Sometimes, being an outsider is an advantage.

If there is anyone who brings life to this saying, it is Darryl Earl David. Currently a lecturer at the University of the Western Cape, Darryl was living in Howick, lecturing at the University of KwaZulu-Natal when the idea of a Gastronomy Creative City in South Africa inspired him to take action.

He had already been instrumental in facilitating Durban’s designation as a UNESCO Creative City for Literature in 2017 and had a reputation as a cultural activist, establishing literary festivals across South Africa.

“I was excited by the idea of a UNESCO City of Gastronomy,” says Darryl. “I felt a South African city needed a project of this magnitude to take its rightful place among the food capitals of the world.”

It was a mixture of luck and love that led him to Hermanus. “I’ve always loved Hermanus. I rate it as one of the most beautiful towns in South Africa,” says Darryl. But it was a chance meeting in Durban with Tracy Going, the well-known TV personality, that cemented the choice of Hermanus and the Overstrand as South Africa’s City of Gastronomy.

“Tracy was adamant that people in Hermanus would love my vision. She promised to introduce me to people who get things done.” says Darryl. When he was put in contact with Tania Fourie, organiser of The Global Challenge golf tournament, he immediately sensed that she was someone who cared more about her city than any potential financial gain. She asked him to “give her a day”.

“Well, she ended up needing a week, but she never backed down. Riana Scheepers, the well-known Afrikaans writer once said to me, ‘Darryl, the recipe for any festival is someone with vision, a few champions in town en ‘n kwaai tannie’. I think Tania was that kwaai tannie!”

Darryl adds, “The kwaai tannie then put me in touch with Frieda Lloyd. I realised it was Frieda’s job to champion such ideas in her role as the manager of Cape Whale Coast Tourism. But in 90% of the towns and cities in South Africa, tourism managers are not worth their salt. Frieda was different. She was driven. She was goal-oriented. She was meticulously organised.”

Once Frieda was on board, she took the idea to the mayoral committee a week later. “Luckily, the mayor and his team loved the idea and the rest, as they say, is history,” says Darryl.

Having the support of the mayor is crucial and non-negotiable for UNESCO. “If a mayor does not endorse the bid, your hands are tied and your application will not be accepted. Countless dead-end streets to South African mayors’ offices have taught me to box smart,” explains Darryl.

“With only two other South African cities recognised as part of the UNESCO Network, I knew it was going to take work in mapping our culinary achievements for the likes of an international panel. But I also knew that we, as a region, have so much to offer that we could not let this one go,” says Overstrand Executive Mayor, Dudley Coetzee, whose endorsement letter and promise of municipal funds added weight to the application.

“And then there is Shane Sauvage of La Pentola Restaurant,” continues Darryl. “What a breath of fresh air he proved to be! One of the country’s top chefs, with a heart of gold. I had always said I wanted to democratise the food festival circuit. It was Shane who planted the idea of a Food Bank Project for Hermanus as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy project. I was thrilled at the philanthropic work he does for those less fortunate, people as well as animals. So a big thank you to Shane. With a bit of coordination, I believe Hermanus can become a leading light when it comes to addressing issues around food security for those less fortunate than ourselves.”

Says Shane: “I am honoured to be amongst the chefs, farmers, fishermen and winemakers who, through our passion and innovation, provide an environmentally-driven table and hospitality culture in the Overstrand. Together, we celebrate local produce, creativity, skills, nature and sustainability while supporting a flourishing, vibrant and integrated community. This accolade is recognition of our combined efforts as a world-class culinary destination.”

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