more geographical/cultural diversity would have been nice.  

Which comes as no surprise, when you find out the judging panel (not so mysteriously anonymous until last night): “Eat Out editor and chief judge Abigail Donnelly, chef and lecturer Garth Stroebel; owner of Chefs Warehouse and Cooking School Liam Tomlin; and consultant and owner of Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants Andy Fenner. Celebrity chef and TV host Jenny Morris judged the ‘Best of’ portion of the awards.”

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Are these supposed to be national awards?  How can such a panel chose a Best Asian restaurant?  A Best Italian restaurant? Will we ever see a Best African restaurant? Best boerekos?  Come on Eat Out, pull the other one!  This is provincial parochialism writ large.  Is cooking knowledge the exclusive preserve of middle aged, middle class, white folks living in Cape Town? Are people experts on food because they’re fat?  A rule which seems to apply when it comes to writing about the stuff – me included.

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It’s high time for the rest of SA to call time out on these awards and start their own, based in the financial and economic heart of SA – Gauteng. Perhaps as part of Food|Wine|Design 2014.  How about it, Sanlam?

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On a more liquid note, ever wondered why whisky and not brandy is the aspirational drink of SA?  That Highland Park (above) can come all the way from Orkney, speaks volumes.

Five things that need to be fixed for FWD2014:

Wonky wooden floors, smoky hole of Calcutta food tent, air conditioning for sauna stalls, less aggressive security, runners who operate alone and not in tribes, put dividers in the plastic bins of glasses so they don’t keep falling over and breaking…

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FWD is 90% towards its goal of becoming the most important food, wine and design fair of the calendar. It’s streets ahead of the competition and miracle of miracles, it’s not a Cape Town affair.