Young up-and-coming sommelier Jonathan Wakefield has been selected to represent The Table Bay hotel on the V&A Waterfront in the 2019 Cape Legends Inter Hotel Challenge, one of the hospitality industry’s major showcases of food, wine and spirits pairings.
The multi-faceted challenge, sponsored by Cape Legends Fine Wines, is often called the “hotel Oscars” and has become recognised as a platform for highlighting the talent and expertise of trainees, giving them the opportunity to shine.
Wakefield, a Food and Beverage Supervisor at Sun International’s five-star hotel at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town, says he feels privileged to be competing in this year’s Cape Legends challenge.
“It’s a huge honour to even to be considered for the competition. The level of competition has always been exceptionally high so I’m looking forward to see how I stack up against the rest of the participants. Just to be part of it is a great source of motivation for me. It will also be a great networking opportunity to interact with people in the industry,” he says.
Born and raised in Cape Town, Wakefield has been interested in food, wine and alcohol in general for as long as he can remember.
“I have never been able to sit still and I was actually scared of being stuck behind a desk. I always had an interest in the service industry. Food and alcohol was a definite passion of mine and I knew this was the industry for me.”
The end of 2013, he got the opportunity to work on a luxury cruise liner. On the ship, he grew quite rapidly working in the bar. Towards the end of 2016, he became a sommelier onboard the same ship and completed the Court of Master Sommeliers certified level exam. This was a change of pace and style for Wakefield.
“Becoming a sommelier was the next part of my personal journey with the industry and alcohol itself. It is a specialised position that is recognised and respected globally. With the world of wine- and food-pairing constantly changing and evolving, there is very little chance of me ever becoming bored.”
He has been with The Table Bay for just over a year and loves that no two days are ever the same.
“It is the people that make The Table Bay such a captivating place to be. As staff, we have tremendous freedom to be creative and wow our guests to keep them happy.”
He is inspired by his work, specifically dealing with guests and training staff.
“I also like to keep my eye on new trends in the industry. Competition is stiff in the tourism industry. It is important to stay abreast of trends.”
Wakefield is 29 years old and has been married for almost a year. The youngest of five children, he comes from a big family and prioritises spending time with his loved ones.
He will be mentored on the wine- and spirits-pairing aspects by Heinrich La Meyer, The Table Bay’s Assistant Food and Beverage Manager, during the 2019 Cape Legends Inter Hotel Challenge. They will participate in several workshops in the lead up to the Western Cape Regional competition when they will compete against teams from other prestigious hotels. The national competition, when the finalists from across the country compete, takes place on June 11 and 12 2019.