A Journey with Chef D

#fromthepass – Grilled springbok loin

CT Springbok

Chakalaka basted Swiss chard and grilled, morogo puree, braised pulled shank brinjal parcel, steamed brinjal rubbed with morogo puree and baked
Although we have always enjoyed springbok on menu in some shape or form, this popular chefs table dish is a combination of South African flavours and ingredients that comes from Dion’s inspiration eating from venders out side of huge factories in Jozi (pap, smilies (sheep head), morogo and chakalaka)”I still go and catch a lunch every chance I get when I’m in Jozi “

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#fromthepass – Ravioli

Ravioli B

At the chefs table we celebrate heritage a lot, small elements from chakalaka to corn find it’s way on our menu often.In this dish with Smoked chicken confit ravioli we added the sweet corn in three parts as a puree with green chilli, charred sweet corn and puffed, then we added a little chakalaka oil to finish and for texture crispy chicken skin.

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#fromthepass – Peppered duck, green guava and stone fruit salad with sprouts and sesame ginger dressing

Duck and Plum
One Dion’s favourite ingredients seasoned with two peppercorns, black and Szechuan. Now even better since we have been getting our whole ducks from Lou’s farm just below Sir Lowry’s pass. As Dion explains this is how he enjoys duck seasoned with peppercorns, bringing a balance to the fatty rich taste and explodes with duck flavour. “I immediately thought of using stone fruit when I walked into the vegetable fridge one afternoon and bit into a green peach then a green guava and it reminded me of when I was a kid and stole green peaches and apricots from our neighbours trees when they weren’t around and we would eat them with salt and chili powder as we played in the streets, this automatically scram at me and said use me with the pepper duck”
Featured on the chefs table as part of a journey in the kitchen.
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Laingsburg lamb on the menu


Lamb Loin, Kidney Jus, Spring Vegetables

On the menu this October a beautiful roasted Laingsburg lamb loin.

This lamb is always so tender and tasty because of the selection of shrub and pasture this time of the year. On this plate we decided to celebrate more than just the loin, but then neck and the kidneys. The neck has been slow braised and put into a little fried parcel, the kidneys we incorporated into the jus. Served with local green asparagus, broad beans, burnt onion puree and peas and pea shoots.


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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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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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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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