Italian women know how to cook. Living proof of this is Nadia Santini! Having just been named the 2013 Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef, as part of the prestigious World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards – she puts female celebrity chefs and cookbook authors like Nigella, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Gail Simmons to shame.
The Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef award acknowledges and celebrates the work of an exceptional female chef whose cooking is received with excitement by the world’s toughest critics. The award is decided by votes from 900 international leaders in the restaurant industry who make up the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy.
The award is inspired by the achievements of Madame Clicquot, who set the standard for women in business over 200 years ago. The winner must embody Madame Clicquot’s characteristics of innovation, determination, and creativity.
As Aymeric Sancerre, Veuve Clicquot’s Director of International Communications, explained:
Madame Clicquot was a woman who two centuries ago revolutionised Champagne, with her extraordinary stamina, her thirst for innovation and her quest for ultimate quality. Nadia Santini represents exactly these values in gastronomy today and I am proud that our name and rich history is associated to such a wonderful personality.”
There’s no doubt about it; Nadia Santini thoroughly embodies Madame Clicquot’s traits of innovation, determination, and creativity. Santini, who runs the kitchen of her family’s restaurant Dal Pescatore in Mantova, was the first woman to earn three Michelin stars in 1996, and she’s also held on to them ever since.
An enriching culinary experience
Santini married into a family obsessed with the restaurant business, and the fact that she’d never cooked in a professional kitchen before 1974 didn’t hold her back for a second. Santini combined skills learned through her food chemistry schooling, with training imparted by her husband’s grandmother and works, to this very day, at the restaurant originally founded in 1925 by her husband’s family.
She works with her husband Antonio, who takes care of the front-of-house team and their sons Alberto and Giovanni. Santini and her family label their cuisine as being full of character and charm; courteous, peaceful, a constant journey of exploration and discovery.
Ultimately, she wishes to provide each diner with an enriching culinary experience. Her cooking philosophy is all about keeping it intimate and keeping it simple. She says:
I think it is impossible…to run a kitchen that serves 100 people. I can’t give my heart to a dish if I am cooking for more than 30.”
The world’s 50 best restaurants
When she heard she’d won, Santini declared:
I am very happy and honoured to receive this important recognition. For me, it is for all ‘Dal Pescatore’, for my family who work with me, my husband Antonio, my extraordinary sons Giovanni who runs the kitchen with me and Alberto who runs the room and takes care of the wine, for Antonio’s mother who gave me many secrets and Valentina, Giovanni’s wife who is also very active in restaurant.”
The restaurant serves traditional Italian fare with a modern twist – though the house menu changes seasonally, it also keeps to its signature dishes. Pumpkin parcels, tiny meat ravioli in broth, herb omelette, chargrilled eel and tortellini stuffed with pumpkin, amaretto, Parmesan, and mostarda, are just some of the favourites that are served.
In the past 10 years, Dal Pescatore has appeared eight times on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Previous winners of the Veuve Cliquot World’s Best Female Chef include: Elena Arzak, of San Sebastian institution, and Arzak and Anne-Sophie Pic, of Maison Pic in Valence, France, who was the inaugural winner of the award.
Best female chef
Delighted that Santini should be recognised, Pic comments:
I have a great admiration for Nadia Santini. I appreciate her so much for her humility and her generosity. She is a role-model. I have identified myself tremendously with her: with her simplicity, her values, her honesty and emotional sensitivity.”
Natalie Brown studied Hotel, Food and Beverage Management at The International Hotel School (IHS) and graduated in 2010. At the age of 24, this Durban girl has visited over 150 countries while working on a cruise ship. Natalie shares her insight into Seabourn life…
What have you learnt since leaving IHS?
To an extent, the foundation was definitely laid during my studies – the basic knowledge and understanding. Every operation runs differently and I have had to learn how to apply the knowledge I have and adapt it to different systems and procedures. I have also learnt that no matter how much paperwork you have behind your name in this industry, your experience speaks volumes for you, which is what I’m focusing on now.
AMAZING!!! Arriving at my first destination, I was such a tourist, taking photos of everything. We were in the Caribbean, on one of the exclusive beaches where the guests have a beach BBQ. The smell of food cooking, sunshine and drinking out of coconuts while sitting in the warm ocean was one of the best days I have had while I have been onboard.
You don’t realise just how much the world has to offer until you set foot on beaches like Bora Bora or walk the streets of Hong Kong, spend an overnight along the wharf in Australia, and see sunsets in Turkey. I have a few favourites: New Zealand, Bora Bora, Cadiz in Spain, and Barcelona. Sometimes you are on the same itinerary for a few months which can be limiting but then again, you become like a local in the ports that you stop at and get to know the ins and outs of the city.
Is the work quite challenging?
It is a tough adjustment in the beginning. You’re on your own, and you have to learn to sink or swim in a very short space of time. The demands of the guests and maintaining a constant standard of service can be challenging. When you’re at home and land based, work is work and you leave home behind you, but on the ship, both are so closely entwined that you have to learn to leave your emotions in your cabin and focus at work because it is very easy to bring those feelings to the office.
Every department has their own definition of hard and demanding but it is equally as tiring. In housekeeping, it is physically tiring and you work against the clock to get finished. As an Assistant, it was a combination of mentally challenging and physical because you’re still expected to be on the floor. In Guest Services I have found that it is mentally and emotionally stressful. You have the phones going, e-mails coming in and out, your normal routine admin to take care of as well as upset guests venting at you because we’re normally the first point of contact for them when they want to make a complaint.
How easy was it to make friends?
If you’re open minded and accept that different people will have different ways of living and working, then it is very easy to get along. You need to adjust, but it’s the mixture nationalities that makes the ‘ship life’ that much more fun!
The travelling is definitely a high point but the people you work with and meet are very special. You become like a family onboard, you laugh together, cry together and share memories with each other that will always be treasured. Your crew members make the majority of your contract fun, going ashore together and the friendships you make all the hard work so worth it.
What do people need to know when considering cruise ship work?
Be ready to leave at the drop of a hat the first time you get called to join the ship. Buy the most comfortable shoes you can find and don’t worry too much about the price. No amount of pain or blisters is worth a cheap pair of shoes! Pack lightly because you are going to double your wardrobe onboard.
Be prepared to work long hours and to be on your feet for a large amount of your day. The hard work you put in does pay off and there will be days when you wonder why you’re in this industry but the fulfillment of the guest satisfaction wins every time.
You need a lot of patience, perseverance, and be prepared to work hard to go above and beyond the guest’s expectations. You will also need to be flexible and remember that while you get to travel, you’re here to work and that might mean sacrificing shore time. Being willing to learn is important and even when you make mistakes, realise that it will only help you better yourself in the future.
What does the future hold for you?
Hopefully I will have some stripes on my shoulders before I leave the ships. I would like to become a Crew Purser but that does take a few years to climb the ladder. I would like to be part of a chain of hotels or cruise liners in the future and run the operations side of things and still get to travel to the different properties or ships. I think it would be my dream to work for myself and have my own name on the entrance door.
What’s the best advice you can give?
Live for today, don’t worry about the things that have happened and you cannot change – live and learn. Make every experience count. In front of every door of opportunity is someone that has helped make that door easier to open – don’t forget who they are because when you are successful and where you want to be in life, they were the ones that helped you get to where you are.
Feb. 14, 2013 – Kingston Teamwork and return on investment are concepts Queen’s full-time MBA students understand all too well. When the Class of 2013 was looking for a charity to support, they employed some of the tools they’ve learned in the program to select Right To Play as its charity of choice.
“Right To Play was a great fit,” explains Mitch Gudgeon, the initiative’s head chair. “Its focus on teamwork, sports and play aligns with the Queen’s MBA team-based approach. We understand the benefits and values children learn when they’re put in an environment that facilitates play. We were also impressed with Right To Play’s low administration costs (15% versus up to 60% compared to other charities).”
With the due diligence phase complete, a 17-member organizing committee kicked into action. First up was a combo Kingston Frontenacs hockey game and disco skating night at the K-Rock Centre on Feb. 1. The event raised $1,200 (thanks to the Frontenacs’ contribution of half of each ticket’s price) and brought out 120 students, faculty and staff. By exercising their finely honed organizational, marketing and communications skills, the committee pulled out all the stops for the Gala held on Feb. 9 at the Ambassador Conference Resort Hotel. Keynote speaker Perdita Felicien, a member of Canada’s Olympic track and field team, gave a powerful speech that brought the crowd of 130 to their feet. “Your darkest hour does not define you: Rebuild!” and “Surround yourself with excellence” were just two of her inspirational messages.
A silent auction comprised of items donated by members of the QSB and local Kingston community raised nearly $2,000, bringing the overall total to $10,000 to benefit Right To Play. Sponsors and donors included Continental Corp, Molson Canadian, Gananoque Brewing Co., Pelee Island Winery and Vineland Estate Winery.
“This was a tremendous experience for all who got involved,” says co-chair Lindsey Lachance. “We learned a lot in the process, but the most important outcome will be helping spread the joy of play and the many values that come with it to children around the world.”
“We’re hoping that next year’s class will pick up the baton and run with this so that our philanthropic initiative will become a legacy project that makes a difference for years to come,” says co-chair David Sinkinson.
— admin @ 12:30 pm
The World Travel Awards are the Oscars of the Travel and Tourism, and Hospitality Industries, recognising and celebrating the very best the industries have to offer.
Here’s a round-up of the winners…
Air and Rail
South African Airways (SAA) – South Africa’s national carrier is one of the oldest airlines in the world, with flights to more than 700 destinations around the world. Despite ongoing financial troubles, it scooped two awards, Africa’s Leading Airline and Africa’s Leading Airline, Economy
1Time – Whilst trading under the protection of business rescue, the budget airline worked hard to turn itself around operationally and financially. Alas, it was not to be and the airline filed for liquidation in early November 2012. A small victory, though, for 1Time in the form of the award for Africa’s Leading Low-Cost Airline.
OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg – One of the 100 busiest airports in the world and Africa’s busiest airport – handling some 17 million passengers a year – OR Tambo is also officially Africa’s Leading Airport.
The Blue Train – a luxury five-star hotel on wheels, the Blue Train is the epitome of elegant travel, where guests can sit back and take in the scenic splendour of South Africa, whilst wining and dining. It was named Africa’s Leading Luxury Train.
Travel agencies and Tour companies
Travel with Flair – offers customer-focused total quality travel management programmes for organisations, with a strong focus on corporate travel and film and production travel. They won the awards for Africa’s Leading Business Travel Agency and Africa’s Leading Travel Management Company.
Flightsite.co.za – is an innovative online portal for South Africans to make local or international travel arrangements, by accessing the widest choice of flights, accommodation and car hire available, at the best possible prices. Flightsite.co.za is also Africa’s Leading Online Travel Company.
Club Travel – strives to offer customers a unique combination of best price and service and to develop long-term relationships with them. This philosophy has earned them the title of Africa’s Leading Travel Agency.
Fish Eagle Safaris – This Cape Town-based tour company specialises in tours throughout Southern and East Africa. In addition to personalized service, they have a particular interest in promoting responsible and ethical tourism. This refreshing approach wins them Africa’s Responsible Tourism Award.
Surf and Safari
Cape Town – boasts no less than 17 Blue Flag beaches. High standards of beach management, safety and security and water quality earn them the distinction of being Africa’s Leading Beach Destination.
Thanda Private Game Reserve – is situated in Northern Zululand, close to the coast. It offers the Big Five Safari Experience, along with a sampling of traditional Zulu Culture, fine dining and a superb wellness spa. Thanda Game Reserve is Africa’s Leading Luxury Game Reserve.
Shamwari Game Reserve – in the Eastern Cape, not only provides guests with a magnificent African Safari experience – for which it wins the award for Africa’s Leading Safari Lodge – but also has a strong focus on conservation and education. For these efforts Shamwari wins the award for Africa’s Leading Conservation Company.
The Phantom Forest Eco-Reserve – is a magical spot just outside Knysna on the Garden Route, on the Southern Cape Coast. The reserve contains a unique combination of three biospheres – Afromontane forest, fynbos and estuarine wetland – which you can enjoy from the comfort of your tree suite. Here, the emphasis is on sustainable development and minimising human impact; which earns the Phantom Forest Eco-Reserve the title of Africa’s Leading Green Hotel.
Town and Country
The Regent – consisting of luxury apartments and triple-story penthouses, The Regent in Morningside, Johannesburg is the ultimate in glitzy, glamourous urban lifestyle. In fact, it’s Africa’s Leading Apartment Hotel.
The Sandton Sun – linked to both the Sandton Convention Centre and Sandton City shopping centre, and within a stone’s throw of many of the city’s finest cafés, restaurants, boutiques and businesses, the Sandton Sun combines the best of business and leisure travel, making it Africa’s Leading City Hotel and Africa’s Leading Business Hotel.
No. 5 Boutique Art Hotel – in the Friendly City, Port Elizabeth, offers luxury boutique accommodation, complemented by fine dining and impeccable service…all of this a mere 100 metres from the beach. No wonder it is Africa’s Leading Townhouse Hotel!
Saxon Boutique Hotel, Villas and Spa – located in the tranquil, leafy Johannesburg suburb of Sandhurst, the Saxon is far enough from the busy city to be a retreat, yet close enough for the business traveller. It scoops two awards; one for Africa’s Leading Boutique Hotel and one for Africa’s Leading Suite for the unsurpassed luxury and elegance of its Nelson Mandela Platinum Suite.
Ellerman House and Villa – in exclusive Bantry Bay, Cape Town, offers unparalleled luxury and opulence. It’s the perfect base from which to explore all that the exciting city of Cape Town has to offer – cafés, bars, restaurants, museums, galleries, wineries, shops, beaches, wild spaces and more. It earns the title Africa’s Leading Luxury Villa.
Arabella Hotel & Spa – Just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town, in the Kogelberg Mountains, near Kleinmond, Hermanus, this five-star resort also offers access to the beautiful Bot River Lagoon. Here, you can go hiking, horse riding, golfing, relax at the spa or simply read a good book at the poolside. The Arabella is Africa’s Leading Spa Resort.
Legend Golf & Safari Resort – situated within the Entabeni Safari Conservancy in the picturesque Waterberg region of Limpopo Province, the resort consists of four and five star safari lodges built around a championship golf course. There’s also a luxury wellness centre and conference facility.
Sun City – not only South Africa’s favourite resort, but also officially Africa’s Leading Family Resort, Sun City offers guests everything they could possibly imagine and more…safari, sun, shopping and even an inland beach!
The Palace of the Lost City – within the Sun City Resort, this extraordinary luxury hotel is literally a fairytale African palace. Guests get lost in the myth and mystery of their spectacular surroundings, while enjoying outstanding service, plush rooms and fine dining. It’s a little bit of outlandish Las Vegas in South Africa – which is why it’s Africa’s Leading Casino Resort.
Zimbali Coastal Resort – offers discerning guests a warm, subtropical climate, sandy beaches, five-star country club and two world-class hotels, the Fairmont Zimbali Lodge and Fairmont Zimbali Resort. This stunning resort wins the award for Africa’s Leading Tourism Development Project.
The International Convention Centre (ICC), Durban – centrally situated and offering state-of-the-art facilities, there’s no better place to host a conference…which is why the ICC is Africa’s Leading Meetings and Conference Centre.
The Port of Durban – is Africa’s busiest container port, operating around the clock, every single day of the year. It’s been awarded the title of Africa’s Leading Port.
The International Hotel School is South Africa’s premier hospitality and chef college. Follow us to make a career as a chef, in hospitality, restaurants, hotels, and much more… Where will your dreams take you?
It’s the question on everyone’s lips, and it definitely looks like beer’s time to shine has come! With the rise of craft beer, and the surprising art of pairing beer with food, beer has a few surprises up its sleeve…
Craft beer is beer which is brewed by small, independent breweries – called microbreweries – as opposed to beer produced en masse by corporate mega-breweries.
While microbrewing was a way of life for many people the world over for centuries, many of these breweries were forced to shut when multinationals cornered the market.
Now, however, microbrewers are fighting back by creating craft beers with their own distinct flavours and characteristics, using high quality, regional ingredients. And beer drinkers – bored with the standard commercial offering – are jumping at the chance to drink new and unique beers!
Are you a beer connoisseur?
As microbreweries work to take back the beer industry, an interesting phenomenon is emerging. Beer, once considered the preserve of the ‘lager lout’ down at the pub, is being elevated to a drink of distinction. We’re seeing the appearance of fine beers, beer aficionados or beer connoisseurs, beer tasting, and even beer lists!
But can beer really be placed alongside fine drinks like wine or whiskey? “Yes,” says Garret Oliver, microbrewer and editor of the Oxford Companion to Beer.
Which brings us to the next question: pairing food with beer?
Bring me the Beer List!
We’re used to matching wines to food, but according to Garrett, it’s beer which is unrivalled in its diversity and compatibility with a vast array of foods, not wine.
Whether it’s a traditional roast beef, an exotic Thai curry or a rich, decadent dessert, there’s a beer to complement it. So, next time you sit down at your favourite restaurant, wave aside the wine list and ask for the beer list instead!
But if you’re picturing ripping open a six pack and cracking open a can to go with that fillet mignon, you’ve got the wrong end of the stick!
Garrett points to the complexities of an expertly brewed craft beer, not a run-of-the-mill brand beer.
While macrobreweries have led us to believe lagers are the be all and end all when it comes to drinking beer; traditionally there are as many varieties of beer as there are wines.
Guide to selecting the right brew
Lager – clean and refreshing, with a light aroma and flavor, it’s good with chicken and seafood
Brown Ale – on the sweeter side with a malty, earthy character, pair it with beef, pizzas and spicy foods
Pale ale – woody, malty, sometimes with a spicy flavor, it’s great with lamb, wild game dishes and liver pâté
Porter – dark, almost opaque with a rich malty taste and hints of toffee and chocolate, it should be paired with smoked foods, particularly pork.
Stout – similar to porter but heavier and richer, with a molasses taste, it’s good with meat dishes, oysters, mushrooms and chocolate desserts.
Pilsner – a clean and simple lager with a strong hops, slightly bitter taste, pair it with pasta dishes, shellfish and chicken.
Wheat beer – a light beer, good for summer, with a distinctly yeasty taste, it’s great with spicy Mexican, Indian or Thai dishes.
The top five beer drinking countries of the world are the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Ireland, and Estonia; while the top five wine drinking countries are France, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, and Andorra.
Who’s drinking what?
In South Africa, beer is more widely consumed than wine, although South Africa is one of the top wine producing countries of the world. However, microbrewing beer is taking off in a big way here, too. Find a beer microbrewery near you!
Wine’s not the only beverage you can use during cooking – beer is also great for enhancing the flavours of a meal. Take a look at these flavoursome recipes from the American Beer Institute. Cheers!
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