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World chefs arrive in Cape town for Tour Against Hunger

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The wait is finally over!

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The wait is finally over! Thirty-five international chefs from 8 countries touched down in Cape Town last night to embark on an unforgettable 10-day culinary journey as part of the Bidvest World Chefs Tour Against Hunger. The plight of starving children in South Africa has motivated 250 chefs from 44 countries, along with over 700 local chefs, to give up their time and share their expertise during a massive 10-day fundraising drive throughout the country.

Pots clanging, pans sizzling, steam rising, and the tantalizing smells and tastes of foreign delicacies are some of the sights, smells, and sounds that the public can look forward to at the various food festivals and demos taking place at select venues countrywide. By supporting these initiatives, together with the not-to-be-missed gala dinners, the public will not only be able to taste cuisine from countries around the globe but will also play a role in raising funds to feed thousands of children. Proceeds raised during the tour will be donated to the Akani Diepsloot Foundation, African Children’s Feeding Scheme, and Meals on Wheels Community Services, all of which do extraordinary work in their communities, as well as various other regional charities.

This year’s tour, the third of its kind, is being arranged by the South African Chefs Association (SACA) and the Academy of Chefs, under the auspices of the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS). The tour’s patron is Dr. Bill Gallagher, founder of the original event in 1993, and its convenor is Martin Kobald, former SACA president.

“In the context of the worldwide recession and credit crunch, many charities and good causes across the country aren’t able to continue their good work, because there simply isn’t enough money to go around. The result is that the sustainability of charities has been seriously compromised,” said Gallagher, “Our objective, through Bidvest’s support and the fundraising initiatives of the tour, is to ensure that we can sustainably feed children over the next five years. It costs R10 a day to feed a child, and with R5 million we can feed 300 children every day for five years.” The proceeds raised through the tour will not be distributed in the form of monetary donations to charities but will be used to develop feeding schemes for the beneficiary charities and to buy the food needed to sustain those feeding plans for as long as possible.

Key events during the tour will include food festivals at various Southern Sun hotels in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, East London, and Nelspruit where the public will be able to sample speciality dishes prepared by the chefs; see demonstration kitchens at various shopping centers; and attend gala fundraising dinners, primarily for corporates, at which speciality items will be available on auction. “These events are going to be really exciting and a great way for the public to support the tour while enjoying some great cuisine and learning a trick or 2 to take home to their own kitchens,” said Gallagher.

From Wednesday, August 24 to Friday, August 26, Cape Town International Convention Centre will be the scene of live cooking demonstrations by the big-hearted and talented international chefs, with demonstration kitchens providing culinary theatre at its best – and the opportunity to taste mouthwatering international dishes from around the world. Demonstrations take place daily from 1045 to 1730 at hourly intervals, with a line-up that includes demonstrations of culinary delicacies from Canada, Norway, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, USA, Singapore, and Egypt. “Entrance is free, but the public is encouraged to do their part by donating to the cause or purchasing their very own BWCTAH chef’s hat for just R10. Seating is on a first-come-first-served basis,” said Brian McCune, regional coordinator of the Bidvest World Chefs Tour Against Hunger.

You can also book for the Chefs Without Borders Food Festivals at participating Southern Sun restaurants. Select from A Taste of Canada meets a Taste of Norway, hosted by Riempies Restaurant at the Southern Sun Cape Sun (021 488 5100); Czech Epicurian Delights, hosted by The Peach Tree Restaurant at Southern Sun The Cullinan (021 415 0000); The Romance of Austria and Modern German Cuisine at Yizana Restaurant at Southern Sun Waterfront Cape Town (021 409 4000); or Scintillating Taste of Singapore at Harbourview at Garden Court Eastern Boulevard (021 448 4123). Bookings at the restaurants are essential and can be made by calling your preferred restaurants and quoting “world chefs.”

The public can also support the tour’s additional fundraising efforts by purchasing a commemorative chef’s hat for only R10 or by buying framed or unframed prints of the official 2011 tour painting by well-known artist Frans Groenewald. South African pop singer PJ Powers, has re-recorded the song written for the 2003 tour, Sing Children Sing, to support the tour. The music will be available as a cell phone download for R10 to boost the fundraising drive. One only needs to sms the word “child” to 31755.

Said Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism: “Cape Town Tourism is looking forward to the Cape Town leg of the Bidvest World Chefs Tour Against Hunger. The ‘Mother City’ is known for its superb cuisine and talented chefs, and yet there are still many who do not eat even the most basic of daily meals. This event encourages us all to play our part in the fight against hunger, and we ask that the public combine their love of cuisine with an open heart to giving, by participating in this event.”

Phindile Hlalele, from one of the beneficiaries, ACFS, said: “The tour will address one of the biggest challenges faced by South Africans every day, that of hunger. Hunger is affecting the growth of our children, their health, and even their learning ability. Funds from this tour bring us hope of getting the much-needed funds we require to improve the quality of the lives of the less fortunate communities. It will allow us to provide assistance in the form of feeding the malnourished children, orphans, HIV/AIDS infected, children heading families, and children from the poverty-stricken families; children who would otherwise go to bed without any food.”

Bidvest has donated R3.6 million to the cause, while Southern Sun is providing all the accommodation for the 250 visiting chefs. Chefs from the 44 visiting countries have paid their own way for the tour and will be donating their time, expertise, and services free of charge.

“At Southern Sun we are honored to be a part of the Bidvest World Chefs Tour Against Hunger. Food is an integral element of our business, so it was a natural fit to partner with Bidvest on this worthwhile project. Creating awareness of the plight of hungry children in South Africa is one of the most effective ways to raise funds and eventually make a difference. This project offers every South African a chance to get involved. For Southern Sun employees, this is a unique opportunity to put our knowledge to work to improve the plight of the hungry. I am excited and confident that this project will reap fantastic results,” said Graham Wood, Managing Director of Southern Sun Hotels.

Brian Joffe, Chief Executive of the Bidvest group of companies, agreed saying hunger in South Africa is a challenge crying out for urgent action. “The problem is huge, but even the smallest contribution makes a difference if enough of us work together. That’s what Bidvest and the 2011 World Chef’s Tour Against Hunger participants are doing – working together. We won’t solve the problem of hunger on our own, but by bringing more and more like-minded people together we can make a start,” he said.

“We are expecting the Bidvest World Chefs Tour Against Hunger to be the biggest fundraising event yet undertaken within the global chefs’ fraternity. We call on the public to get involved, enjoy all the nuggets of fun the tour offers, and dig deep to support our efforts to feed the children of South Africa. We know we can make a difference. You can too,” concluded Gallagher.

The Bidvest World Chefs Tour Against Hunger is proudly supported by Bidvest and Southern Sun in association with SABC3.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.