Southern Sun Excels in the 2022 Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge

The list of winners in the 10th annual Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge is dominated by staff at hotels in the Southern Sun group.

Honours went to Jacques Moolman from Southern Sun the Cullinan, who was named General Manager of the Year, while 54 on Bath’s executive chef Kalpesh Hansjee was named Showcook Man of the Match. Senzo Mlambo, also from 54 on Bath, was named Chef of the Year, and the Ultimate Lancewood Pastry Chef of the Year went to Eon Le Roux from Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani. At the same time, the Beverly Hills hotel team was awarded the Best Menu Presentation.

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GM of the Beverly Hills with Best Menu Presentation winning team

In a jubilant awards ceremony, which took place on Thursday, 1 December 2022, Southern Sun staff accounted for an unrivalled 14 of the top spots across all the competition categories. Commenting on the group’s performance this year, Southern Sun chief executive Marcel von Aulock said, “This prestigious annual challenge makes a significant contribution to building and honing much-needed hospitality skills in our country, and we are exceptionally proud of our Southern Sun people. The winners’ commitment to mentoring and supporting their colleagues, passing the torch of excellence to a new generation each year, is one of the most engaging aspects of this challenge, which is anchored to the transfer of skills and mentorship in the hospitality sector.”

Among the outstanding prizes awarded was a trip to the US on an internship with the global Valor Hospitality group for Chef of the Year, Senzo Mlambo of Southern Sun’s boutique hotel 54 on Bath. While Pastry Chef of the Year, Eon le Roux of Southern Sun’s Elangeni & Maharani hotel received a three-week internship at the Château de la Creuzette in Boussac in central France.

General Manager of Southern Sun the Cullinan, the 2022 Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge General Manager of the Year, Jacques Moolman, said, “It is an honour to have received this recognition for which I am most grateful. It’s been incredibly uplifting to see the skills displayed by our staff at this year’s Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge. Their sheer determination and dedication are evidenced in these results, and I am immeasurably proud to work with them.”

Southern Sun racked up wins in almost every category of the 2022 Distell Inter-Hotel Challenge:

  • GENERAL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Jacques Moolman (Southern Sun The Cullinan)
  • SHOWCOOK MAN OF THE MATCH: Kalpesh Hansjee (54 on Bath)
  • CHEF OF THE YEAR: Senzo Mlambo (54 on Bath)
  • ULTIMATE LANCEWOOD PASTRY CHEF OF THE YEAR: Eon Le Roux (Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani)
  • MOST PROMISING PASTRY CHEF: Nonzuzo Mhlungu (The Edward)
  • SCANPAN EXCELLENT KITCHEN PRACTICE: Hot chef: Fuad Martin (Southern Sun Team)
  • MOST UP & COMING WINE STEWARD ‘THE WONGA AWARD’: Anthony Andrew ‘Jeremiah’ Govender (The Beverly Hills)

It was a hot streak for Southern Sun in the Avanti SA Baristas competition, who were placed in six of the nine top spots:

Western Cape

1st: Mthokozisi Nkomo (Southern Sun Team)

Gauteng & North-West

1st: Bontle Rahube (Southern Sun Team)

2nd: Karabo Motla (Southern Sun Team)


1st: Nkosikhona Mkhize (The Beverly Hills)

2nd: Sifiso Mngadi (Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani)

3rd: Lungisani Mnguni (The Edward)

In the Best Cocktail category, Southern Sun raised their glasses to the first and second-place winners:

1st: Mark Abrahams (Southern Sun Team)

2nd: Sibongile Majola (Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani)

And in the Wine Steward of the year category, Mark Abrahams from Southern Sun The Cullinan scooped third place.

Academic excellence in the Cape Wine Academy Top Performers category went to Debra Nxumalo from Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani, who scored 100% and Mark Abrahams from Southern Sun the Cullinan, who scored 97%. Among the top academic performers in the Sommeliers Academy category were Anthony Andrew ‘Jeremiah’ Govender from The Beverly Hills and Sibongile Majola from Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani, who both scored 95%.

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