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11 December, 2023
| The Silo Hotel

Attending the World Tapas Festival

Written by: The Royal Portfolio
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Much more than a morsel!

The Royal Portfolio team have notched up some remarkable achievements during 2023 – and each of them is worth celebrating. In this blog, we’re focusing on The Silo Hotel’s Chef Veronica and the World Tapas Festival.

As the Executive Chef of The Willaston Bar and The Granary Café at The Silo Hotel, Veronica Canha-Hibbert knows more than most about creating delicious, bitesize combinations of flavours. In fact, her renown led to Chef Veronica being invited to represent South Africa in the World Tapas Cooking Competition.

The festival and competition took place last month in Valladolid near Madrid, Spain – a city that’s known for its tapas culture. Chef Veronica has now returned from Spain, and when we caught up with her, it’s clear that her experiences have made a deep impression on her.

Chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert at the World Tapas Festival
‘Small Plates’ at The Silo Hotel

Left: Chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert at the World Tapas Festival
Right: ‘Small Plates’ at The Silo Hotel

Appearances matter

For Chef Veronica, taking part in the Worlds was a wonderful learning opportunity. One of the things that struck her was how theatrical the Spanish tapas entries were in terms of their presentation. Despite using delightful dishes from Mervyn Gers, she was left feeling that perhaps her tapas creations were a little lacking in this regard.

Chef Veronica is already planning to remedy this before next year’s Worlds by working with her team and a ceramicist to create some truly original and striking creations.

For me, it’s about the experience… it feeds into my curiosity – Chef Veronica

She was thrilled to be in the presence of so many Michelin-starred chefs, with the two main judges being Spain’s Iván Cerdeño Lopez and Pía Salazar of Ecuador. The standard of the entries was incredibly high, as indeed it had to be if these global superstar chefs were going to sit up and take notice.

Chef Veronica has always believed in passing on her knowledge, and with this in mind, she is already planning to work with one of her junior chefs to mentor them for a successful 2024 shot at the title.  

Croquetas de Snoek
Chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert at The World Tapas Festival

Left: Croquetas de Snoek
Right: Chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert at The World Tapas Festival

Spain comes to The Silo Hotel

At The Silo Hotel, she has created a great many ‘small plates’ using local ingredients – her dish for the competition was Croquetas de Snoek, a celebration of the freshness and flavours of South African ingredients.

Chef Veronica chose this as her entry because the croquette is a tapas staple, and she was inspired by fresh, seasonal ingredients to create a dish that blends the smokiness of snoek with the zing of the citrus ingredients, the spiciness of the chutney and the soothing coolness of the labneh.

Inspired by her experiences at the Worlds, Chef Veronica is planning to make the tapas-style evening menu at The Silo Hotel even more exciting. She’s determined to spread the word about South African cuisine – just as she did in Valladolid.  

We have everything we need to be seen and appreciated. We are only limited by our creativity – Chef Veronica

At the same time, she wants to further strengthen links between South Africa and Spain by collaborating with the Spanish Consulate to create a showcase of the two countries’ cuisine.

You can follow Chef Veronica’s ongoing tapas journey on Instagram, and on The Silo Hotel’s social media feeds.

Portrait images of Veronica Canha-Hibbert are by Getty Images and PJ Garcinuno

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