Rudi’s Section

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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WASTED 9 – Smoked Trout Cheese Cake


I have previously touched on the waste of fish as well as trout. This is an extension of some further investigation with a lot of trials. We have some beautiful farmed seatrout from the west coast, as we have a fair amount of flesh left after filleting. We started looking at different options, previously we used the meat we scraped of the bones for a tartare.

We have smoked the fish of cuts before but needed an idea where the fish could be used not in small amounts, but all of it. We needed an application where the demand would be greater than the waste produced. In this recipe we cured the fish on the bone then smoked it on the bone, removing the meat after it has cooled. 

At the same time we were working different ideas for afternoon tea, we were looking at adding a second fish item to the savoury selection. As the marriage between cream cheese and smoked salmon works well, the idea for a savoury cheeses cake started. Not something new as there are many recipes using the prime cut of hot smoked salmon or cold smoked salmon. The application of using off cuts off hot smoked trout pieces made a lot of sense, nice looking pieces are not required as it would be flaked into the mix before baking.

Hot smoked trout and dill cheesecake was introduced onto the savoury tea selection!

In the picture we I also looked at the possibility for a starter in the future with fennel, capers and dune spinach.


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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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WASTED 8 – Cauliflower Tempura


Cauliflower Stalks, ribs and leaves

Cauliflower Stalks, ribs and leaves

We will always have enough cauliflower off cuts to have a dedicated menu for just “the cauliflower”
As cauliflower likes to be fried this was going to be easy, lightly salted in tempura batter crispy fried. Some of the pieces are going to be stringy…but that is also ok.
Served with a slice of lemon and home made roasted garlic aioli.

Cauliflower Tempura

Cauliflower leaves
Cauliflower ribs cut into strips
Cauliflower stalks sliced thinly

Simple batter
4 tbsp plain flour
4 tbsp rice flour
Salt/Pepper as needed
Soda water as needed (ice cold)

Cauliflower Tempura

Cauliflower Tempura



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Mothers Day in Oasis

Sunday Roast

Sunday Roast In Oasis

Give mother the day off, this Sunday at the Oasis buffet we have almost everything needed to make sure mom, gran do not have to lift a finger, catering for all tastes. Starting with a cold buffet that has fresh oysters, prawns, smoked salmon and sushi. The salad selection is vast with lots including options to create one own Caesar with excess the way one normally would. Mediterranean mezze, tarts and charcuterrie for all tastes.
On the hot buffet we have the essential fix with Yorkshire pudding with that all time Sunday favourite, Mike Maliti’s oxtail, with roast lamb and beef, to make sure we leave very little for dessert. And if there is space waffles with ice cream or strawberry pavlova.
And if you must some warm malva pudding with some more ice cream to round the afternoon off. or 021 483 1948

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Greek Style Roast Leg of Lamb

Lamb leg

Greek Style Roast Leg Of Lamb, Photo Credit

This recipe is done by Chef Jaco who has been with me for many years, currently looking after the Banqueting operation at the hotel. What makes this recipe great the lemon and tomato, giving the lamb that smack for more. We prefer removing the lamb from refrigerator a hour before roasting to bring to room temperature. Adding more garlic is optional and advised. This Recipe was first published as part of an Easter recipe compilation for crushmag-online

Basting Sauce
5 cloves garlic, grated
1 Tbsp rosemary, chopped
zest of 1 lemon
salt & black pepper
1 Tbsp dried oregano
juice of 4-6 lemons
250 ml olive oil
6 tomatoes, grated

2-2.5 kg leg of lamb
5 cloves garlic, sliced into quarters
15-20 sprigs rosemary
mirepoix (1 large onion, 1 large carrot, 2 sticks celery, 1 leek cleaned and sliced)
3 tomatoes, diced
10-12 baby potatoes
250 ml water

Preheat the oven to 180 °C

While the oven is preheating make the basting sauce by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl. Set aside until ready to use.

Turn the heat down to 165 °C.

Make small incisions in the flesh of the lamb on both sides. Insert the garlic slices into the incisions.
Season the lamb leg well with salt, pepper and baste.
Place the leg of lamb on a bed of rosemary, the mirepoix and the diced tomato. Roast for 1.5 hours, turning and basting the lamb every half hour.

Scatter the baby potatoes around the lamb and pour in the water. Add a little more water if it becomes too dry.
Finish at 190 °C for about 20 minutes. If you enjoy your lamb a little extra well done, cook for an additional half hour.

When the lamb is cooked, remove from oven and allow to rest for 10-12 minutes before carving.

Photo Credit

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Aioli Three Ways


Garlic, gift from the Gods

Aioli is simply an emulsion, similar to a mayonnaise made up of garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and egg yolks. Recipes may differ from one to the next with the amount of garlic used. Some recipes may include mustard or part vegetable oil, even bread.
In some similar sauces egg is omitted as in the Catalan Allioli using only a pestle and mortar with only garlic and olive oil made slowly drop by drop. Another similar sauce called skordalia is made with potato, olive oil, garlic and vinegar.
Previously I featured aioli with a picture of Le grand Aioli featuring boiled or steamed fish, egg, potatoes and vegetables all prepared in the simplest manner served warm or at room temperature with lots of aioli.
So this time I received a sample of some garlic from a supplier growing 15 varietals, so we were wondering what garlic is the best for an aioli? Up to now we have always been at the mercy of the supplier, they give us what they have. Choosing a varietal has never really been an option.
I have been aware in limited experience of a Softneck (silverskin and artichoke), hardneck (racambole, porcelain and purple stripe) and the very large garlic, elephant garlic.

I was given four different garlic cloves each very different, Tuscan a Turban variety from Italy with a medium strength with large and fat cloves. Second one a Persian Star, Purple stripe variety from Uzbekistan a mild but spicy garlic
Third a Purple Glazer – Glazed purple stripe variety from Georgia a strong long lasting flavour.
Fourth, Rose Lautrec Creole variety from France Sweet and subtle.

I personally do not like a garlic that is to spicy in aioli, preferring a mild to sweet garlic.

I have added two more recipes to the blog, one using no egg and one that is great for vegans
The milk emulsion was introduced years ago by very good friend of mine, at the time I did not believe him. But admittedly a high speed blender does make it possible.
Milk emulsion (egg free milk garlic emulsion)
This is so easy so quick, milk, garlic, lemon, olive oil and yes a stick blender.

1/3 cup milk
1 tbsp lemon juice (assists with the thickness)
little zest
2 garlic cloves
dijon mustard optional
salt and pepper to taste
125 ml vegetable oil
75 ml olive oil
in a deep measuring jug add milk, garlic, lemon and mustard, with a stick blender start off slowly and increase speed, when everything is combined add oily slowly, adjust seasoning.
For a milder aioli use mashed roasted garlic.

Vegan Nut Aioli
100g cashew cheese
20g pine nuts soaked
8 small garlic cloves roasted and skinned
20m lemon juice
1/8 tsp fine rind
White pepper
2 tsp mustard dijon
50ml olive oil

Combine all ingredients, place in blender until creamy.

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Rejected Canapés

We had an opportunity to show and tell a large group of people this week, so for the group of 30, we did a selection of canapés showcasing 14 potential ideas around saving and working smart. What made this event interesting, was my chef’s and their contribution, thinking outside the box.

They pushed past the normal ideas and I was kind of stunned by the creative thinking. It once again highlighted how much of what we do daily must be integrated into a menu or a recipe. We have become so obsessed with perfect loins and cuts that we lost focus on the whole. During the discussion I brought up seconds and thirds during harvesting, often the best or the firsts are always in demand and are seldom a problem to sell, the challenge comes in in selling the tomato with a blemish. Often organic well looked after vegetables are picked at the right time when it is ready to eat and not while still unripe, like in many cases shops sell items that have been picked two weeks before it should have been. With picking at the right time many items ripen past the best, but are still good for certain applications, this would be considered thirds, it is at this point that waste is found, many will not touch, this sector must be looked at a it holds possibilities not just on menu’s but for the hungry. But more on this at a later stage.

But for our lunch we presented canapés some of these concepts for the event included crispy lamb fat and celeriac skin remoulade rolled in biltong dust, Cauliflower leaf latke with trout tartare, tomato ciabatta tortelloni, spinach stalk pakora and smoked trout belly rillettes. It must be said that we use waste in recipes in conjunction with ingredients in our recipes. We will be investigating and exploring some of these recipes at a later stage.

My personal highlights was the tortelloni, bread is so underestimated, underappreciated and just gets a bad wrap because of gluten. Get over all of that and its use and application becomes far more than a sandwich or a bread crumb. We often add toasted bread crumbs with anchovy to spaghetti, which is totally divine. In this application we combined skins from tomato and peppers, stale ciabatta, wine, olive oil that is cooked down before adding off cuts parmesan for the filling.

Cook the tortellini and toss it in butter or even better burnt butter with sage(stalks).

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WASTED 6 – Time!

Everyday we juice boxes and bags of oranges for fresh orange juice, we then throw away all the juiced oranges. On the other side of the kitchen we serve morning and afternoon tea and lots of it. It is missing something unique. Homemade goodness!
Cannot believe it took us this long to figure it out. But the first trial by Chef Jaco was snapped up by Craig our pastry chef for the cheese boards. The thinking was to make a marmalade for the scones and the preserve for the cheese boards.
But after tasting the orange preserve we all decided that it will work fantastically on the scones with clotted cream. The biggest challenge in making this preserve is time, and more time as the oranges are cooked multiple times in fresh water to remove the bitterness. The result is unique as the skins are soft, very soft and easy to apply.
We still have a lot of skins, we need to consider other applications, orange salt, candied oranges and marmalade.
With the shortage of water, we will have to cut one or two steps.

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Finding Burger Part 14! Southern Fried.

Chicken burger

Photo Credit –

If it has to be chicken then I would do a Southern fried chicken, mincing chicken for a burger just does not seem right. A couple of months ago we did a burger shoot with Crush on line. I this shoot we covered various options from fish to chicken to vegetarian.
There is something to fried food on a bun, like Gatsby with fried fish and chips on a bun, or a po’ boy sandwich. The same goes for fried chicken it just tastes so much better no matter how bad it sounds.
At the hotel we offer these in miniature slider versions with a little coleslaw and aioli.
In the picture we added grilled pineapple, coleslaw, pickles and chili aioli (because chili makes everything ok)

Recipe does contain some extra steps, but so worth it
600g de-boned chicken thigh or chicken breast if using breast cut into two thinner pieces in length. This is a lot of ingredients but well worth the effort

Cream Mix
600ml buttermilk
6 ea garlic cloves
1 small chili
1 ea spring onion sliced
¼ tsp Black pepper
1 ½ tsp White pepper
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp chili powder
2-4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander root included
1 tsp chopped thyme

Salt as needed

Flour (for dusting)
200g Flour
1 tsp Salt(to taste)
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp celery salt (optional)
1 tsp dried parsley (optional)

Oil for deep frying
Pour cream and eggs together into a deep cup and blend with a stick blender.
Add garlic, coriander leaves, paprika, salt pepper, fresh chilies continue to blend.
Add portioned chicken to the egg and cream mixture.
Leave over night before use.

Combine sifted flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne.
Dip egg drenched chicken pieces into flour mix. Allow to rest for 30 minutes before frying.
Into a deep fryer.
Fry until golden brown, if the pieces are very large finish in the oven.

For Burger Assembly

1 cup shredded ice berg lettuce
1 cup coleslaw
2 large pickled gherkins sliced thinly
Chili aioli
100g shaved pine apple grilled
4 ea sesame buns
Butter for buns to toast

Butter each bun top and bottom and toast in pan or grill until warmed trough and crispy.
On each base sprinkle a shredded lettuce followed by a spoon full of coleslaw.
Top with fried chicken followed by pineapple and sliced gherkins.
Drizzle some ranch dressing on top of everything, finishing with top of bun.

Photo Credit –

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