April 17, 2024

Durban Chef wins prestigious FEDHASA Hospitality Award for Culinary Excellence

Clinton Bonhomme, the Executive Chef at the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC), has been honoured with the prestigious 2024 FEDHASA Hospitality Award for Culinary Excellence. These inaugural hospitality awards emphasise individual excellence, spotlighting the industry and paving the way for passionate, driven individuals to forge meaningful and rewarding careers, while also elevating South Africa as a global destination.

This accolade underscores Clinton’s significant contribution to the ICC’s food and beverage operations, solidifying the venue’s position as a leading culinary destination in South Africa’s vibrant hospitality landscape.

On the morning of the awards ceremony, Clinton oversaw the preparation of over 3 000 dishes for the day’s events at the ICC – a testament to his extraordinary commitment and expertise in the culinary arts. “Before I even stepped on that plane to accept the award, my team and I were already hard at work. We ensure excellence at every event we cater for.”

This focus on quality and execution has been a hallmark of Clinton’s leadership at the ICC, where he has transformed the venue’s culinary offerings over the past five years. Known affectionately as the “Purple Chef” due to his signature purple attire and unique style, he has raised the bar for large-scale culinary operations and enhanced the dining experience.

His initiatives have also proven to be a crucial economic driver for the community. By sourcing ingredients from local farmers and suppliers, Clinton ensures the community benefits directly from the ICC’s success.

“Working with local suppliers isn’t just about getting fresh products; it’s about building relationships and supporting the local economy,” says Clinton. This approach extends beyond the kitchen to the broader supply chain, where Clinton actively engages with suppliers to ensure quality and sustainability.

Clinton’s approach at the ICC is deeply rooted in teamwork. ” This award isn’t just for me. It’s a recognition of my entire team’s hard work, dedication, and commitment. Together, we have built something truly special, and I am honoured to be part of this journey.”

He is also dedicated to mentorship and education, which has fostered an environment of continuous learning and improvement. “We regularly hold training sessions, not just on cooking techniques but also on cost management and sustainability practices. This way, we ensure our team is skilled, versatile, and aware of industry trends,” he adds.

Clinton’s culinary journey has been marked by a passion for the industry that began in childhood, helping his mother in the family kitchen. After honing his skills at the local culinary school in Durban, he went on to work at Woolworths before earning a scholarship from renowned chef Christina Martin.

Under Martin’s mentorship, Clinton developed his signature style that seamlessly blends innovation, precision, and prioritising locally sourced ingredients. “Those years with Chef Martin were pivotal in shaping my culinary philosophy,” he explained. “She taught me the importance of attention to detail, the power of teamwork, and the joy that comes from delivering an exceptional dining experience.”

This philosophy has become the foundation of Clinton’s approach at the ICC, where he has introduced new concepts to stimulate his team. “We’ve created little breakaway rooms where we can cater for groups of 10 to 30 people,” he said. “This has allowed us to draw a different kind of clientele.”

Clinton’s story of dedication, passion and a relentless pursuit of excellence is an inspiration to aspiring chefs. And as he prepares to lead the ICC into the future, his culinary expertise and innovative approach have already solidified the venue’s reputation as a hospitality leader and hub of gastronomic creativity.

“Beyond just the food, the judges were particularly struck by Clinton’s deep investment in the local community. By sourcing ingredients from nearby farmers and suppliers, he has created an economic ripple effect that benefits the entire region. This holistic, sustainable approach to large-scale catering is truly pioneering and deserving of this prestigious award. Clinton Bonhomme is raising the bar for what is possible in hospitality, and his story serves as an inspiration to chefs everywhere,” said FEDHASA Cape Chairperson, Lee-Anne Singer.

In her opening remarks at the awards held on April 12, 2024, at the Century City Convention Centre in Cape Town, the Honourable Minister of Tourism South Africa Patricia de Lille congratulated FEDHASA on the inaugural awards. “Tourism and hospitality are powerful vehicles to showcase our country and all we have to offer as we draw visitors,” said Minister de Lille. “But it’s the people of our country that are at the heart of our hospitality sector. I want to express my deep gratitude to all the winners. Your commitment is what keeps us at the top of many global destinations. Let us use the euphoria of days like today to motivate us to work harder and exceed standards to be a global leader in hospitality and tourism.”

Minister De Lille noted that collaboration between the public and private sectors is essential to growing tourism in South Africa. She was pleased to see categories in the awards that are not often recognised, such as Executive Housekeeper of the Year, Front of House Manager of the Year, and Young Professional of the Year. 

“I want to assure you and remind you that you are such an important part of this sector,” said de Lille. “We appreciate what you do, and we also appreciate you. When you do your work with pride, it will be recognised.”

The 2024 FEDHASA Hospitality Award winners are:

  • Culinary Excellence: Clinton Bonhomme, Durban ICC
  • Executive Housekeeper of the Year: Enara Muza, The Silo Hotel
  • Facilities Manager of the Year: Jannie Roos, Peermont Hotels, Casinos and Resorts
  • Food and Beverage Manager of the Year: Anika de Jongh, The Silo Hotel
  • Front of House Manager of the Year: Deborah Naicker, ANEW Hotel Hilton
  • Hospitality Technology Provider: Profitroom (Leigh Myles)
  • Hotel General Manager of the Year: Chris Godenir, The Peninsula All-Suite Hotel  
  • Leader of the Year: Denise Stubbs, Thokozani Wines
  • Manager of the Year – Business Support: David Masawi-McCann, The Silo Hotel
  • Restaurant General Manager of the Year: Gabrielle Roland, Century City Conference Centre and Hotels
  • Shared Prosperity (ED): Shireen Onia and Michelle Page, Service Gurus
  • Sustainability: David Pollock, Hotel Verde Cape Town
  • Young Professional of the Year: Kirsty Jamieson, Protea Hotel by Marriott Nelspruit

FEDHASA also announced the induction of new members into its new FEDHASA Hall of Fame. These accolades recognise the remarkable contributions and lifetime achievements of hospitality industry stalwarts.

  • Arthur Gillis, Platinum Hospitality Holdings  
  • Clifford Ross, City Lodge Hotels 
  • Nicky Fitzgerald, Angama 

Singer encouraged all FEDHASA members to nominate their exemplary employees for the upcoming FEDHASA Hospitality Awards 2025. Nominations for 2025 will open on Monday, 2 September, 2024.For more information, www.Fedhasa Awards