Fedhasa Cape Sustainable Restaurant Cook-off Champion 2019

The Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (FEDHASA) recently challenged members to a cook off in partnership with WWF-SASSI in a mystery box cook-off that was held at Cape Town Hotel School in Granger Bay.

We have championed sustainable fish choices for years, it has been a challenge we have had with ourselves, at one point I asked SASSI to remove me form their trailblazer list, as we could not follow the list 100%. We made mistakes, not often, but we felt guilty. After discussions with SASSI our minds were put to rest, as it is not following the list 100%, but rather working at making better choices over all, educating others in making better choices. We are still saddened when we see all the crayfish leave or shores to foreign destinations, tourism suffers from this.

In our kitchen we have adopted the same traffic light system used by SASSI (South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) instead of following the guidelines by SASSI our policy and guidelines provide guidance in terms of how much green, orange or red listed species we are allowed to buy in a calendar year. It also gives us guidance in how much fish may be imported. We have included the importance of buying only MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) approved suppliers if we buy from abroad.

Within our guidelines we have given ourselves room for mistakes, as species are sometimes mistakenly labelled, we have also in the past used fish when we have had no other choices from the red list, but we have within our policy allowed for less than one percent of our yearly purchases for this.

The objective for the cook off that was to create awareness around sustainable food choices and to cook creatively with using basic ingredients supplied. Chefs are the driving force in making the decision on what is placed on menus, these choices ultimately influence consumers. If consumers are informed, then chefs will make better choices.
With this cook off each captain was given a team of chefs they have never worked with before and a challenging selection of fish to work with, frozen hake, frozen half shell mussels, frozen calamari rings, frozen sliced smoked salmon. Initially we were thrown by the frozen selection, but then the thought downed on me, what if this is the only choices we have in the future…
With only 45min we were given the task of coming up with a great dish showcasing our talents but also highlighting sustainable choices.
As we did not know each other, you do not know the strengths of the members, we were lucky as our team quickly established duties and tasks, we clicked and we could decide on a basic menu and strategy.
As the items were previously frozen we had to come up with a dish that would mask the frozen fish.
For the hake we made a flavoured brine with fennel, pepper corns and ginger. The hake was left to brine for 10 minutes before dusting the skin in flour and sesame and pan frying in butter with garlic, ginger and chili.
The mussels were removed from the shells and added to a curry sauce with calamari and offcuts of hake. The smoked salmon was mixed with spinach, cream cheese and put into a tortellini and tossed in butter to finish.TEAM SASSI FEDHASASASSI FEDHASA COOK OFF

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The Golden Vine Award at De Wetshof and the Celebration of Chardonnay, 9 November 2018.

Every second year we look forward to a day of chardonnay, it is not an ordinary day because everything else gets cancelled to ensure attendance, and only a hand full of people get invited from the food and wine industry.

The day is filled with celebration, and for good reason, chardonnay of course.

Two years ago I had one of the best tasting experiences ever, as the part of that day older vintages were celebrated. With a 1997 Thelema Chardonnay and a 1993 De Wetshof Finesse Chardonnay, these did not only stand out, they were notable because these wines aged beautifully and tasted far beyond my expectation. These wines still showed freshness and complexity.

I could not wait to return.


Tanya Liebenberg, Danie De Wet, Louise Jardine, Wine Fairy, Rudi Liebenberg and George Jardine

This year was no different as the panel of wine makers each shared stories about the vine, the soil and chardonnay. We tasted fantastic chardonnays with the panel going through four flights for breakfast. With stories of the Judgement of Paris from key note speaker Steven Spurrier, this was a highlight, the man is a legend. We then continued with the remaining 28 chardonnay choices for lunch. The problem is that one never gets to taste all.

This year was made even more special as I was the recipient of the 2018 Golden Vine Award, an honour bestowed on a leading South African chef during the De Wetshof Celebration of Chardonnay. Awarded to a chef for his or her contribution to the country’s cuisine in the food and wine legacy.

I am humbled by this award and being associated with the De Wetshof family as well as the celebration of chardonnay with good food.

Johann De Wet with Rudi Liebenberg

Johann De Wet with Rudi Liebenberg

“Since the advent of the Celebration of Chardonnay 14 years ago, the Golden Vine Award has become known as one of the industry’s leading honours. To have it bestowed on at one of the country’s leading wine events is a highlight in my career.”

Previous recipients of the Golden Vine include Garth Stroebel, Luke Dale-Roberts, Peter Veldsman and Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen.


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The JHP Gourmet Guide 2019. One plate award.


For the third year we have been included in the JHP Guide 2019, and for the second year we have retained our one plate rating at the chefs table. When we talk about having guests in our kitchen it is bringing them into our happy space, and it shows. It is about the stories and the passion when the young chefs talk about the food when they present each dish, you are in their home.

View From Kitchen with space for 15

This year the JHP Gourmet Guide featured 25 restaurants, each receiving a plate rating. Four restaurants receiving three plate award, 8 two plate award with 13 restaurants receiving one plate rating.

We are once again proud of our team for the one plate rating for excellent cuisine. Congratulations to my Chefs Table Team for the contribution towards serving great food and maintain a high standard.

One plate rating award is given to restaurants for excellent cuisine.

Two plates, for exceptional dining that demands a detour.

Three plates – awarded for world-class destination dining worthy of a flight, was awarded to four restaurants which included The Greenhouse, La Colombe, Restaurant Mosaic and the The Test Kitchen.

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WASTED – Announcement!

Leafy Waste2

Yesterday was a truly special day, so I have replaced this week’s post on kimchi with this short story .
We prepared our first wasted lunch at the chefs table yesterday, with all the dishes prepared from rejected, wasted and shunned produce. Five courses of pure genius from my team. I think the most important message is that nothing was new, but the level of respect for the ingredient was evident, food has become cheap and we have forgotten how to use everything, forgotten how to cook like we should, everyone can take the best parts and be creative. But the unwanted always suffer. With the menu we served some homemade kombucha and pineapple cordial. We started the lunch with “all things crispy “ from leaves to skin and tendons served with whipped beef fat flavoured with mushroom powder. The next course was made up with using the outer leaves from lettuce to make a cold soup served with charred leek picked from the greener parts. The fish course was beautiful and fresh, a tartare of trout scraped and removed from all the bones with a tempura of confit trout removed from the collar finished with a pickled lemon skin salsa.
The chicken course should read carcase and spaghetti, but what we served was a parcel made from blended spaghetti made into a dough filled with meat from the roasted carcase in a chicken veloute. With some crispy bits skins from chicken skin and parmesan skin.
Dessert was simply orange rind that essentially was made into a marmalade and then turned into a ice cream served on a croissant pudding.
Look out for a truly remarkable experience at our chef’s table only on Saturdays for lunch where we will be showcasing a wasted menu and sharing experiences and stories from and in our kitchen.

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Kom ons Braai! (lets BBQ)



Kom ons Braai! (lets BBQ)

Last season we featured a BBQ menu on Saturdays at the Oasis. As we liked it so much we have continued this season with this very “lekker” idea. Cooking from the fire with the required braai staples like, vetkoek, braai broodtjies, snoek, potjie with mussels or oxtail, biltong, boerewors, ribs, peri-peri chicken, rib eye and corn on the cob. We have not skipped on the cold selection which is a meal of its own that requires a person to slow down, relax and enjoy a very long extended lunch sipping on an ice cold craft beer.

As long as the weather plays along there will be smoke and fire every Saturday until the end of April.

Price is set at R395

For further information or to make a booking please phone (021) 483-1000 and ask for restaurant reservations or e-mail:


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Restaurant Week 2017


Beef Carpaccio with beef tendons and oxtail

Starting tomorrow, fifth year Anniversary! October 19th – November 5th 2017.
This years menu
Starters, Beef carpaccio with twist, we have added some extra beefy bits with crispy fried beef tendons and pulled oxtail fried in a pokora batter served with a spiced chick pea puree.
For the main course we are serving a poached sea bass with coal cooked potatoes and a mussel velouté, with seaweed and grilled tender stem broccoli.
and to finish we have combined a couple of interesting flavours with popcorn, miso, Tonka beans and sencha tea.
R400 per person, for more information go online at

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Memories of Chefs Who Share

My three favourite Sommeliers

My three favourite Sommeliers


With each Facebook connection, a notifications pops up, an anniversary, a reminder of events one year ago, it was to be the last. At the time we did not know, but a year later a sad reality.

2016 was the first year I would not and could not cook, with an Achilles injury caused by one to many silly jumps to the left. This gave me an unique opportunity to observe the whole commotion as an outsider, which in itself is a very hard thing to observe as a chef with limited movement, for me it was like watching the heart beat during open heart surgery being performed by a team of masters.

When you work as a chef on a project as big as chefs who share, you want to give everything, you want to leave that final personality that final piece of yourself on the plate. This is not a small function, on this night each set of chefs might be cooking for 36 people, with seven different menu’s born from the creativity from fourteen very gifted chefs, it is intimidating as boundaries are stretched and rules broken…. One step beyond…as I watched the chaos as I was perched on my bar stool I was slightly over come with a sense of jealousy but also one of pride. Chefs come together in place unfamiliar and share their time, share art and leave visions of emotions on a plate for something bigger than themselves. It is unconditional.

The art of giving was born from a conversation in 2013 while at a diner prize giving with a room full of chefs and press, I was fortunate enough to be seated next to my old friend Bertus and on the other side was Barbara Lennard. As we were catching up and sharing stories about giving and sharing, the discussion on the night went around the possibility of doing an event that was big, the rest is history. The seed was planted and we needed water, lots of it.

Over a four year period we saw how the event got bigger, the first three years in Cape Town and last year Johannesburg. Always in the heart of the city, making City Hall look glamorous as it should.

Every year new chefs joined, for some it was a reunion, for some a new experience and in some way a little intimidating. We are extremely blessed in South Africa, having such talented people, talented chefs, wine makers and sommeliers.

The process with creativity is vicious, with each chef removed from their kitchens and placed in an environment of basic functionality changes chef changes the animal. Each chef is given the opportunity of the basic operating equipment to make the event work. If you know this animal the boundaries and limitations will be broken. They want to give more than just a plate a food, it is a show an experience. So bugger the basic, they will cart everything including the kitchen sink across country to show what true hospitality is all about.

As the afternoon progressed plates, bowls and glasses of different sizes get unpacked. This is a show after all. With this Paco jets, thermos mixes, smoking guns and sous vide baths all in the name of sharing.  Silly bunch if you think about it, I thought so. But not really, if you consider that when ones writes seven menus the personality of 28 dishes must be given life for all to see and enjoy, part of this creative process goes far beyond just giving parameters of what plate that must be used. The thought process of a chef does not live in a box. Food is experienced because we love the taste, smell, sound and most of all the thought process behind the creativity bringing all the elements together that makes sharing food memories.

As the night started and guests started filling the magnificent hall, we were informed that proceedings were running late!  It was a mean itinerary. We had to catch 20 minutes of lateness. This night is jam packed and co-ordination of chefs, sommeliers and artists is essential to a good nights entertainment.

As I hobbled from kitchen to kitchen and station to station, one cannot avoid to notice the skill and time each chef gave and display on their plates, nothing is half baked. Each starter is so different with personality shining on every plate. As we wait for our call, random guests and fans come into the kitchen for quick photo and chat with their favourite chefs. The level of anxiety is high  as each set of eyes stare back at me, waiting……

The aboyer(that would be me) barks for a pickup of starters …..15minutes, seven brigades shift in to gear and the noise levels increase, finishing touches engaged and the focus immediate. You never notice this when you are cooking next to Bertus, Gregory, Chantel, Margot, Chris or George, as we all busy at that moment. And when the last starter leaves we would continue bantering again, just as we did before and just as we would in our own kitchens.

The waiters start lining up dressed in purple aprons while each sommelier starts pouring one of 28 wines for the evening. It is just people everywhere as food leave the kitchen, guided by a chef, table by table as descriptions are given at each table of each dish. It is chaotic, but also organised at the same moment.

When all of this happens you realise the moment and the sense of the occasion. As all of us joined in a common goal in giving at that exact moment we chose to be there to be part of a great event.

As the night draws to a close the true magnitude of what each chef has contributed is realised, as they clean and pack away. Some enjoy a glass of wine and we say our farewells till next time.

It is hard to understand why we keep on coming back, because it is hard, it is not glamourous cleaning up after twelve at night, and tomorrow we are back at our respective jobs and life caries a on. As chefs in South Africa we are very privileged working with beautiful food. Everyday we get to experience smells and tastes and sharing our experiences with others is in small part what keeps us going.

It hard to choose a favourite dish or a favourite chef. But standing outside the circle gives a different perspective to all the madness.

Thank you to all the chefs who contributed and gave up their time, thank you to all the sommeliers for sharing their knowledge, all the wine makers giving, sharing wines  and the artist who donated beautiful pieces. Thank you to the sponsors who gave generously to make it possible. Lastly thank you to the guests for supporting the art in giving and sharing. It will be missed.


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…and the Best Main Course this years DISTELL INTER HOTEL CHALLENGE!

Marcus being presented with best main course prize

Marcus being presented with best main course prize

In its 5th year the awards evening was held at the Southern Sun Cape Sun.
With a room filled with hoteliers, chefs and sommeliers from the Hotel industry.
We are proud to announce to – Best Main Course: Marcas Hendry from “Belmond Mount Nelson”

Marcas Hendry is of Scottish and Irish decent. He is only just starting his career in the culinary industry at the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel. He grew up traveling South East Asia with his mother and it was there that he fell in love with food and the emotions it evokes and inspires. He says “Every time I cook, I seek to recreate the sensory enlightenment once experienced as a child with no love for anything other than pasta and Heinz tomato sauce. I hope one day to be able to open the minds of others to the awe-inspiring nature of good food in my own way.”

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Rudi with Togara (The Master) presented again with kitchen aid mixers

Rudi with Togara (The Master) presented again with kitchen aid mixers

Togara Mabharani knows no end. This is the fourth time Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel has won the “Best Bread” category .
Togara has magic hands. Congratulations once again.
This year he impressed with a both traditional selection but also a display of sour dough gluten free breads.
Simply unbelievable.

Thank you once again to the kind sponsors – Kitchen Aid for recognising our baker and our beautiful 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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