“This could well be the loveliest venue ever chosen for a MasterChef series anywhere in the world,” says M-Net senior commissioning editor Anne Davis. “We wanted to shoot in the winelands because Cape vineyards are immediately recognisable to local and international viewers as distinctly South African.
"The Western Cape is also the culinary capital of South Africa and has great access to fresh produce. We obviously also wanted good weather and the Cape summer offers a very favourable climate. Nederburg was able to provide everything we were looking for.”
The Paarl winery, set against the dramatic Drakenstein Mountains, has revamped its Johann Graue Auction Hall, annual venue for its Nederburg Auction, equipping it as the kitchen for the show that will be broadcast weekly over 18 weeks.
The 1,000 m² venue will be where most of the show’s action will take place, but it is also close enough to any off-site challenges in which the contestants will be involved, according to the organisers.
Davis says the overhaul of the Nederburg auction hall has been an extensive process. There are over 20 cooking stations equipped with state-of-the-art appliances and utensils. To create the floor and the walls, over 15 tonnes of wood was sourced locally, while 5 kilometers of underfloor cabling have been used and the garden around the area has been beautifully landscaped.
When the MasterChef SA team approached Nederburg to consider making the winery facilities available for the series, the winery was ready to oblige. “Nederburg is surrounded by gorgeous gardens, vineyards and sweeping views of the mountains. The historic and contemporary buildings create an exciting blend of classical and modern, and altogether this is a very appealing and attractive location,” says Suné van der Merwe, Distell’s category manager for wines in South Africa and whose portfolio includes Nederburg. “We are very proud of its starring role.”
The MasterChef set will be closed to the public until production of the series is concluded in March.
Nederburg, established in 1791, is South Africa’s most awarded winery and the official wine sponsor of MasterChef South Africa. Its prize to South Africa’s first MasterChef will include a customised sommelier course, one-on-one masterclasses in wine presented by Nederburg’s cellarmaster Razvan Macici, and a year’s supply of Nederburg Winemaster’s Reserve wines.
In 2011 Nederburg was chosen as the Platter’s South African Wine Guide Winery of the Year for having the highest number of five star wines. This year, it shares the honours with two other wineries.