Garth’s first taste of Hospitality was when his family and grandparents moved from Cape Town to a small fishing village on the southernmost tip of Africa, called Cape Agulhas, to open the town’s only restaurant, The Caravel…he was 4 years old!
The restaurant ran for a few years and then the family decided to pack up and move back to the city, a decision young Garth was not too happy about – he missed the sand castles and rock pool fishing.
The family had many friends back in the city that owned and ran small restaurants from coffee cafés to steak houses to plate breaking Greek Taverns, where the influences of these charismatic, showmen and women captivated his attention.
Garth’s first real restaurant job came about due to his parents stopping his weekly pocket money allowance at the age of 14, he worked weekends, public holidays and school holidays and when he wasn’t working, he was surfing.
The bug bit hard and over the years Garth started moving his way up in the restaurant business. The true turning point came about in 2000 at the age of 18 when he moved to work for famed Cape Town restaurateurs, Peter Weetman, Tammy Botbyl, Rudi Minaar and Hugh van Zaan, at their ocean front restaurant, Bertha’s. It was at Bertha’s that Garths passion for wine was ignited and he did his first vintage harvest with Warwick Wine Estate. During this time Garth attended his first certificate wine training with the Cape Wine Academy, passing his Introduction and Intermediate certificates.
From Seafood Fine Dining Bertha’s he joined High-end Casual Restaurant, Cape to Cuba, moving from the restaurant floor to behind the bar, over the next 3 years Garth was responsible for the wine list, cigar menu and staff training. A second vintage harvest with Cape Point Vineyards completed his time with Cape to Cuba.
In 2003, Starwood Hotels was the first International 5star group to open in Cape Town, Garth was interviewed and selected to join the pre-opening team in the Beverage Department as Assistant Head Bartender for Banquets and Louis B’s Cocktail Bar, and Cigar Lounge Supervisor for Raleigh’s Cigar Bar. It was at The Westin Grand that he met famed wine entrepreneur, wine maker and Platter Wine Guide Panel Judge, Jabulani Ntshangase. Jabulani pushed Garth on his wine studies and eventually led him to leave The Westin Grand Hotel and join his specialist wine merchant company, Waterfront World of Wine and The Palms Fine Wine Shop. It was while managing The Palms Fine Wine Shop that Garth had his first wine experience out of South Africa…he saved up his pay and bought a bottle of Marchesi Antinori, Tignanello, Vintage 1991.
That EUREKA! moment sent Garth on to his next wine certificate with the Cape Wine Academy, Wine of The World.
Garth Started missing the rush of the restaurant and bar world and decided it was time to head back to crazy long shifts and no weekends, Jabulani recommended that he go speak with famed Cape Town Wine Critic, Brandy Association Chairman, Chef and restaurateur, Peter Veldsman. Garth Joined Emily’s in 2004 as Sommelier and Head Bartender, his first official Sommelier position. Peter’s love of wine and the history of his famed restaurant Emily’s opened Garth’s wine world even more, with a number of German and Austrian wines on the wine list, a rarity for the time due to high import taxes.
While at Emily’s, Garth’s 3rd vintage harvest came along with Hartenberg Wine Estate.
In May 2006, Garth joined renowned Cape Town Chef, Bruce Robertson, in opening his first restaurant, theshowroom as Assistant Manager and Sommelier. For the next year Garth was responsible for the beverage program at the restaurant under Chef Bruce’s watchful eye.
An opportunity to move to Hong Kong came up in September 2007 with a friend of the family wanting to open a new restaurant – unfortunately after just a few months the project was cancelled due to finances and Garth was on his way back to Cape Town!
In December 2007 a phone call from Dubai presented a wonderful opportunity for Garth to join WAFI Hospitality as Group Sommelier and on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas he stepped onto the aeroplane to Dubai.
In June 2008 Garth joined Luca Gagliardi in VERRE by Gordon Ramsay as Assistant Head Sommelier and for the next 2 years they (despite the heavy recession in Dubai and globally) increased the wine sales, increased the guest average spend and increased the overall revenue of the restaurant, not to mention earnt numerous awards on the local and international dining scene.
In 2010 it was time for Garth to spread his wings again and he joined the prestigious members only, Capital Club DIFC as Head Sommelier. For the next 12 months Garth focused on increasing the overall beverage department of the club, increased the wine selection and conducted numerous masterclass sessions for both staff and members alike, while at the club the beverage department saw an increase in revenue by 34%, a reduction of costs and an increase in overall profits.
From there Garth was head hunted to join Dubai home grown Japanese Restaurant & Lounge, OKKU, where he spent the next 2 years overhauling the wine and sake offering to match with the best in Dubai, having many exclusive listings and starting the “biodynamic/organic” wine/sake trend that is now firmly established in Dubai.
While at OKKU, Garth was nominated and won the Caterer Magazine Award, ‘Sommelier of the Year 2012’. Further responsibilities for the Whissle Group included wine development and training for RIVA Beach Club, CLAW BBQ and Casa de Tapas.
In January 2013 Garth left OKKU to co-develop and project manage ATELIER M, in Pier 7 Dubai Marina, a 23000sqft, 3 levels, 130+ Staff, AED30Million project…one of the biggest projects ever attempted in UAE – Garth successfully completed all pre-opening responsibilities and handed over to the General Manager in October 2013.
The next 3 years have seen Garth enter the realm of F&B Project Management where he has worked with Bulldozer Hospitality on TOKO and SASS Café beverage programs and for 2 years with Gates Hospitality as Project Manager for new concepts, business development and group beverage manager – Gates own and operate the following; Reform Social & Grill, The Black Lion, Bistro des Arts, Folly by Nick&Scott and Publique.