A Journey with Chef D

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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Guanciale part five – Bucatini all’Amatriciana


The ingredients

Here we go again, so many variations, so many so called original recipes each with a very viable true original stories. But on this one I am going to stick to just tomato, guanciale and pecorino …I might consider adding wine and olive oil. This sauce is supposed to be simple, with a peasant heritage originating from the town of Amatrice. The ingredients used in the sauce is a reflection of what was available in the area. In some areas it is prepared without the addition of tomato, but it is the tomato sauce that makes it special. If you cannot get bucatini (thick spaghetti with a hole running through the centre get spaghetti.

It must be noted that in some recipes garlic and onion is added, this distracts and disguises the tomato flavour. The addition of a little black pepper needs to be added while some believe it is a little chili instead that should be added.

20ml extra-virgin olive oil
150g guanciale, cut into cubes
60ml white wine
425g whole peeled tomatoes crushed,
Freshly ground black pepper
400g dried bucatini pasta
40g grated Pecorino
40g Pecorino shaved or grated for serving

Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add guanciale, until lightly browned.
Add wine and cook until almost evaporated and pan deglazed
Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer leave the seeds, I like to add a little water or stock to help the sauce along.
Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper, add a little extra to give a bite.
Boil pasta in salted water until just short of al dente, remove and put into sauce with about 50 ml of pasta liquid.
Continue to cook in sauce until al dente, the sauce would have thickened slightly. Remove and add cheese.

Season and serve with extra cheese.


Bucatini all’Amatriciana

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Guanciale – Carbonara – part four – Journey with chef ‘D’


Simple Ingredients for Carbonara

For our chefs table dish we are making a home-made linguini with a Carbonara sauce, I was brought up believing that it must have smoky delicious bacon in the sauce and with-out it, it was not worth it. Of course this was bastardised form many versions of the original, probably because pancetta or guanciala was not available, but that is not the only part, as a youngster cooking in my mothers kitchen we added lots of cream, which is also an insult to this great classic, I think the only thing we got right was the addition of the egg and pepper not even the garlic and parsley I loved in the sauce was correct.

For this recipe the linguini was rolled slightly thicker so it almost resembled a spaghetti

Pecorino should be used instead of parmesan

This recipe is for four small portions

80g cubed guanciala

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large eggs
50g grated pecorino plus extra for serving
Fresh ground black pepper
3 tbsp Cooking liquid
1 small garlic clove – at own risk
1 tsp chopped parsley – at own risk

250g home-made linguini


Bring water to boil, add salt
Over moderately high heat. Cook guanciala in olive oil until slightly coloured and fat has rendered but still soft, this is where some recipe differ as some people believe the pork must cooked until crisp. I keep the rendered fat in the pot when adding the pasta, but if you find it excessive pour some off.

Boil linguini in salted water and cook to al dente, then drain. Reserve some of the liquid.

In a bowl whisk the eggs, reserved cooking liquid add grated pecorino with black pepper

Pour linguini into pot with guanciala, remove from the heat and add the egg mixture and stir to combine thoroughly until all the pasta is coated. It is very easy to make a mess of this if done on the heat, turning the lush creaminess into scrambled eggs.

Serve immediately with extra helping of pecorino and pepper and enjoy


We present- Carbonara!

Next we will have to make another sauce, that demands the addition guanciala, a simple sauce not disguised with herbs, onion and garlic – Amatriciana




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Guanciale Part Three – Journey with chef “D”



Guanciale hanging around!

Just hanging around!

So in preparation for the final dish which is going to be a linguini with a carbonara sauce we are deciding for how long we need to dry the cheeks, what is the ideal time? It is a fine balance having that concentrated flavour vs a soft cheek that has not been dried to long. As this is the first time we are making Guanciale in this kitchen, we will have to feel our way through this process. We have only had about a 15% weight loss, with a great weather report in the room at 16 -17 °C, ideal air circulation.

Up to now the curiosity has killed us, it has been over two weeks since we started. With the cheeks wrapped in cheese cloth, suspended from the ceiling we continue to wait another week


I can not wait – Guanciale


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Guanciale Part Two – Journey with chef “D”

Smelling Guanciale

Smelling Guanciale

Oh what a smell, after one week in the cure we smelled the cured cheek and the excitement was killing us, we had to taste it. What a taste, I was ready to cook, next we will be dry aging, by hanging them in the butcher for the next couple of weeks. We tried something slightly different in the cure this time adding wood chips, one to see how much of the taste would be influenced and to see how much liquid it would soak from the cure.

In this recipe we have added more fragrant herbs and spices than would be necessary, but then we are on a special journey making guaciale, we want this jowl to be extra special.


4 pork cheeks whole cleaned and trimmed
100g black peppercorns whole
40g sichuan peppercorns whol
100g garlic whole
30 bay leaves
20g thyme fresh
10g rosemary fresh
1kg salt coarse
500g sugar granulated white
5g pink salt


Toast the peppercorns.
Combine the toasted peppercorns with the herbs and garlic.
Pulse in a blender until coarse.
Combine the coarse mixture with the salt and sugar.
Rub the cure mixture all over the pork cheeks.
Allow to cure for 5-7 days depending on how thick the pillows are.
Gently remove the cure do not wash just rub off.
Place on a wire rack and allow to sit in the fridge for 24hrs until it dries out completely.
Tightly wrap the cheeks individually in cheese cloth.
Truss with butchers string.
Hang in cool place for 1 -3 weeks

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Guanciale – Journey with chef “D”


Guanciale curing



We are always looking for new and exciting suppliers and products. These two go hand and hand.

“The product is the only truth and the only star of the kitchen, not the cook, whose sole task is to enhance it and respect the truth” (Chapel/Ducasse)

Without a great supplier we will never have great products. These people essentially form part and is an extension of our kitchen team. As in my kitchen the most important philosophy and rule, is to respect the ingredient.

So last week we received three beautiful pig heads from Terra Madre, this always creates as stirs excitement. What are we going to make? Consensus was reached, Chef D will be making cheese head and with the cheeks for an extra special treat, Guanciale!

The first thing that comes to my mind is, Carbonara. The journey of this beautiful story and will be told over the next couple of weeks as Chef D looks and takes us through the process from start to finish, when we present our final dish at the Chef’s Table.

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