Winners of 2023 Inter Hotel Challenge announced

by | Nov 29, 2023 | Article, News

“They’re smart, ambitious, and primed for success,” said Millicent Maroga, corporate affairs director for HEINEKEN Beverages, of the newest generation of Inter Hotel Challenge (IHC) winners. “It’s our view that when you show talent and determination, every effort should be made to help you get ahead,” she said regarding last night’s (28 November) gala event at which the national winners were announced. 

“It’s a win-win all round. The challenge is structured to fast-track training in hotel and restaurant services. That raises hospitality standards, expands job creation, and promotes economic inclusion. It’s an opportunity for all the sponsors to cultivate brand ambassadors and it also helps South Africa to offer local and international tourists a world-class experience, enhancing the country’s competitiveness as a foremost travel destination.”

HEINEKEN Beverages is the lead sponsor of the annual national competition that identifies potential hospitality talent and then provides preparatory training and mentorship for all participants.

Among the other IHC sponsors are the National Youth Development Agency, Lancewood, KitchenAid, The Diamond Works Institute and Avanti Coffee. For cheffing competitors using seafood, it was mandatory to choose from WWF/SASSI-approved options.

This year, a total of 26 hotel chains and boutique establishments in the major metropoles and other top tourist destinations put forward their best and brightest for the challenge. As a condition of entry, they all had to attend workshops in their respective fields, presented in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban by leading experts.

Participants then competed across a variety of hotel and restaurant services categories, from wine stewards and mixologists to chefs and pastry chefs, bakers, baristas, concierges and more.  The judges, all seasoned professionals, and many of whom have been IHC judges for several years, were unanimous in their praise of the standard of entries this year.

Said Chania Morritt-Smith, co-founder of the IHC in 2012: “Across the board, standards have continued to rise year after year.”

This year’s biggest prizes were awarded to the IHC’s top wine steward, chef and pastry chef. They have all won travel opportunities outside South Africa.

The 2023 IHC Wine Steward of the Year is Nkanyiso Zikhali of the KwaZulu-Natal boutique hotel, The Oyster Box. The one-time waiter and specialty wine shop assistant will be flying to Amsterdam, for a whirlwind exposure to the city’s fine dining milieu and wine retailing. He will be joining Margot Janse’s acclaimed SAAM restaurant, exploring the culture of the city, visiting museums and learning more about the HEINEKEN brand. “The Netherlands is a key source of international tourists for our country. What better way than to experience how they pair their wine and food at home and learn about the wines to which they exposed. That will give Nkanyiso valuable context in building his career,” said Maroga.

Nkanyiso Zikhali Inter Hotel Challenge Wine Steward of the Year 2023, The Oyster Box

His prize also includes bursaries from the Sommeliers’ Academy and South African Sommeliers Association (SASA).

Cornelius Suthse of the Sun City Convention Centre took the title of Chef of the Year. Currently a commis chef, he hopes to see his career trajectory accelerated by his three-week internship at Swakopmund’s upmarket Strand Hotel, that is a popular Namibian tourist spot.

Cornelius Suths, Chef of the Year 2023, Sun City Convention Centre

Phathiswa Plaatjie of The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, along Cape Town’s Atlantic seaboard, is a pastry chef de partie. Her prize includes three weeks at Château de La Creuzette in Boussac, France.

Phathiswa Plaatjie, Lancewood Pastry Chef of the Year 2023, The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa

The Most Up & Coming Wine Steward and winner of The Wonga Award, was Londeka Mkhize of Durban’s Beverly Hills Hotel, who earned an International Hotel School online bursary worth R30 000.

Londeka Mkhize, Beverly Hills

Wasseem Carrim, CEO of the National Youth Development Agency, said tourism was a critical growth engine of the South African economy. “It provides quality and meaningful opportunities for young people, which is why we support the challenge with such pride.”

Full list of winners:


  1. Nkanyiso Zikhali (The Oyster Box)
  2. Lucian Hendricks (Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel, Cape Town)
  3. Ashley Klassen (Queen Victoria Hotel)

MOST PROMISING WINE STEWARD: Njabulo Prince Zondo (InterContinental Johannesburg O.R. Tambo)

MOST UP & COMING WINE STEWARD ‘THE WONGA AWARD’: Londeka Mkhize (Beverly Hills Hotel)

EXQUISITE SERVICE: Sinalo Yanga Ngubo (54 on Bath)

BEST COCKTAIL (see recipes below): 

  1. Nkanyiso Zikhali (The Oyster Box)
  2. Lucian Hendricks (Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel, Cape Town)
  3. Ashley Klassen (Queen Victoria Hotel)

ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE: Nadia Sibanda (Ivory Manor Boutique Hotel)

Cape Wine Academy top performers

Lucian Hendricks (Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel, Cape Town) 100%

Nadia Sibanda (Ivory Manor Boutique Hotel) 97%

Wandile Mpakumupaku (The President Hotel) 95%

Sibusiso Khumalo (Durban ICC) 90%
Njabulo Prince Zondo (InterContinental Johannesburg O.R. Tambo) 87%

Sommeliers’ Academy top performers

Ashley Klassen (Queen Victoria Hotel) 94,83%

Sibusiso Khumalo (Durban ICC) 94,83%

Nadia Sibanda (Ivory Manor Boutique Hotel) 93,1%

Siyanda Craig Mthethwa (Southern Sun The Edward) 91,38%

Sinalo Yanga Ngubo (54 on Bath) 89,66%


  1. Cornelius Suthse (Sun City Convention Centre)
  2. Keelyn Scheepers (Southern Sun Cape Sun)
  3. Huwitt Strydom (Protea Hotel by Marriott Cape Town Waterfront Breakwater Lodge)


Shantel Ndlovu (The Silo Hotel)


Hot Chef Cornelius Suthse (Sun City Convention Centre)

Pastry Chef Thando Mahlekelele (Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani)


  1. Phathiswa Plaatjie (The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa)
  2. Flora Lebogang Takai (Sun City Convention Centre)
  3. Nokubonga Dladla (Beverly Hills Hotel)


Lingelihle Tshemese (Arabella Hotel, Golf & Spa)


  1. Senzo Khumalo (The Oyster Box)
  2. Wiseman Manshele (Durban ICC)
  3. Wandile Shange (Southern Sun The Cullinan)


Lindiwe Masango (Toadbury Hall Country Hotel)


  1. Vusumzi Sithole (54 on Bath)
  2. Mpoe Charles Maboshigo (Ivory Manor Boutique Hotel)
  3. Vuyo Kenneth Zuma (Sun City Convention Centre)


  1. Pumla Hanise (Southern Sun Arabella Hotel, Golf & Spa)
  2. Siyabonga Kunene (The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa)
  3. Nandipha Msindeli (Southern Sun The Cullinan)


  1. Samkelisiwe Nyandu (Oyster Box Hotel)
  2. Sfundo Mhlongo (Beverly Hills Hotel)
  3. Tracy Colbeck (Durban ICC)



Dishes using Lancewood, Bio-Wheat, Rio Largo Olive Oil, Rio Largo Lemon-infused Olive Oil, LemonGold with WWF-SASSI green list fish, Fish4Africa, Pick n Pay and Lurpak

Starter: Chef Keelyn Scheepers & wine steward Ruaan van Helden (Southern Sun Cape Sun)

​​Fish4Africa WWF-SASSI green list Cape yellowtail tartare | avocado salsa | charcoal tuille | dill cream cheese | Nederburg Double Barrel Reserve gluhwein jelly & herb oil

~ Nederburg The Winemasters Chardonnay 2022

Main: Chef Itumeleng John Mogale & wine steward Richard Mannafela (Sun City Hotel)

Potato and courgette ravioli | capsicum sauce | Rio Largo basil oil | Lancewood sour cream | beetroot dust | micro greens

~ Nederburg The Winemasters Chardonnay 2022

Dessert: Pastry chef Nokubonga Dladla & wine steward Londeka Mkhize (Beverly Hills Hotel)

Lancewood coconut mousse | LemonGold curd | passion fruit compote | coconut tuile | caramelised Italian meringue | lemon chantilly cream | pineapple

~ Pongrácz Demi Sec MCC

WWF-SA WWF-SASSI Environment Awareness Award

The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa


Christo Pretorius (The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa)


Jaco Truter (Sun City Convention Centre)


  1. Pleasure Shaku (InterContinental Johannesburg O.R. Tambo)
  2. Robyn Ann Dyer (The Oyster Collection) & Thokozile Gazi (The Lagoon Beach Hotel)
  3. Mkuseli Innocent Vanqa (TAJ Cape Town)

THE KITCHENAID AFRICA BEST TEAM AWARD (presented by Dr Susanne Reuther of KitchenAid Africa):

Sun City Convention Centre Hotel, Sun City Resort

General manager: Nombuso Buthelezi

Executive chef:  Jaco Truter

Food & beverage manager: Patrick Carty

Kitchen coordinator: Thabang Mogole

Executive assistant: Tshepiso Melato

Wine steward: Christopher Tshepo Nawe

Chef: Cornelius Suthse

Pastry chef: Flora Lebogang Takai

Baker: Letta Kgothatso Sebokoane

Barista: Vuyo Kenneth Zuma


Madeleine Roux (54 On Bath, Southern Sun)


Wine and spirit service: Sandy Harper (CWM) and Jean Vincent Ridon (sommelier)

Wine and food pairing: Aubrey Ngcungama, Deon Roets, Wanda Cronje (CWM), Germain Lehodey, Kristina Beuthner, Karen Bloom (CWM) and Mark O’Flaherty

Food/cheffing skills: Hugh von Zahn, Jocelyn Meyers-Adams, Fatima Stanley and Elsu Gericke

Kitchen skills: Julietta e Silva Overmeyer, Marlon de Freitas, Candice Adams, Ukhonaye Mconi, Nandile Bongekile Mtshaha and Sharon Visagie

Barista skills: Oz Davids, Johandré Delport, Caroline Ncube, Ree Moya, Malusi Ngwane, Wayne Abrahams, Paddington Chivare and Shaakira Mohamed

Concierge skills: Horst Frehse, Jeff Rosenberg, Lorna Gourlay, Mike Waller, Tarryn Tomlinson and John de Canha

Cocktail recipes: 


Presented by Nkanyiso Zikhali, The Oyster Box

37,5 ml Amarula Cream

25 ml Cape to Rio Cane

25 ml salted caramel purée

25 ml caramelized banana purée

25 ml pouring cream

Garnish: Banana slices, skewered

Glass: Coupe

Pour Amarula, cane, salted caramel and banana purée into a cocktail shaker with cream over ice and shake well to combine. If you’d like to add a chocolate drizzle, carefully pour a thin stream of chocolate syrup around the inside top of your pre chilled glass. Strain, pour into cocktail glass, garnish with brûléed banana slices and enjoy!


Presented by Lucian Hendricks, Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel, Cape Town

50 ml Amarula Cream

20 ml Frangelico Liqueur

15 ml Kahlua Liqueur

15 ml Avanti Espresso shot

Garnish: Dark chocolate and gold dust disk

Glass: Coupe

Chill the serving glass before starting the cocktail. Add all ingredients to a shaker that is half-filled with ice and shake for 10-12 seconds before straining it into the serving glass. Add garnish and enjoy as an aperitif or a digestive cocktail.

HEINECRUZ (pronounced Heine-NEH-Cruz)

Presented by Ashley Klassen, Queen Victoria Hotel & Manor House Waterfront

50 ml Cruz Vintage Black Vodka

20 ml fresh squeezed LemonGold juice

30 ml homemade garden lemon geranium simple syrup

1 g green food colourant

30 ml egg white

Garnish: Edible red star, lime zest

Glass: Coupe

Fill the glass with ice to serve chilled. Add all ingredients to a shaker. Top off shaker with lots of ice. Close and short hard shake. Empty serving glass of ice and excess water. Single strain into glass. Lightly rim glass with lime and add star.


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