Rudi’s Section

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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Aglio e Olio


Aglio e Olio

Serves: 4 – 6 people

Difficulty: easy
Preparation time: Quick
Cooking time: Quick
This is the simplest of pasta dishes and, if you like garlic, it makes it even better. As simple Aglio e Olio is, it is also easy to make a mess of it, the most important thing is the spaghetti – use only the best, pay a little more, it is worth it. This recipe I did for crush online a couple of years ago and we used a home- made linguini. For the best results, use only the best olive oil and fresh garlic.
Cheese is not a requirement and is best if kept simple. As I am not a fan of take ways, this makes up for those really lazy Sundays, Fridays and Saturdays. Some purist believe that the garlic is removed, strained from the oil before the pasta is cooked. If you are not going burn the garlic, it would not matter too much.


500 g fresh home-made linguini
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or crushed
1/2 C (125 ml) olive oil
1/4 tsp (1.25 ml) chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (I prefer using red pepper flakes)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 C (60 ml) chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 C (250 ml) finely grated Parmesan cheese


Bring a large saucepan filled with salted water to the boil. Add the linguini and cook until al dente. Drain quickly and place in bowl (if some of the cooking liquid is retained, this will help to ensure that the dish remains moist.)

While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a sauté pan. Add the the garlic and cook slowly until the garlic starts to change colour, if it burns strain it off. Remove from heat and add the chilli (or red pepper flakes), salt and black pepper.

Add the parsley, pasta and cooking liquid.
Sprinkle with Parmesan over the pasta before serving.

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Finding Burger part 10 – Is it all about baste?

Burger part 10

It’s all about the baste

It is essential to have a little bit of smoke on the beef patty when grilling, this is why it is essential to use a charcoal grill with open flames, the juices and fat run off onto the exposed coals causing puffs of smoke that is essential in creating a taste profile that is true. So, is it all about baste? Or can we leave it off completely? In the past we have always added a little basting. Our thinking was based on trying add an extra dimension and the rest based on nostalgia of when we were young and we frequented our favourite burger shop. What we were ultimately after was an umami burst to lift everything. What we ended up with, was a dirty grill!

We found that the basting we used, almost like a monkey gland sauce would burn almost caramelise slightly which in its own is pleasant…..but to sweet.

We have always said that we do not garnish imperfection, putting a basting on the patty is in a way hiding perfection. We need to steer clear of adding sugar, it messes with the brain. The tomato chutney is sweet, caramelised onion is sweet and so is the basting.

So just like that, it was gone. But it has still left a void. So now Sven is working on a more savoury approach juts short of emptying a bottle of soya over the burger. Perhaps the answer lies with caramelised onions.

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Where did the fish go?

Trout 3


This time of the year we do not see a lot of trout on our menu’s. I went to go investigate. Through the Huguenot Tunnel all the way to Fizantakraal, nestled beautifully between the Du Toits Kloof mountains.

With the most spectacular views next to the trout raceways we inspect the facility. What struck me at first was the amount of fish in the raceways, or rather the freedom to move around. Often I have this picture with the fish tucked in fin to fin in a race way with hardly enough water to swim. Farming fish has got some pro’s and cons. What is the ratio of feed to final weight, what feed is used? Where is the feed from. But this is for another post.

All the water used at this facility come straight out of the mountain and flow through the trout facility and then back into the stream.

So what is the deal, the trout eggs get milked or rather harvested this time of the year, a process that needs to be gentle with the trout as the eggs get massaged gently out of the fish. The fish is then returned unharmed back into the ponds. This is seasonal and happens normally May to June every year as it is farm these eggs need to be kept for the nursery and for the years production as well as for the sale of trout roe.

I was given an opportunity to harvest roe from one fish, which looks a lot easier than what it really is. Tendency is to be very gentle with the fish, this does not exactly pay off, the trout is strong and requires a very form grip without harming the fish. Holding the fish in my left hand and securing the grip against my leg, I gently message the belly with my right hand, until the roe runs freely into a bucket. It is not uncommon that one fish can yield up to 700g of roe. The roe is cured lightly after the milking process and we head home to sample our own.

So until the end of the month when all colour has returned we can put trout back on the menu.

There is also a lodge if you need to breakaway from city living nestled in the valley. Sleeps eight people with all necessary luxuries. You will need these after a day out in the cold mountains.

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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)

Nick Showcook entry


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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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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As winter is approaching, rain falling and the fire burning. This will warm the soul. Reminds me of Durban in Cape Town almost like a meatball Gatsby.  I was even contemplating adding cheese on top and melting it.



2 onions, peeled and finely diced
2 ea garlic, peeled chopped
1 tsp grated ginger
4 chillies, 2 chopped 2 slit down centre
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp toasted and crushed coriander seeds
1 tsp toasted and crushed cumin seeds
8 ea curry leaves
5g turmeric powder
1tbsp canola oil
1tbsp clarified butter
Water as needed
6 ea tomatoes, grated
Pinch sugar as needed
Chopped coriander

Add the onion to the oil and butter cook the onions until soft and translucent add water if it starts catch, cook away
add all spices cook another 5 minutes until the spices become fragrant
Add a little more butter if needed
Add the turmeric and curry leaves to the onions and cook the spice for a further 3-5 minutes, until fragrant
Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and mix through – cook a further 3-5 minutes, and then add tomatoes
Add water if needed
Finish with coriander

Makes about 25 -30ea
500g minced beef
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 chilli chopped very fine
4 slices cubed bread
¼ cup milk
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp ground paprika
3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
½ tsp chopped coriander
1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
½ tsp cumin powder
1tsp salt
1tsp Worchester sauce
1tsp chutney
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Soak bread in milk add all ingredients together and combine well
Form the frikkadels into golf ball size ball and press to flatten slightly
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and brown the meatballs on both sides or bake in oven.
Place in heated chutney to finish

6 prego rolls
150ml yoghurt
Fresh coriander
2 tomatoes sliced
Butter for rolls
Mixed vegetable atchar

Butter rolls and toast
Place tomato slices on each
Top with 5ea  Frikadelle per roll
Top with yoghurt
Picked coriander

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Roast Chicken!

RudiLi (3)

Roast Chicken

I know this is not what one would expect when ordering roast chicken. But everything is roasted and then turned into little pockets of heaven. This dish changes every now and then as we change garnishes or how the breast is cooked, but essentially it is about using every bit of the chicken, picking all the bits from the bones. We roast the breast on the crown in this edition and roast the leg and thigh. Debone the breast and gently finish in butter in a pan with sage and garlic and a hint of chili. The leg and thigh is turned into beautiful tortelloni.(My favourite thing to make and eat)

The whole dish is brought together with roasted cauliflower and cauliflower puree. Crispy bits of chicken skin is added with a little parmesan when served.

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