What came first, the chicken or the egg? Both did at the Galliova Awards 2017, if its egg and chicken writers you're referring to.
Dr Charlotte Nkuna, interim CEO at the South African Poultry Association (Sapa) welcomed us to the 28th Galliova Awards, which celebrate food writers for their excellence in food writing, food styling and the overall promotion of South Africa’s local food culture. Health writers are also recognised for their writing excellence and balanced reporting on health and nutrition issues.
The ceremony took place at a wine farm again due to popular request, with Landtscap in the Stellenbosch Devondale valley offering stunning views in the countryside that enhanced this year’s theme of ‘Local is lekker’.
Nkuna acknowledged it has been a very difficult year for farmers, but we were there to look on the bright side and celebrate. She then introduced Colin Steenhuisen, as a retired ‘egg worker’ with 43 years of experience in the industry, who spoke as an honorary life member of Sapa.
It was an emotional talk, pointing out that we’ve just seen the worst drought in years, with yellow maize prices through the roof as a result. Steenhuisen said, “This year will be remembered for a record yellow maize crop of 16.5m tonnes, with prices at roughly R2 per egg on shelf and set to rise further.”
Adding to the seriousness, he spoke of the farmers bravely persevering despite their crops being hit by the catastrophic highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N8 virus. He added that there are two types of farmers in SA and that he’s praying for the second type – there are those who have had it and those who are yet to have it.
Steenhuisen encouraged investigative journalists in the room to reveal the truth to government and the consumer that egg farmers alone are not driving this inflation – there are many suppliers and few buyers, and both lose when retailers take a leaf out of the northern hemisphere retailers’ practice of economic squeezing of both farmer and consumer.
Steenhuisen thanked the facility managers for the beautiful venue, as well as the chef and staff faced with the daunting task of pleasing some of the country’s top food writers with their offering. He also encouraged us to drink the beer, wine and juice and leave the water for animal consumption, then welcomed this year’s judging panel:
- Zola Nene, chef and cook book author;
- Anna Montali, former food and deputy editor of Food & Home Entertaining;
- Dorah Sitole, former True Love food editor and cook book author;
- Professor Marthinette Slabber Stretch, a registered dietitian and Emeritus Associate Professor of the University of the Free State;
- Madeleine de Villiers, a nutritional consultant and registered dietitian in private practice; and
- Sapa’s Marco Torsius, MD of El-Azaar Poultry Farm in Bloemfontein.
It’s a task definitely not undertaken lightly, with Nene sharing:
It was an absolute honour to be part of the judging team for Galliova Awards this year, sitting on the panel with the other esteemed judges was an amazing experience. The calibre and standard of entries was really high, which made our job that much more difficult. It’s great to know that there are so many amazing food writers encouraging consumers to eat more eggs and chicken. Seeing the winners accept their awards at the beautiful event in such a picturesque setting was the icing on the cake!Speaking of icing on the cake, and keeping with the ‘local is lekker’ theme, as proudly South African writers, we were presented with a ‘mighty weapon’ to complete word search challenges tasks with throughout the afternoon and take home as a keepsake – a gorgeous pen designed by Carrol Boyes.
Following starters of deconstructed Caesar salad, with platters of freshly baked breads with a selection of pates, along with chicken livers and mini Thai chicken curry 'bunny chows', chairperson of the Broiler Association of Sapa, Marthinus Stander mentioned that he loved seeing a hard-boiled egg on table as these snacks are not wonderful in themselves, but: “Ride around the block with one in the car and it tastes like a holiday.”
Providing perspective from the chicken or broiler side, Stander pointed out that convenience remains a huge driver of consumer behaviour, and eggs come pre-packaged, how more convenient can it get? Then he spoke of the typical daily household query of “What’s for dinner?” While a rotisserie chicken with veg is the ideal convenient, healthy and balanced option, what do you do about convenience for poor people, those who are also working and get home late without the amenities to keep food fresh? That’s the true challenge.
Nkuna then introduced our next ‘chicken run challenge’ word search, with Yuppiechef vouchers as prizes. And then, mains: the bed of roasted garlic-chive potato purée was a perfect creamy base for the feta-peppadew stuffed chicken thighs, with confit red peppers and grilled asparagus providing a pop of colour and crunch. Delicious! Then it was time for the winner announcements…
Galliova Awards 2017 winners
|Up and Coming Food Writer|
|1. Suzanne Crozier - Vrouekeur|
|2. Liezl Vermeulen – Pick n Pay Fresh Living|
|3. Claire Ferrandi - Food & Home Entertaining|
|1. Glynis Horning – Freelance writer|
|2. Anna Rich - Fairlady|
|3. Salomé Delport – Rooi Rose|
|1. Christa Swanepoel - Vrouekeur|
|2. Justine Kiggen - Lose It|
|3. Hannah Lewry - Woolworths Taste|
|1. Abigail Donnelly - Woolworths Taste|
|2. Margie Els-Burger - Your Family|
|3. Anna-Carolina Alberts - Fresh Living|
|Food Writer Weeklies and Newspapers|
|1. Esther Malan – You/Huisgenoot|
|2. Suzanne Crozier - Vrouekeur|
|Food Writer Magazines|
|1. Herman Lensing – Sarie/Sarie Kos|
|2. Margie Els-Burger - Your Family|
|3. Abigail Donnelly - Woolworths Taste|
'Up and Coming Food Writer' winner Suzanne Crozier of Vrouekeur said she still feels extremely new to the industry of food writing, so was extremely honoured to have been presented with such a prestigious award so early in her food-writing career, and thanked everyone in the room for their support.
Freelancer Glynis Horning, this year’s 'Health Writer' winner, says the win is particularly satisfying as a freelancer who “beavers away from home in pajamas”. She admitted it can be challenging wearing so many hats at times, but it’s also “such fun,” and the two 'Health Writer' runners-up – Anna Rich of Fairlady and Salomé Delport of Rooi Rose – are her heroines.
The ‘Food Writer – Weeklies and Newspapers’ category only had two finalists this year, with Crozier announced as runner-up and winner Esther Malan of You/Huisgenoot thanking her fellow food writer and stylists for the inspiration they give her every day.
Rewriting the story of the chicken and the egg
In this case, the egg came first, with 2017 Galliova Awards Egg Champion Chrisna Swanepoel of Vrouekeur sharing a heartfelt ‘thank you’ in Afrikaans before the Galliova Awards’ first-ever Broiler Champion for chicken-writing, Abigail Donnelly of Woolworths Taste, jumped up and down in joy on stage and said she always wants to cry, whether happy or sad. She said acknowledgement like this keeps her going and that “the younger ones” inspire her to do her very best. This award was introduced this year following joint sponsorship of the awards by the country’s broiler or chicken producers as well as egg producers, under the banner of the Sapa.
From left to right: Marco Torsius (standing), Back: Esther Malan, Dorah Sitole, Marthinette Slabber Stretch, Glynnis Horning, Christa Swanepoel, Zola Nene. Front: Madeleine de Villiers, Herman Lensing, Suzanne Crozier, Abigail Donnelly and Anna Montali.
Donnelly was also awarded third place in the ‘Food Writer – Magazines’ category, with category winner Herman Lensing entertaining attendees by saying where he grew up in Upington, they only spoke three English words: “Yes, no and thank you.” Lensing has just turned 30 and shares the three top items on his current bucket list: He wants to work for a true heritage brand, experience true love and work with people who make his life better.
On that note, he spoke of his admiration for Donnelly, who told him early on in his career that if you truly want to understand food, you must be in love with ingredients. He says that was a life-changing moment for him and he has now made it his mission in life to share this message with others.
We ended on that sweet note, with a choice of canape desserts – rooibos-infused crème brulee, malva pudding cups with Amarula anglaise, fruit kebabs with toasted almonds and Fynbos honey, and milktart spring rolls. Local really is ‘lekker’.
Click here for a reminder of last year’s winners, and follow the Galliova Awards on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates.