V&A’s food theatre concept gets R63m investment

BREAKING NEWS: by Louise Burgers. The V&A Waterfront will launch a food theatre concept, Maker’s Landing, at the Cape Town Cruise Terminal area, this December.

by Louise Burgers. The V&A Waterfront will launch a Food Theatre concept, Maker’s Landing, at the Cape Town Cruise Terminal area, this December following a R63 million investment in partnership with the National Treasury’s Jobs Fund, which is putting up R15m to the V&A’s R48m to develop the new food neighbourhood. The mega-retail and entertainment tourism hub fast-tracked development to ensure it can open in December 2020, when it is hoped international tourism will resume. Speaking to Retailing Africa, Donald Kau, head of communications for the V&A Waterfront, said the primary aim of the new development is to showcase South African food culture and local produce to the world – while creating much needed jobs.

The V&A Waterfront is calling for applications from small food businesses, entry-level to top chefs, food producers and “everyone in between”. The V&A says that in addition to obvious talent, the team of curators and food experts, will focus on choosing “authentic South African foods and diversity, quality and freshness, variety of flavours, ethical and local sourcing, and affordability and value”. This will all be linked to ensuring job creation and sustainability. The goal is for it to be a food talent incubator, an experimental maker space, a sustainable and diverse opportunity to showcase as-yet unknown talent and South African cuisine; while making it affordable and accessible to all South Africans too, not just international tourists.

Artist’s rendition.

It will be a real-food experience, said Kau. “It is primarily a food incubator idea to test food concepts and eventually to take it to a commercial level, so the foodpreneurs can move into food retail spaces, like our Food Market. How it will work is that we will have our foodpreneurs surrounded by food suppliers, fresh produce; and access to a demo kitchen surrounded by other food talent to collaborate or learn from.”

Jumpstarting the local tourism market as well as catering for international tourists, is important, added Kau. “What we also want to see is food priced at an accessible level. It’s a Chef’s Table concept, but available to everyone – from the dock workers who bring in the fish; to international tourists wanting to sample unique South African flavours.”

Kau told Retailing Africa that they wanted the best of South African food – everything from bunny chow and vetkoek to top wines. And yes, he laughed, possibly even a smiley (sheep’s head/tripe). It all depends on the concept. To this end, the V&A will next week begin aggressive marketing to attract food talent and suppliers to start curating the offering ahead of the December launch. The space at the cruise ships terminal at the working end of the harbour is expected to be completed by September.

Open up trade
Donald Kau.

“During lockdown we have had time to review our projects and indications are that markets are opening up internationally and cruise businesses are indicating a desire to come. We have to prepare for a world post-Covid; and here is an opportunity to reinforce Cape Town’s position in the market and the South African brand. The investment is there, we had planned for it. So, we decided to go ahead. We are hopeful that the tourists will come – we don’t operate in isolation to other markets. Pressure will come across all international regions to open up trade. We have to create jobs again that excite locals about opportunities that are there. This is a good positive build to restore confidence in the market.”

The V&A averages 24 million visitors a year, of which 65% of that are international tourists. Before global lockdown due to the Covid pandemic, the V&A Waterfront and Cape Town were set to have a bumper tourism season for 2020, with 52 cruise ship stopovers planned – almost double the usual number, Kau said. “We would have had 100,000 cruise ship visitors this year, before Covid. A record.” Another target group will be the 23,000 people who work at the Waterfront – from office workers to retail staff – and delivery options will be available too.

According to the press release from the V&A, when it is complete, Makers Landing will add a further 4,348m2 to the existing cruise terminal developed by the Waterfront in 2015 for Transnet. The original terminal was a small industrial building on the edge of E-Berth that served as a pre-cooling facility for fruit exports, whereas today passengers from cruise ships are greeted by a state-of-the-art facility. “Maker’s Landing will be an inspiring, edgy space for new food concepts and ideas to flourish in the spectacular setting of an active port, with its dramatic backdrop of Table Mountain. It will capture the rich story of South African cultures, foods, flavours and food producers for locals to enjoy and for visitors to discover. We are repurposing what was a cold storage facility into a food incubator that will generate in excess of 150 much needed jobs and will build connections between foodpreneurs,” reported V&A Waterfront CEO,  David Green.

Added Kau: “This will be a space for people who love to cook. A space that celebrates South African food culture. It may be people working from home with innovative ideas; or people tired of baking banana bread! Diversity is especially important to us – we don’t want to replicate what is already available in the Cape Town CBD. During lockdown we have seen real innovation with people figuring out how to make and deliver food. This is all about exciting the taste buds and people walking in to get excited about watching food prep.”

Celebrating beautiful things
Artist’s rendition.

During lockdown, the V&A team launched a campaign ‘100 Beautiful Things’, celebrating South African art and design – not just that found at the V&A, but around South Africa; and also started a series of webinars focusing on food, art and design. The new Food Theatre space at the cruise ship terminal will certainly have one of the best views of the commercial harbour and the cruise ships docked there. Phase one will be on the ground floor, and all the normal post-Covid safety and food regulations will apply. The V&A was recently awarded its international Covid tourism certification.

It is hoped that the ‘360o farm-to-fork food experience’ will be a catalyst for job creation and help the restaurant industry and Cape Town’s food culture recover after the economic devastation of prolonged lockdown and restrictive regulations; and spur further innovation in the fresh food sector. Small start-ups and suppliers of food will work alongside experienced players, and in this way, they will gain first-hand knowledge from watching and learning from them – providing a much-needed start in the industry.

In keeping with Cape Town’s historical roots as a Tavern of the Seas, the new space is being developed as part of the Cape Town Cruise Terminal, the V&A team noted. It has always been the V&A’s goal to preserve the heritage of the area, so from the outset the development team aimed to incorporate the gritty, industrial fabric of the harbour into the development, while enhancing the marine experience. Backing onto the Cruise Terminal’s Departures Hall, Makers Landing retains the existing structure that dates back to the 1920s and its original harbour warehouse aesthetic. The building is a mere 15m from the quay edge, so glass windows will allow visitors to relax in restaurants as they watch ships enter and leave the harbour, and cruise ships dock at the quayside in front of them, the press release outlined.

There will be a shared incubator kitchen, as well as:

  • A Demo Kitchen where food lovers can congregate to listen to, be inspired by, and engage with culinary experts, innovators, industry specialists and chefs.
  • Eight Maker Stations with world-class amenities where visitors can watch diverse products being freshly prepared and can interact with the makers. The mix of producers will include a butcher, baker, cheese maker, fishmonger, coffee roaster, wine maker and a gin distiller.
  • A working Food Market housing 35 flexible market stands stocking the freshest local ingredients and food products. As with the Incubator Kitchen, the Food Market aims to empower emerging and small-scale farmers to grow their businesses through mentorship and through networking with other food industry players at Makers Landing.
  • Eight small co-op eateries.
  • Five anchor restaurants of varying size

Restaurateurs, small foodpreneurs and food producers can get further information about the space available at Makers Landing by visiting and downloading the application form.


Louise Burgers (previously Marsland) is the Publisher and Editor and Co-Founder of She has spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global gamechanger in the next decade.

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