pasta8 (1)



This is one of those dishes that are so simple as long as if you do not have to make your own pasta.  The dough contains no egg with only flour, semolina and water and originates from Puglia. It is tricky process where a quick hand is required. Dough is rolled into a long cylinder then sliced with a sharp knife and at the same time ‘little ears’ are formed with the same knife being pulled across the pieces of dough to form little dome shaped pasta. Note that not all of them will look the same, the centre is softer than the thicker edges. If all this seems like too much work, dried, store-bought orrechiette will do just fine. This combination is always going to work, pasta, broccoli, bacon and Parmesan. Some recipes use peas, sausage in its origins rapini was used which is a lot more bitter.

Serves: 4-6

Difficulty: moderate
Preparation time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes

150 g bacon, diced
1 small chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 – 2 cloves garlic, crushed
200 g broccoli florets, blanched
¼ C (60 ml) white wine
¼ tsp (1.25 ml) lemon zest (optional)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) chopped parsley
1 tsp (5 ml) black pepper
400 g orrechiette, cooked
approximately 100 ml reserved liquid from cooking the pasta
finely grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


Sauté the bacon in a sauté pan until cooked and slightly browned. Add the chilli and garlic.
Add the broccoli florets and deglaze with white wine (it’s OK if the broccoli is slightly overcooked, as this will result in small pieces breaking off and sticking to the pasta). Add the lemon zest (if using).
As soon as the orrechiette is cooked, strain (retain the cooking liquid and set aside) and add to the bacon and broccoli mix.

Move the ingredients continuously in the pan, making sure that the mixture does not stick to the pan. Add some of the reserved pasta cooking liquid to loosen. Add the parsley and the crushed black pepper.

Adjust the seasoning and finish with parmesan before serving.


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The Cook Off

Cook-Off Cape Legends Inter Hotel Challenge (1)

The 14th & 15th saw the final two days in the Cape Legends Inter Hotel Challenge

The young chefs nervous and ready all started at 7:00. Nicholas never gets rattled, Tuesday morning we could see the nerves start showing as everyone started unpacking their ingredients at the kitchens at The International Hotel School. It was too late to back of now. Cooking in a strange new kitchen is not funny, nothing is familiar, fridges seem warm, gas is slow. With everyone watching, it is like being in a gold fish bowl, with everyone poking at the bowl.

By 12:00 all seven contestants presented their first six offerings, by now you could feel the excessive tension, no one was smiling, no one was laughing. In a competition like this judges generally take their time. It is exactly like cooking in a normal restaurant kitchen. All the youngsters forget this, we anticipate the curve ball every customer gives us. Yet at the competition they all seem to forget. The mains get picked up much later. By this time if your timing was out, disappointment was showing adding to the already charged environment.

Nicholas presented a great compilation that was a nice balanced meal any punter would have payed good money for, with smoked seabass starter, roulade of pork fillet and a beautiful and refreshing lemon and granadilla dessert.

Now in it’s fourth year all the results is compared from all the cook off’s. But we still have to wait for

All the work has been done, all the 21 judging sheets complete, all we can do is wait for the glamourous evening at the end of July. This year it will be held at the Belmond Mont Nelson Hotel

We will be holding thumbs for – Nicholas Loubser and for Edward Mtonga

Lastly we are rooting for the best bread section, as this title needs to stay at home.

Mount Nelson_May 2014_LR_056

Bread Selection



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Pancetta part two – Journey with Chef ‘D’


The basic recipe

 INGREDIENTS 5kg pork belly
100g black peppercorns whole
40g Juniper berries
100g garlic whole
30 bay leaves
20g thyme fresh
30g sage fresh
1kg salt coarse
1kg sugar granulated white

Toast peppercorns and juniper berries
Combine the toasted peppercorns and juniper berries with the herbs and garlic.
Pulse in a blender until coarse and combine with the salt and sugar.
Rub the cure mixture all over the pork belly.
Place in a tray and cover with a cheese cloth.
Allow to cure for 10 days. Gently remove the cure do not wash just rub off.
Damp the belly with a kitchen towel until relatively dry.
Place on a wire rack and allow to sit in the fridge for 24hrs until it dries out completely.
Portion the belly into 2 smaller pieces, tightly wrap the belly individually in cheese cloth.
Truss with butchers string. Hang for 6-8 weeks

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Finding Burger Part 9 – “Hunger is good discipline.”



I will be patient and experiment until we get this right. So after the last episode in making meatballs and using MSG. The words of my good friend Russel continuous to haunt me, “a true burger can only be judged if it has a bun(no sesame), well made patty, some lettuce and tomato with pickles served on the side” You see he is a bit of a purist when it comes to burgers. I understand his point, but for me there is more. Pickle and chutney needs form part of the layers of goodness. In my own personal case some chili will not hurt. It is also important to note that making it to complicated does mean that more variables are at stake.

In the next experiment we have broken down from the Beast from Ernest Hemmingway, as India Relish was used we experimented with a couple of different recipes found. Some had thickening agents others relied on the onion and tomato to aid with the thickening. All of the recipes that were made tasted similar, we enjoyed the spice elements, cinnamon, clove and mustard.

We made a burger replacing the tomato chutney and cucumber pickle with a combo recipe making our own India Relish. It tasted great on its own, but how would it taste on the Burger?

We cook the burger to perfection an omit the pickles as well as the chutney. With the first bite, some similarities….it does not taste that different from our own burger. As the Relish contains cucumber and tomato, sugar and vinegar, it was almost the same. On the second bite perhaps the vinegar taste is slightly over powering. But it is still damn good.

Sven will now start working a recipe based on the India Relish, using tomato, peppers, cucumber with the addition of brinjal.

Note to self: go hungry until after burger is tastings.

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Pancetta part one – Journey with Chef ‘D’

Pancetta 2


At the same time we received the cheeks we also received some beautiful pork belly. Eight weeks later we are in heaven, what beauties, both the smoked rolled as well as the flat pancetta will be great additions to the chef’s table experience.

But why experiment with pancetta? After all it is readily available almost anywhere. I think part is curiosity, part education, part understanding true quality. True quality in this art form can only be achieved with time. Often the products found on the shelf has not been made with the same care and the same time. The journey truly taught us that the difference is huge. We take for granted, the importance of time on true quality. Everything we want must happen quickly. This slow food will not succumb to the trap of time.

As we are doing both a rolled (arrotolata) as well as a flat (stesa) it gives us space to explore a multitude of potential recipes or just plain with bruschetta.




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Finding Burger Part 8 – It is not inside it is on top!


Wild West

 I do not think we will truly be happy, we can always find something in our burger that can be better. The last couple of months we have left the beast to be, not changing anything. It has not been because we have become complacent. It is more about the repeat experience, the set expectation. We want guest to return and have the same experience with every mouthful. So now we keep the experiments to the kitchen. This way I can eat a lot more burgers.

The only big change has been with the beef, as we try and stay true with grass fed beef, only this time we are adding Dexter, a smaller breed of cattle from Ireland. Nicole from Terra Madre brought us a sample, at first I was very sceptical as it was very lean. The colour dark and it reminded me of venison. In addition to trying different breeds we are also investigating adding a third cut to the mix, as the chuck and brisket are becoming increasingly popular in demand and in price. We have had some mixed results with the third and fourth additions. This might sound trivial, but in the end it does make difference to the end product, the texture, the mouth feel and the way it cooks.

As for the price of beef, I believe we will be in for a huge surprise later this year. The margins will get smaller and tighter. To make a good burger that one prides on self in is not a cheap trick, good quality ingredients come at a premium. The good thing about us is that we will not compromise.

I have been mulling with a new idea for some time now, after reading the article in SAVEUR- Magazine(July 2015), I saw a beautiful beast displayed on page 17, Ernest Hemingways wild-west burger. Many have written about this legendary recipe, it almost reminds me of a frikadelle. I wanted to understand it, a far cry from the burger I have been trying to perfect. I was surprised at the amount of ingredients in the patty, from India Relish to apple, cheese, MSG, celery salt to name a few. It made me think though, perhaps the answer lies in these individual seasonings and flavourings that can be used to enhance the bling.

As it is we are looking for the right pickle/chutney, the right balance of sweet, sour and spice so we are recreating our own India Relish to understand the balance, if my thought process is correct it could open the door to our chutney and pickles we are using. Then the MSG in the Mei Yen Powder, this is something I will need to look at not because of the MSG, but rather the umami it brings together. But where? Perhaps we could recreate a basting with some much umami it will drive us to edge of insanity.

Next spice used was called Beau Monde Seasoning this would also add to the more umami and savoury, unfortunately not available anywhere. We made our own, made up of celery, onion and salt with some sweetness. Other ingredients used in making the patty was ham, wine, cheddar, capers, apple, sage, garlic, egg, carrot and tomato. Sounds more like a drunk chef after a long day coming home very hungry and then squashing the pantry together as if a balanced meal between two buns was being created.

I want to create a burger based on the wild west beast but with all the ingredients stacked on top and not as part of the patty. I would probably not be the first to think of this, but we are still going to stack it up.

So how does it taste? Honestly….I do not know, slightly confusing. I like the balance of the sweet, sour and savoury all the flavours were amplified. If I was making a meatball I would most likely say it was great. As a semi purist I will stick to the pure beef patty.

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Kedgeree with trout

Serves – Depends on how hungry or hungover you are or enough for 4
No two recipes are the same. Loosely based on left-over cooked rice, spices, smoked fish and boiled eggs. Quick to make, great cure for a hangover and great for breakfast. Most recipes call for smoked haddock, as we do not get great haddock this side of the world we lightly smoked some of the tail end pieces of trout.


3 large eggs
600g Lightly smoked trout
400g cooked basmati rice
20g butter
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 clove garlic
1-2 tbsp curry powder (depends on strength
10 curry leaves (fresh if possible)
1 tbsp mustard seeds
2 chopped tomatoes
1 hand full fresh coriander , chopped
Juice from one lemon
125g plain yoghurt


Boil eggs for 7 -8 minutes and chill in ice water.
Season trout with a little curry and grill fish with a little oil, when almost cooked remove a set aside.
Place butter in sauce pan with onion, garlic, leaves and ginger, cook gently add mustard seeds then curry powder, releasing all the aromas add tomatoes with lemon juice.
Add Rice and continue to cook with lid so it can steam a little at the same time.
Add one grated egg, flaked fish – gently heat through. Top with half chopped coriander and halved eggs .
Add other half coriander into yoghurt.
Serve with limes, crisp fried onions, sliced fresh chillies and yoghurt

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Mackerel with wilted baby gem and a charred potato dressing

Crush Rudi14

Credit – Crush Online

Mackerel with wilted baby gem and a charred potato dressing

Fish choices have become a big challenge, as we are limited with choices. We try and buy responsible where possible. In many parts of the world mackerel has been fished beyond sustainable levels. We are still fortunate that we have access to mackerel for now. With an oily flesh, rich in omega-3 it make a great health choice as well as being great to cook on the open fire.

Yield: 4 people


2 whole mackerel, gutted and cleaned
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp course salt
2 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 small garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tsp apricots jam
Sprigs thyme
4tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp zest

2 heads baby gem lettuce washed
2 medium potato
120 ml olive oil
60ml lemon juice
½ tsp lemon zest
4 garlic cloves roasted
Salt as needed


Score mackerel on each side

Light fire
While the fire is working, place potato straight into fire and cook until soft, remove and allow to cool slightly.
Place 4 garlic cloves in foil with some olive oil and salt and roast close to the fire until soft, remove and mash roughly, combine with salt pepper and olive oil
Remove potatoes, cut in half and scoop out warm soft potato into a bowl, put aside.

Combine all marinade and basting ingredients.
Baste fish lightly place on grill.
Cook for about 5 minutes a side, check for doneness.
Remove, spoon remaining marinade over mackerel. Leave some basting for when the fish is finished.
While it is resting place lettuce on grill. Wilt on open fire edges will burn slightly.
Combine with lightly crushed potatoes, roasted garlic, lemon, olive oil and lemon juice


If you do not have a fire cook fish under the grill.

Time the fish takes to cook will be determined by the size and thickness.

The majority of our fish comes of a green list with a small percentage coming of the orange list set up by SASSI as a guideline to assist us in making correct choices. Between customer demands, supply, the weather and the green list we are sometimes left with small amount to choose from. Yes we do make mistakes with the odd fish coming from the wrong side of the list.

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And Thank You (sounds of silence)


a good year!

The lack of good reliable chefs, the shortage of solid available skills and constant staff shortages has received a lot of coverage in the past few months. We are no different as we suffer the same as any other kitchen. Filling spaces on the line has had its challenges. Soon we will have to relook the way we cook and design menu’s. We still continue the search for that sparkle in the eye.

But this story is not about finding the right person, this is about a group of individuals going beyond the call of duty, beyond the barrier of pain. We never mention the pain and the suffering we put our families through for a cause that we sometimes struggle to fully understand. It is hard when you never spend holidays with loved ones, but instead, you apron up next to fellow chefs for another service.

Last Christmas was no different to any other before, we were fully booked in every corner of the hotel, we know what is coming, we prepare, we are prepped to the ceiling and ready cook hard, really hard. But Christmas and the week that followed in 2015 was a new character test for me and my staff.

As we settled to start service in the main kitchen, the lights went out! We counted the seconds expecting the micros to start its spluttering again. Just echoes of silence. No one panicked as we have regular power failures, this was going to routine. Instead, scribblings on paper indicating orders for the night started appearing. With minimal light, we started scrambling for torches, candles it was going to be long night. News arrived that the main breaker blew up!

By 01:00 the sounds of silence echoed through our kitchen, the humour had left our systems, nothing was funny anymore, we could not see the end. Instead we saw darkness, seeing the faces of our fellow chefs might have discouraged us even more. By 2:00 all the refrigerated trucks were loaded. The critical foods were saved. Remember this was food for a week that we had to find cold storage for as all the suppliers were closed.

We went home way after our usual late night bed time, with the adrenaline still rushing through my system, bed had to wait. With a beer in hand I still had to process.

By five most of us were back to try and salvage what was left. After all it was Christmas day.

With every shift hand over we were all hoping for power, reality had not set in, as we realise that if the power had to come back on, it will still take two days to get to fifth gear and be able to do service in all areas.

Two days after Christmas we still had nothing but candle light and gas. Food still had to be served. It was while I sat in darkness after service, I realised how special my staff were. They were all at work, they all made Festive holidays a success. Our expectations remained high, they just continue to deliver.

I do not have the words to thank my staff for the effort and dedication working by candle light, with no ovens, moving produce back and forth, no extractors or light.

Not a single person complained, they all just simply pulled together with every plate and very buffet leaving the kitchen without visible effort. Our staff hid their pain in silence, silently wishing for an end to the madness.

Thank you to my chefs, commis and scullers. You gave more than what was reasonability expected. Thank you for being part of a great team and a great family. No one disappointed! Not only was this a low point, but a high point in my life as chef.

We were only to be back to full five days later. This is the second time in my life that I have experienced a powerless Christmas, but it feels

* Special Thanks to

Wynand at Extreem Kwizeen for bring through refrigerated trucks at 12:00 at night

Kerston Foods for additional refrigerated trucks

Schmidhauser for getting the power going

Woodstock bakery for sorting us with good bread

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Calling on South Africans to support #SAOlympicChef

Team SA_Olympic Group_low res

Cricket fans have the Proteas. Rugby fans have the Springboks. And South African food-lovers have a team of men and women in chef’s whites who will be flying the South African flag when they compete against over 40 nations in the IKA Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany, in October this year.

“The IKA Culinary Olympics is the oldest and most prestigious global culinary competition; an event that, like the sporting Olympics, takes place only once every four years. The South African National Culinary Team is honoured to participate once again. We have been hard at work for four years, fine-tuning and practicing our Olympic menu to prepare ourselves for one of the toughest challenges on the culinary calendar,” explains the manager of South African National Culinary Team, Heinz Brunner of Crown Outsourcing Consultants.

The chefs of the South African National Culinary Team are:

• Henrico Grobbelaar of Southern Sun The Cullinan
• Dion Vengatass of Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel
• Blake Anderson of 3SIXTY and Billy G, Montecasino
• Jerome Norton of Four Seasons, The Westcliff Hotel
• Kirstin Hellemann of Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel
• Minette Smith of HTA School of Culinary Art
• Arno Ralph of Lindt & Sprungli

SA Advisors to the team include Chef Garth Shnier, Executive Chef of Sandton Sun, Sandton Convention Centre and InterContinental Johannesburg Sandton and member of the World Association of Chefs Societies Culinary Guidelines Committee (advisor on competition rules, guidelines and cold kitchen).

Chef David Higgs, Chef Patron of Marble Restaurant (hot kitchen advisor); and Martin Kobald, owner of ChefMLK School of Cooking (international trends and judging).
In the spirit of the wording on the team emblem “Masakhane” – which means let’s build each other – the South African National Culinary Team is inviting the nation to follow their journey to the IKA Culinary Olympics on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram under their newly-launched hashtag #SAOlympicChef.

“A strong show of support and interest on social media by our fellow South Africans and foodies will give our team a tremendous boost towards bringing home the gold. Messages of encouragement should include the hashtag #SAOlympicChef,” adds Brunner. The South African National Culinary Team brought back a gold medal in the Hot Kitchen section in 2008 – the first gold to be won by South Africa in 16 years. In the same year, the South African National Culinary Team was awarded the official South African team status by the Department of Arts and Culture’s Bureau of Heraldry.

The 2016 Culinary Olympics will take place from 22 to 25 October in Erfurt, Germany, with about 40 countries competing. The teams will have five-and-a-half hours to prepare their three-course menus to serve 110 people.

The South African National Culinary Team’s Olympic menu features:
Starter: Cape Crayfish ‘Malay’ – poached crayfish, pressed carrot terrine, carrot mayonnaise and Malay curry sauce.
Main Course: Springbok ‘Masakhane’ – pan-roasted loin of springbok, rolled veal sweetbreads, red cabbage and cider purée, savoy cabbage and Boulangére potato.
Dessert: Textured Splash of Raspberry, Rose, Coconut & White Chocolate – coconut sand, coconut sorbet, coconut sponge, rose jelly, rose meringue, raspberry mousse, and raspberry jelly.

In mid-March, the South African National Culinary Team prepared their menu for a group of celebrities, media, bloggers and foodies, who continue to share news about the team and their various activities on their different social media platforms. The team’s itinerary leading up to the Olympics in October includes displaying the cold table at Food & Hospitality Africa expo at Gallagher Convention Centre on 3 May; on 20 June the team will be preparing a by-invitation-only dinner for 110; on 18 July, the Team will be preparing another by-invitation-only dinner for 110 at the Mount Nelson Hotel; and finally the team practice concentrating on the Cold Table will take place on 19 and 20 September respectively.

“We are going to the Olympics as proud ambassadors of South Africa and representatives of a great heritage of culinary excellence in this country,” says Brunner. “We will put in all the necessary hours to do our country proud – and we’re delighted at the growing support we are getting from people within the culinary industry and from the general public. It’s inspiring!”

The South African National Culinary Team will be participating in the IKA Culinary Olympics under the auspices of the South African Chefs Association. Their participation has been made possible through the generous sponsorship of headline sponsor LSC/Imperial, along with accommodation partner the City Lodge Hotel Group and partners ChefWorks, Turn ‘n Slice and N1 Restaurant Suppliers.

The official press statement can be downloaded here.

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