World Class Top 10: national finalist Taneale Juanita Van der Merwe

Taneale Juanita Van der Merwe
Taneale Juanita Van der Merwe

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born and bred in the dusty old mining town that is Johannesburg. I'm 22 years old and have a BSC in biological sciences degree majoring in human physiology and environmental sciences. I'm an extremely curious person who has always been multi-passion driven and it is because of this, that I juggle roughly three jobs simultaneously within hospitality industry. I love meeting people and crave learning new things and gaining a variety of experiences. The world is full of extraordinary entities, be it people, travel, places or animals; with my ambitious nature I aim to gain all I can while I still can.

Why bar tending? 

I actually fell into bartending by chance, I initially started by helping out a friend at the Ultra festival and from there on continued to do the odd festival here and there. Then after finally deciding to be an 'adult', I was on a job hunt and a close friend of mine sent me a Molecular Bars advertisement and that is where it all began. Since then my jobs seem to be accumulating as now I work for Molecular Bars, Lions Head Beverage Company and The Little Fox Cocktail Bar. I think the greatest aspect of bar tending for me is the meeting the vast amount of people and creating so many friendships both in and out of the industry, I guess its all about the experience and learning that you can gain.

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Who inspires you?

I have two people that I consider to be my mentors. First it's Captain Gareth Wainwright who is an absolute legend within the industry and to say the least he is my Mr Miagi, Master Yoda and so much more to me this young padawan who still has so much more learning to do. The amazing thing about our Captain is that he aims to better us as people in the world and not just numbers on his payroll, he teaches us everything he can whether it be Finances, to bar tending techniques, life lessons and more. Second is Chantelle Horn who is the BrandAmbassador at Lions head beverage company, she is nothing short of extraordinary being someone who too looks after me as a human being in this world and has only my best interests at heart.

What do you love about the World Class competition?

I actually entered on a whim as this is my first as thing my first competition ever and I am extremely grateful and surprised as to how far I come within the competition of Diageo World Class. I must say if anything this little episode of my life has been a great teacher and going against the best of the best in the cocktail industry has been daunting to say the least. What I love most about world class are the experiences that I've gained whilst taking part in the competition as well as meeting all the great people along the way. The adrenaline coupled with anxiety rush is great and titles are always fun to add to resumes but pushing yourself creatively, mentally to achieve anything in the competition is no different to running a marathon or climbing a mountain: You'll always surprise yourself as to what you are capable of when you give it your all. 

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If you could have one cocktail for the rest of your life, which one would it be? 

This is an extremely difficult question as I, find it difficult to have any favourites. I wouldn't necessarily have a particular cocktail for the rest of my life but if I had to have one last cocktail it would be the Corpse Reviver No.2. This cocktail will truly bring you back from the dead as well as give you some personality to boot. A balanced drink that is just as bright as the stars above yet brings you back to earth like smack in the face. 

Which cocktail describes who you are, best? 

The Sazerac, this cocktail is short, spicey, potent with a kiss of absinthe and it confuses many people because it is not served with ice.

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