Hartford House

The Home of Good Conversation, Fine Wine and Classic Horses.

Award-winning hotel and restaurant situated at Summerhill Stud on the picturesque KwaZulu-Natal Midlands Meander, South Africa.

Filtering by Tag: Victor Strugo

Hartford House scores Platinum at AMEX Fine Dining Awards

Head Chef Jackie Cameron and Hartford GM Vanessa Coetzee receive Hartford's AMEX Platinum Award / American Express (p)

Head Chef Jackie Cameron and Hartford GM Vanessa Coetzee receive Hartford's AMEX Platinum Award / American Express (p)


The recipients of the 2013 American Express Fine Dining Awards were announced recently and we're proud at Hartford House to have been awarded the Platinum accolade; counting Hartford among the nation's most prestigious fine dining establishments. This is the 15th year in which the Awards have been held and sitting on the judging panel were renowned food critic Victor Strugo, food writer Anna Trapido and Cape Town-based 'foodie' Tamsin Snyman, assisted by a team of anonymous and experienced assessors. Congratulations to Head Chef Jackie Cameron, GM Vanessa Coetzee and the entire Hartford Team.


Chef Jackie Cameron / Independent Newspapers (p)

Chef Jackie Cameron / Independent Newspapers (p)

By Tarryn Gill

PLAY (Independent Newspapers) introduces the WonderWomen series, a much-needed celebration of amazing, inspirational South African women we encounter daily. These are women who glow with tenacity, spirit and energy and who achieve often against all odds and in tough male-dominated environments. The May issue feature's Hartford House Head Chef, Jackie Cameron :

The attractive 29-

year-old blonde with the bold voice and twinkly earrings is not what I am expecting. I'm immediately taken aback at her confidence, she's certain but not overwhelming. I like her and I can't stop thinking about what she's whipping up for lunch. She has been described as a gastronomical memory maker, winning countless awards and voted by SA Tourism as one of the Top 10 Young South African Chefs. I just know that whatever lunch is, it's going to be good.

I'd like to undo the damage done to the f-word and ask you straight up. Are you a feminist?

I am a woman in a male-dominated industry - kitchens have become a man's world. But in it, I wear my earrings, do my hair, I have even designed a new range of chef jackets. I work damn hard, I get it done. At the same time I enjoy looking good, that makes me feel good, and yes, that's me being a feminist.

What's a day in the life of Jackie Cameron like?

Dominated by food! I run the front and the back of Hartford House's five-star restaurant, I'm finishing off my new recipe book, I'm designing a new range of chef jackets, I handle all the media requests that come in, and of course, not a plate leaves my kitchen that isn't checked by me.

Like most women, it sounds like you're mastering the art of multi-tasking. How do you find the creative energy to stay ahead of the pack?

I have no free time, but I do make time to spend with my family and I do set aside hours where I can be creative. In my game, you have to. I travel globally, as much as I can, keep up my research and I am lucky enough to have great guides like Anna Trapido, Victor Strugo and Margot Janse who are all very supportive.

So you believe in mentorship?

Yes. One of the aspects I love most about my work is the training. No award can compare to the reward you get from witnessing the growth of another person. In my kitchen, compassion is important, it's an all-women kitchen and I don't want anyone to fail so I spend time training my team. As a woman chef... I have kitchen rules : Rule #1: No one comes into the kitchen angry or stressing about an issue. We speak upfront, get it out of the way, then we work. Rule#2 : If there are any errors during service, we tackle it after service, not during, and we tackle it constructively.

So you don't do a Gordon then?

No, I definitely do not do Gordon. There's no screaming, shouting or swearing in my kitchen. That's not the way I was brought up. Some of my team members are ex-farm workers, some can't speak English very well, and most of them are mothers. I can't do that to them. Their work is invaluable to me and to Hartford House.

The talent, the hard work, the flair, the chic. I like the whole package, the way you own your femininity and strength, all at the same time and in a difficult male-dominated field.

Thank you, my femininity is empowering.

What's the one thing you want to say to young aspiring women wanting to go this route?

Think long and hard. Don't do it for the wrong reasons, it's no quick walk to fame. Start by researching all the options: chef, food writer or photographer, even catering. Make the decision that's best suited to you and have passion.

What are you doing tonight?

Cooking for a charity initiative called Food for Thought that assists street kids in Durban.

How's your love life out there in the beautifully dreamy KZN Midlands?

What love life? I am very single at the moment and enjoying it very much, thank you.

If you want to sample Jackie's fabulous cuisine, go to www.hartford.co.za or sample her pizza creation at your nearest Col'Cacchio pizzeria, the Carpe Funghi which contains mozzarella, caramelised onion, oven-roasted mushrooms, roasted gadic and Italian Parmesan, topped with thinly sliced beef Carpaccio, truffle mayonnaise and fresh dill. R5 from every pizza sold goes to Children's Hospital Trust.

Extract from PLAY


American Express Awards 2011

Victor Strugo, Jackie Cameron and Vanessa Singh
(Photo : Hartford House)


As matriculants prepare for their final exams and the last of their school days, our minds turn to prize-giving. In the culinary world, it's no different, as the various gourmet critics put their final pens to paper, and national competitions draw to a close.

One accolade Hartford has always treasured is the American Express Fine Dining Awards, not only for what the certificate represents on the restaurant's wall, but for the respect we have for its organisers, and especially for Victor Strugo, who holds a place among the world's most discerning food critics, let alone South Africa's.

Victor has been a deep inspiration to our team at Hartford House, and a guiding light to Jackie Cameron since her earliest days, when he first discovered her rare talent. Victor knows that at Hartford we operate in unusual circumstances, remote from most of the world, and with people who started out in life with little or no skills to speak of. Over the years, he has watched as young ladies from our community with limited educational qualifications, have grown to the point of representing this country in places like Zurich, Prague and Shangai. Victor's role with us has not been confined to the awarding of prizes; it's been an upliftment project which has changed lives.

Behind these awards is a lovely lady, Vanessa Singh. American Express are lucky to have her; her enthusiasm is infectious, her organisational capacity is evident in the way these awards are managed, and as a member of the previously disadvantaged community herself, she has scaled every ladder there has been to climb.

This past week, Jackie Cameron and one of her assistants Delli Nene, made the pilgrimage to Byzance in Lonehill, where Hartford picked up its 6th consecutive American Express Platinum banner.


Lannice Snyman / Portfolio Collection (p)

Lannice Snyman / Portfolio Collection (p)


We are very sad at the passing of Lannice Snyman, the founding editor of Eat Out. The doyenne of rustic South African cooking was many things: dynamic publisher and author of many beautiful, well-thumbed books; restaurant critic; journalist; food stylist; great and inspiring friend; wife; mother – and most recently a grandmother. Lannice will be missed terribly.

Justine Drake

“Fabulous friend of 20 years, motherly mentor, insightful sounding board, daunting critic and deliciously wicked partner in crime, I will miss you in so many ways, and for so many reasons but mostly because lunch in this town will just never be the same without you (and your acerbic wit) there. Fly with the angels.” Love always, Justine xxx

Peter Goffe-Wood

“Lannice was a terrible food critic – because she always saw the best in people. Even when she’d eaten a diabolical meal she would always see a glimmer of hope and have an encouraging word. Chefs loved her because she was always honest, never brutal. She understood what it meant to have your reputation on every plate and was always respectful of the responsibility that her position wielded. May the sauce be with you.”

Margot Janse

“I met Lannice for the first time in Johannesburg 18 years ago when I had just started working as a chef in the kitchen of Ciro Molinaro. In an article, she wrote that I had ‘chutzpah’. I had to look up its meaning and realised it was a rather apt observation and a great compliment. “She was brilliant at that: observing . Lannice didn’t miss a thing – even when we really would have liked her not to have noticed something. “What an amazing woman! Positive, inspiring and very witty. I am lucky to have shared many special moments with her, and to have received her critique, advice and friendship. “I am really very fortunate to have spent an hour with Lannice last Wednesday – talking, laughing and reminiscing. As I told her when we said goodbye – she is my hero!”

Garth Stroebel

“I am sure I speak for all the chefs of South Africa and members of the gastronomic fraternity when I say that the food industry has lost an icon and, moreover, a great friend. Lannice’s many books and articles have been an inspiration to both professional cooks and housewives. Known for her incredible lust for life, her enthusiasm, contagious sense of humour, warmth of character and her downright honest approach to her work, Lannice’s contribution to the world of food has been nothing short of remarkable. Lannice, we will miss you enormously. Our deepest sympathy to her husband, daughters, and granddaughter.”

Jos Baker

“A great lady. A centre-stage character, totally professional in her working life and a caring, generous friend. Lannice, we’ll miss you. You leave BIG shoes to fill.”

Francois Ferreira

“Lannice taught me everything I know about reviewing a restaurant – she was very generous with her knowledge and insisted that the restaurant should be reviewed honestly and with integrity. She would praise generously when it was warranted and give strict criticism when needed. She was a mentor, a sounding board and friend. I will miss her greatly.”

Donald Paul

“Lannice Snyman died in the early hours of Sunday morning, 9 May. This banal declaration upturns an entire sense of place and meaning for those who knew her. Someone once said there are such people that to think of a world without them is inconceivable. If we didn’t know Lannice, we would have had to invent her. Fortunately, many did know her. She was fabulous, formidable and funny. She was a smart businesswoman, an astute publisher, a relentless editor, a delightful writer and a consummate chef. And in all these endeavours, she consumed with passion. But all of this seemed so beside the point once you got to know her. For, above all, she was the most wonderful friend: generous, embracing and compassionate. She didn’t suffer fools gladly - even among her friends and family - and careless behaviour from anyone was not left unnoticed but always forgiven. She had a huge heart and a canny wisdom that, like her recipes, cut through the obfuscations of cloying flavour-confusing ingredients, called a herb a herb, and told it to you good, clean and fair.”

Heather Parker

“Lannice leaves a space at the table that cannot be filled. But it will always be honoured. And a glass will always be raised to her and the memories she has made for us all. “Lannice was, simply, lovely. Huge hug, huge heart, huge smile, all wrapped in bright and floaty fabrics. “Also, she was nobody’s fool: she had an acute mind, an impeccable palate, and a finely honed bulldust detector – and no qualms about letting you know about any of them, which meant the love her friends and colleagues felt for her was rightly tempered by well-deserved respect. “Around her table I have had some of the happiest and best meals of my life, and thanks to her many cookbooks, I have a rich understanding of the diverse and sometimes eccentric culinary traditions of this country. Her contribution to the food world as author, publisher and judge is, simply, immeasurable, and we’re much the poorer for her passing. But what her friends will most remember is Lannice’s wonderfully irreverent sense of fun, and her mothering. She was generous with her time, and proactive with her support. And she really knew what to do with good chocolate. I will miss her terribly.”

Franck Dangereux

“Lannice was a friend. We first met in 1997. ‘That was awesome,’ she once said to me with a twinkle in her eyes, after she had just finished eating her last mouthful of my braised lettuce with red wine sauce and poached bonemarrow. ‘I haven’t had bonemarrow in years!’ “We went on to talk about French regional cuisine and what we could possibly do with fresh veal sweetbreads, and eventually the conversation turned to South Africa and its wondrous unexploited resources, secrets and talents, ancient recipes and incredible farmed produce. Lannice was in love, it was pouring out of her: the virtues of open-fire cooking in the late afternoon light, the warmth of a full day of sun on the garden boulders, the smell of braaing ribs and the laughter of her family in the background. She was talking about what she loved and, being in the early years of my career in South Africa, I was impressed and inspired. Lannice was one of those few people who helped me make this country my home. For this, I am forever grateful. “There is no doubt in my heart that her beautiful soul will soon return in the body of one, who will learn, love and try to make our world a better place again.”

Michael Olivier

“Lannice Snyman died in the early hours of Mother’s Day, after a long battle with cancer. Her passing leaves a hole in all our lives. How can it be that we will not bump into her at the next foodie function? I met Lannice with her parents in the 1960s and her friendship has been something very special and dear to me. “She set the food-and-lifestyle writing benchmark, to which many aspire. She set a fine example of how one should live one’s life, with one’s family. She was a good, kind, generous and loving person. “Her many books are testimony to her extensive knowledge and her ability to style food so that it looks so mouthwateringly edible. She made a huge contribution to the restaurant industry – there are few in the business who were untouched by her. She was a judge at the annual Winelist Awards, where her extensive knowledge of the restaurant business was so useful to the whole panel. “Our loving thoughts go out to her loving husband Mike, her daughters Courtenay and Tamsin, her son-in-law Chris and granddaughter Trinity. While we mourn her passing with immense sadness, we rejoice in her legacy, we treasure the memories we have of her, and we are humbled that she chose to touch our lives in such a meaningful way.”

Susan Huxter

“It was with great sadness that I learnt that Lannice Snyman – friend, author and respected culinary guru – had passed away in the early hours of Sunday morning. At moments like this I find myself wondering about the fairness of life… where such a wonderful, gifted, passionate person, with so much to give, had to leave the world too soon, way before their time. “I have known Lannice for over 30 years and we have shared a love of food, travelling and – most importantly – family and friends. On a professional front I think all restaurateurs and chefs respected Lannice’s views because she really had been there and done it! Lannice knew what it was like to be behind the stove and how to cope with the dily pressures of restaurant life. She introduced the first real restaurant awards. She was always brutally honest and fiercely loyal. Over the years Lannice and I ate in London and Paris; we explored all sorts of shops, laughed together and shared many a difficult time together. But in the 30 years I knew Lannice, I also knew that what really made her eyes light up, and her face radiant, was her family. She adored her husband Mike, whom she met at school and shared the rest of her life with, and her two daughters, Courtenay and Tamsin. They were the centre of her universe and I think that Lannice considered the day she became a grandmother her greatest achievement. When we returned from the 2010 World Top 50 Awards in London, we all remarked that the one thing that was missing was Lannice. I was fortunate enough, along with Margot, to have visited Lannice earlier last week. Both Margot and myself enjoyed an extraordinary hour with Lannice. We discussed food, dinners in Paris, 30 years of friendship and just how bad hospital food really is! I will forever treasure this hour with Lannice; it was a gift. Lannice – my dear friend – we will continue to strive to be better. We will miss your advice, your input and your smile. You will be with us in spirit whenever we enjoy a meal in a restaurant that we have read about, researched, and travelled half way around the world to get to. You were our mentor, our sounding board, our fiercest critic and, above all, our dear friend. We will miss you.”

Gwynne Conlyn

“Although Lannice’s life was filled by the many who respected and loved her, she always made me feel like her special, one-in-a-million friend and shining star. I cannot think of another woman who was able to combine as successfully as Lannice did, play and perspicacity, hard slog and love. Lannice made a difference to the very fabric of my life and will always be my food guru.”

John Psillos

“Lannice Snyman, Eat Out’s longest-serving editor, passed away on 9 May 2010, after a long illness bravely borne. “I had the privilege of working with Lannice for over seven years, during which time she helped build Eat Out into South Africa’s foremost authority on restaurants. In the process, we had lots of fun and at times shed a few tears. “Lannice’s enthusiasm, commitment, passion, professionalism, and dedication to her work were an inspiration to all her colleagues. “All of us at New Media Publishing will miss her for her contributions and drive, but will always remember her fondly.”

Victor Strugo

"I worked with Lannice for 14 years and in that time we vey quickly became close friends. She loved South Africa, she was immensely knowledgeable and had a gift for conveying her research and work in a way people could appreciate. The memory of her warm personality, her sense of humour, and her tremendous energy will live on in the hearts of her friends. And her books will remain classics for many years to come."

Beryl Eichenberger

“Lannice was truly an inspiration. Even to those who were not foodies, her passion made you eager to try, taste and enjoy her many delicious recipes and discoveries. My memories are of a woman of such strength and charisma that you were naturally drawn to her. With all the recognition she achieved she was always simply ‘Lannice who loved life, food and the people she came in contact with’. Ready with a smile and an encouraging word, or just happy to reconnect, she always made time to talk no matter how busy she was. We will all miss her but the legacy that she has left is a reminder of how important it is to share our lives through the joy of good food.”

A memorial service for Lannice Snyman will be held at St Cyprian's Cathedral on Saturday, 15 May at 11am.

Extract from Eat Out


Pamela White, Tania Maree, Vanessa Singh, Jackie Cameron, Victor Strugo

Pamela White, Tania Maree, Vanessa Singh, Jackie Cameron, Victor Strugo


It’s often been said that the great financial sage, Warren Buffet’s, winning-most investments were Coca-Cola and American Express, and American Express’ winning-most restaurants were announced at a gala function in Johannesburg on Monday night.  We’d scarcely dried the ink on Hartford House’ Diners Club Diamond Wine List Award, than we were greeted with the news that the culinary giants, Victor StrugoLannice Snyman andVanessa Singh were among those that had selected Hartford’s restaurant, it’s celebrated young chef Jackie Cameron, and the talented cooking and hospitality teams behind them, among just four KZN based restaurants in the fine dining categories.

Just a fortnight ago, Shaun Munroe of Durban’s grand old dame, the Beverley Hills, joined Jackie in a chef exchange between the two gourmet gems, and it was gratifying to see the Beverley  Hills and Andrew Draper among those locally based eateries, walking away with “gongs”.

Within the month we’ll know how Hartford fared as one of five finalists in House and Leisure’s national restaurant of the year, so (its..... award of the past twelve months) Hartford’s not just about being the only world class hotel on a world class stud farm.  It’s right up there with the best restaurants in the world, and if you think that’s stretching it, give it a shot.

The magnitude of Hartford's Top Ten Restaurant Award

Cheryl Goss and Jackie Cameron / Paula Mackenzie (p)

Cheryl Goss and Jackie Cameron / Paula Mackenzie (p)

"Form is temporary : CLASS IS PERMANENT"

There’s an old saying in the racing world that you might fluke the odd big performance, but it’s the ability to consistently achieve at the top level that’s the real mark of quality. The magnitude of Hartford House’s Top Ten Restaurant Award last Sunday evening, is only just beginning to sink in, and the extent of it is quietly coming home to us.

The reality is that none of these achievements are overnight occurrences, and they’re no different to winning Breeders’ Championships. We know what it took to put a team together capable of landing the spoils in the horse business, and the sustained record of four consecutive championships has been the product of almost 30 years of blood, sweat and tears.

In Hartford’s case, the journey started almost eight years ago, with the recruitment of a man by the name of Richard Carstens, who came to us with the option of working at Hartford or at our new venture at the time, Lynton Hall. As it turned out, despite Hartford’s own requirements, we felt that Lynton’s need was the greater because it was in its infancy, and after eight months at Hartford, Richard relocated to the coastal resort, where he took Lynton to a top ten finish in the national awards, and in the end, was elected the nation’s top chef.

As Richard was departing for Lynton Hall, we discovered a waif-like Thespian, who had already spent a year at the Mount Grace Country House & Spa, in the form of Pietermaritzburg born and raised Jackie Cameron, and she proceeded to beaver away as industriously as anyone we’ve ever come across in an already industrious team. Though wet behind the ears, Jackie quickly revealed an underlying potential that’s rare not only in people of her age, but uncommonly so in older people too. It wasn’t long before local critics nabbed onto her coattails, and began to invest in her growth. People like Mechthild Yorke-Mitchell, then restaurant critic for Wine Magazine, Anne Stevens of The Mercury, Derek Taylor of the Sunday Tribune, and latterly and very significantly, Victor Strugo of The Saturday Star, who has been a powerful personal mentor to Jackie. All of them caught onto the fire that was raging at Hartford.

Of course, there's been many other accolades, and last year the Hartford restaurant made the Dine Top 10: Deluxe 2008 voted by Diners club international & Wine magazine, but the Prudential Eat-Out Restaurant Awards are the summit of them all, and to have achieved this is the ultimate for any young chef or restaurant anywhere.

The point of this is that under Cheryl’s tutelage, in the relatively short space of 12 years, we’ve seen the emergence of two national celebrities in the culinary game, and it’s all a result of a sustained obsession that goes beyond perfection.

There’s no team in the world that can appreciate the significance of Hartford better than that at Summerhill. We know what it takes, and we understand what it is that keeps you there. Class, class and more class, and nothing less than class.

Hartford through connoisseur, Victor Strugo's eyes


Fine Cuisine
(Hartford House)

Fine food connoisseur Victor Strugo, always wildly enthusiastic about Hartford - its culinary excellence and the Wellness Centre - had this to say after a recent visit:

“At the risk of sounding predictable, you have again thrilled us with your wizardry and warmed our hearts with your welcome.  Coming to Hartford has become for us something like visiting heaven – it is just a totally different dimension from everyday life, and a significant part of its magic is created in your kitchen.

"We loved both the quiet intimate Monday dinner and Tuesday’s festive party.  Both menus were very impressive, particularly Tuesday’s which I thought very bold for dispensing altogether with fish and giving a succession of intensely flavoured meats.  But you (referring to Jackie Cameron, head chef at Hartford House) paced it wonderfully - the quantities were not overwhelming, the spicy variation held the interest and complex-sounding combinations proved to be totally harmonious dishes, and all beautifully presented.  Also, each dish had a surprise that gave it freshness and originality – I never would have thought that truffle-scenting brinjals would work so well, the candied vegetables were perfect (and beautiful) with that awesome duck and the brittle’s texture and flavour just finished off the dessert perfectly.

"The personal touch was very apparent even in the picnic basket that we enjoyed on the way to Joburg on Wednesday and finished in the office that afternoon.  Your home-made chocolates are wonderful and the description sheet was very thoughtful!"

Victor’s acclaimed fields of expertise include: Le GastroGnome, Saturday Star; Classic Feel Magazine; Wine Magazine; National Selector, American Express Fine Dining Programme; Regional Selection Panel, The World's 50 Best Restaurants