Bring Halal Cooking And Food Preparation Skills Back To Cape Town

Tamsyn Wells and Dion Ventagass at Halal cooking competition

A pair of Cape Town-based chefs from South Africa has won the opportunity to travel to Singapore to learn more about the needs of Muslim travellers, specifically with regard to Halal cooking and food preparation.


Executive Chef at the African Pride 15 on Orange Hotel, Tamsyn Wells, has won the first prize during a Halal cooking course, along with Dion Vengatass, another Cape Town chef. With a large local Muslim community, Cape Town is also an appealing destination to Muslim travellers around the world. With this in mind, Cape Town Tourism is aiming to create increased awareness locally of the dietary requirements of Muslim travellers. “Cape Town has great potential as a destination for the Muslim traveller, so we’re laying the foundations for growth in this market by driving awareness around this market’s needs, with a view to seeing more travel and hospitality businesses adapting what they have on offer so that we can be truly welcoming. This will attract more visitors and boost the tourism economy,” explains Enver Duminy, CEO of Cape Town Tourism.

Cape Town Tourism partnered with Crescent Rating – the ‘world’s leading authority on Halal travel’ – for a Chef Exchange Programme to educate local chefs about Halal cuisine. Two chefs from Singapore, Muhammad Kamal and Javed Ahamed, were brought to Cape Town to train a group of chefs from local hotels and restaurants. A group of 37 of Cape Town’s finest chefs took part in the training programme, where they learned about Halal and Islamic principles, recognising Halal ingredients, healthy Halal eating, and the integration of Islamic principles with Halal food. The local chefs also did an online assessment, with those placing in the top 20 being invited to take part in a practical cooking demonstration. For this, the chefs were paired up to replicate two dishes (a starter and main) as demonstrated by chefs Kamal and Ahamed, after which teams participated in a dessert challenge with the chance of winning a trip to Singapore to continue their learning.

Tamsyn Wells, halal main course

Chefs Wells and Vengatass were declared the winning team for their Vietnamese-inspired creation. Wells studied at the Silwood School of Cookery and gained experience at several of Cape Town’s leading hotels and restaurants, working with some of the city’s top chefs.  She joined the African Pride 15 on Orange Hotel in 2009, and soon moved up the ladder, taking on positions as Senior Sous Chef and Executive Sous Chef before earning her current title of Executive Chef. “We were given 15 minutes to design a Pan Asian dessert from a mystery basket. When the basket was revealed, all the products reminded me of a dessert I had in Vietnam, so I suggested to my partner that we make an adapted version of this,” Wells explains. “The dish we created was candied, spiced beans hidden in a coconut panna cotta, with roasted mango, pistachio brittle and mango parfait.”

Tamsyn Wells, winning dessert

In March 2018, the pair will be jetting off to Singapore for four nights thanks to the mouth-watering creation. “In Singapore, we will spend a day in the kitchen with the chefs we trained with and they will be taking us on a food tour of all the local areas and eateries. They use interesting products and blend flavours differently from our approach in South Africa, so I hope to learn some new dishes and flavour combinations to incorporate into my style of cooking,” says Wells. Of the course, Wells says that she and the other participating chefs now feel more confident in their knowledge of preparing Halal food. “I learnt that the Halal way of eating is a very clean, pure way of living. We were introduced to the Crescent Rating system used globally, and the best products to use. I also met Halal suppliers and they should be good contacts for our future sourcing of products.”

The initiative has expanded this chef’s exposure to the wider world of food, providing her with knowledge of different cultures and their food preparation.

Source and images: Irvine Partners