Taneale Juanita Van der Merwe is the only female in the World Class's National Finals this year. She will be competing in the World Class National Finals at the end of June this month against 9 other top bartenders in South Africa for the title of South Africa’s Top Bar Tender for 2019 and the chance to compete in Global Finals to be held in Glasgow later on this year.
Meet Taneale, she was born and bred in the dusty old mining town that is Johannesburg. At the moment she currently "Hail’s from the vale" as some would say, but actually stay up the road in Greenstone in the East of Johannesburg.
She is 22 years old and has a BSC in biological sciences degree majoring in human physiology and environmental sciences. She is an extremely curious person who has always been multi-passion driven and it is because of this, that she juggles roughly three jobs simultaneously within the hospitality industry. She love’s meeting new people and craves learning new things and gaining a variety of experiences.
The world is full of extraordinary entities, be it people, travel, places or animals; and with her ambitious nature, she aims to gain all she can while she still can.
1. Personally, I don't find that women are necessarily lacking in the industry, just that we are often placed on the wrong side of the bar and I have opened up the conversation with many operators "why not hire female bartenders?" and many of the current stigma responses I've received have honestly appalled me such as "They can't lift heavy items" or can't stay on their feet for long" or "They talk too much" or "Are too emotional"....infuriating.
2. In the competitive cocktail arena, specifically in South Africa, it is very male dominated however the last two global world class champions were women and I don't think many people, let alone women, see a career within or surrounding bartending and henceforth don't stay in the hospitality industry very long.
3. The bar family is very welcoming, accommodating and willing to train/mentor and help up and coming bartenders if you show them a genuine interest in the craft and there are some AMAZING women in the industry from brand managers, to bartenders, winemakers, distillers and so on.
4. What is great about being a female bartender is that we also know the struggles women go through on a night out. Sometimes all a girl wants is to relax, have some cocktails party and go home without the worry or stress that comes with being a woman in today's society having to watch our drinks not getting spiked or getting hit on by creeps who won’t take no for an answer. I personally take pride in taking extra care of the ladies who visit me at any of the bars and looking after them wherever they may visit me.
5. I don't think many people realize the potential that comes with working in such a vastly varied industry, one can reach enormous heights working as brand ambassadors, evolving into Distillers, becoming heads of marketing, begin to do training for companies or to even opening up a bar of your own one day.
6. With the above in mind, I think it’s important to not underestimate bartending as a career choice, someone has to do it. I think the big thing that irks me is the question "When are you getting a real job?". Bartending IS a real job! To quote the classic Dead Poet's Society, "Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, and these
are what we stay alive for". It’s similar to the negative stigma of becoming a teacher or plumber, who would teach your children or deal with your blocked drains? Any profession is worth having around!
7. I think a great factor that is missing in the industry itself is the lack of mentorship and those whole are willing to take on the responsibility of mentoring someone. Mentoring is not only about training someone for a week or two and then checking in once in a while it’s about consistency and constantly being a work in progress but also adding value to the lives of their mentees in other aspects and taking a genuine interest in their well-being.