Chefs who Share Lanzerac 7 chefs 2 Whale CottageIt was a unique experience to meet seven chefs who have worked or are currently working at Michelin star restaurants (10 Michelin stars awarded in total) in Austria and Germany for breakfast at the Lanzerac on Tuesday.  While it was an early morning start, it was energizing being in the company of the ever-bubbly Barbara Lenhard and Florian Gast of Opulent Living, who had extended the invitation to a number of writers.

We were seated at one long table intermingled with the chefs, and a half way swopping of seats was clever too, so that we could get to chat to at least three of the seven chefs for a longer period of time.  Opulent Living, organisers of the charity Gala Dinner ‘Chefs who Share‘ in the City Hall this evening,  Chefs who Share logowelcomed the seven chefs, who had all flown in from Europe to Cape Town on Monday.

Tonight seven teams of two local chefs each, a local sommelier, and one of the German-speaking chefs, will prepare a four course dinner for 36 guests who have paid R3000 each to attend, a total of 250 guests not only eating delectable food, but also drinking excellent local wines, and interacting with the three chefs looking after their tables.  Last year Opulent Living raised R1,2 million through the charity Gala Dinner, and decided to raise the bar this year by flying in the seven German-speaking chefs, hoping to raise R2 million tonight.

The chef pairings for tonight’s ‘Chefs who Share‘ dinner are Chefs George Jardine of Jardine at Jordan, PJ Vadas, who has left Camphors at Vergelegen to open his own (yet to open) The Hog House restaurant, and Gerd Kastenmeier from Germany; Chefs Marthinus Ferreira from DW Eleven–13, Christo Pretorius from Azure at the Twelve Apostles, and Alfred Miller from Austria; Chefs Christiaan Campbell from Delaire Graff, Chantel Dartnall from Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient, and Andreas Mayer from Germany;  Chefs Rudi Liebenberg from The Planet at Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, Michelle Theron from Pierneef à La Motte, with Christoph Geschwendtner from Austria; Chefs Malika van Reenen from Signal at the Cape Grace, Chris Erasmus from Foliage, and Bernhard Reiser from Germany; Chefs Jackie Cameron from the Jackie Cameron School of Food and Wine, Jürgen Schneider from Springfontein Eats, and Christian Grainer from Germany; and Chefs Darren Badenhorst from Grande Provence, Chef Franck Dangereux from The Food Barn, and Chef Anton Schmaus from Germany .

Chefs who Share Lanzeraz Chef Gerd Whale CottageI sat next to Chef Gerd Kastenmeier, of Kastenmeiers in Dresden, who told me that he has visited the Cape annually for his holiday in the past five years, his friend Jürgen Kirchner owning Druk my Niet in Paarl, with excellent wines, which Chef Gerd has on his winelist.  They make a special collaboration ‘Africa meets Germany’ wine, a blend of Chenin Blanc with 10% Riesling from the Weingut Pfaffmann in the Pfalz.  He stocks Wilderer grappa and port, and a red wine from Iona, six of the 350 wines on his winelist being from our country.  Twenty years ago he moved from Bavaria to Dresden, loving the 200 meter green belt on both sides of the Elbe running through the city.  His speciality is fish, and he soon discovered that there was no good fish restaurant, and he has stayed in the city ever since, specialising in fish and shellfish.  Despite this being one of the busiest months in his restaurant and cooking school, with 5000 customers per month in his 130 pax restaurant, it was too good an opportunity to miss out on, he said. He has long-standing staff that makes it possible for him to be away. He will be preparing the starter of tuna tartare, with wasabi mayonnaise and a poached egg.  Wine is his hobby, he said.  He does not really have a menu, his restaurant patrons entering the restaurant via the kitchen, where he shows them what he is cooking that evening.  Up to 80% of his patrons are regulars, and they trust the choice of what he will serve that day. He forages for mushrooms in the morning.  He said proudly that he only offers what he likes to eat and drink.  His restaurant is open 24/7, and only closes three days a year.  His restaurant hosts an annual charity dinner, at which the patrons do the work, making the food, doing the flowers, and serving the wines, at which they have raised more than R120000 annually for a charity in aid of research for children suffering from cancer.

Chef Alfred Miller (standing, with Chef Christian Greiner in the photograph) is from Innsbruck, originally coming from Munich. He has visited and cooked in Stockholm, Spain, Switzerland,Chefs who Share Lanzerac Chefs Alfred and Christian Whale Cottage and France, and this is his first trip cooking in South Africa.  His restaurant Wirtshaus Schöneck has one Michelin star.  He renovated an old student pub building, loving the look of the 150 year old building. He has written a cookbook ‘Für Freunde kochen‘, and says that despite his age of 65 he cannot let go of cooking, focusing on Austrian and Mediterranean cuisine.  Chef Christoph Geschwendtner comes from the Burg Hotel Lech in Austria, and said he is overwhelmed with the beauty and the Chefs who Share Lanzerac Chef Christoph Whale Cottagefriendliness he experienced in his first 24 hours in the Winelands.  They were entertained at Delaire Graff the afternoon and evening before, and loved the view onto the Simonsberg.  His cooking style is ‘puristic, a mix of French and Mediterranean, with little use of garnish’.  He will be preparing a calf’s dish tonight, as well as a dessert of Swiss chocolate with coffee and banana.

Chef Anton Schmaus from Restaurant Storstadt in Regensburg is the youngest in the group of seven, offering modern contemporary cuisine with a ‘pinch of Asia‘, he explained.  His dish tonight is monkfish with a pork belly crust, Asian flavours, and Bavarian kimchi.  Chef Christian Greiner from Christians near Munich operates in a building which has been owned by his family for 572 years. He has held one Michelin star for 15 years.  Chef Andreas Mayer (right) is the co-ordinater of the visiting chefs, working at theChefs who Share Lanzeraz Chef Andreas Mayer Whale Cottage Schloss Hotel in Zell am See in Austria, and his restaurant has 2 Michelin stars.  His cooking style is ‘me’, he said! Chef Bernhard Reiser from Restaurant Würzburg has three restaurants and a cookery school in the town.

Chefs who Share Lanzerac Eggs Benedict Whale CottageLanzerac Chef Stephen Fraser and his team must have sweated to prepare the cooked breakfast for the chefs from the Michelin star restaurants.  He decided to cook a very traditional South African breakfast of crispy bacon, beef Boerewors, corn fritters, mushrooms, scrambled eggs, with a tomato and onion smoor.  The alternative choice was a beetroot and orange cured salmon Eggs Benedict on an English muffin, Pecorini creamed spinach, and Hollandaise sauce, which was what I chose. A selection of cold ‘slap pap’, pickled fish, fruit, cold meats, cheeses, breads, and pastries, was available too.

After the breakfast at the Lanzerac, the seven visiting chefs were whisked off in a fleet of black Mercedes-Benz cars, to the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, where they were each given a Veggie Box, which forms part of the ‘Chefs who Share’ initiative. Tonight Chefs who share INternational chef veggie boxes 141185-Photos 9th Sept121-ee6b3f-large-1410352249guests at the Gala dinner can commit to sponsoring such Veggie Boxes, which will be used to cook food for disadvantaged children. At the Mount Nelson the visiting chefs cooked in Chef Rudi Liebenberg’s kitchen, which they then shared with 120 children at iThemba Labantu.

Part of the proceeds of ‘Chefs who Share’ will be raised from an auction of artworks by some of our country’s leading artists, including father and son artists Anton and Lionel Smit, respectively, as well as Dylan Lewis, Ingrid Bolton, and Jean Doyle. The artists were chosen as their ‘work and ethos align with those of the event of this calibre‘.  Two further Auction packages are attending the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as well as attending the Laureus World Sports Awards.

Chefs who Share’ was sold out within four days of ticket sales opening!   It promises to be an evening of fine food, fine wines, and fine art, all for a good cause!  I cannot wait for the Gala dinner this evening, and for the special chefs who will be looking after the table I will be seated at.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Tel (021) 433-2100  Twitter:@WhaleCottage  Facebook:  click here