When Opulent Living‘s Barbara Lenhard and Florian Gast organise an event, you know it will be beyond perfect, the German precision being evident from the minute one enters the venue. Outperforming its ‘Chefs who Share – the ART of Giving‘ Gala Dinner and Auction of last year, which raised R1,2 million then, R 2,5 million was raised at ‘Chefs who Share‘ on Thursday evening from the 250 tickets sold at R3000 each for the Gala Dinner, and the smart auctioneering of art works and other auction lots.
Arriving at the not-often-used Darling Street entrance to the City Hall, the Mercedes-Benz (the company was a sponsor) CLS Coupé was outside the steps, and photographs taken of the VIPs attending. Halfway up the steps were the tables to register one’s attendance, with tall vases of beauty created with vegetables, all of which plus the vegetables used for the table decor going to a soup kitchen the following day. Outside the Hall itself, waiters greeted us with glasses of Graham Beck MCC, and one could admire the artwork hung in the passages, which was auctioned later in the evening. A continuous stream of canapés was offered, and the waiters linked to the creators of these served them, which helped in that they knew what they were serving. Little name cards, with the description of the dishes and the chef’s name, made the identification for Tweeting easy. Those served by Chefs Jackie Cameron, Rudi Liebenberg with Michelle Theron, Darren Badenhorst, Malika van Reenen, and Christiaan Campbell attracted particular attention. It was in the passage that we could chat and congratulate Barbara, who looked beautiful and glamorous in her Gavin Rajah dress.
It was a surprise as to which table one would be seated at, and which team of two local top chefs, the local sommelier linked to one of the two chef restaurants, and one German-speaking chef who has worked or is working at a Michelin star restaurant and flown in especially for the event, would be preparing the meal for one’s table, A total of 36 guests was looked after by such a team, with seven teams in total. I had been fortunate to meet all the international chefs at a getting-to-know-you breakfast at Lanzerac earlier in the week. The chefs in each team created their own unique menu of four courses, each chef creating one dish, and then jointly collaborating on the chocolate dessert dish. Each course on the seven menus was uniquely paired with a local or international wine. It was a pity that there was no video screening all the dishes which were prepared, as we only saw our own set of four dishes. The Food and Beverage Manager for the evening, looking after the smooth serving of 1000 plates of food and 1000 glasses of wine, was Gavin Ferreira of the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa, there being no glitches at any stage of the evening. I sat next to Tarryn Thomas of Riedel in Cape Town, and her team liased with the sommeliers about the stemware they needed, as the wine glass requirements changed per course. I was grateful that I could go to the make-shift mobile kitchen which had been set up in the passageway between the City Hall and Woolworths head office, which had far better light for photographing our dishes, compared to the pink/blue light inside the hall. We apologise for the photographs taken in the hall, where there was no alternative with better lighting.
The chef pairings and dishes created for the ‘Chefs who Share‘ dinner were as follows:
1. 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 Kastenmeiers in Dresden, Germany. Menu: Tartar of yellowfish tuna with baked egg; artichoke velouté, smoked chicken, wild mushrooms, and chicken liver parfait; roasted lamb, smoked lamb fillet and organic carrots; and Valrhona chocolate and hazelnut mouse, white chocolate cremeaux, Felchlin chocolate mouse, coffee poached pear, and smoked white chocolate.
2. Chefs Marthinus Ferreira from DW Eleven–13, Christo Pretorius from Azure at the Twelve Apostles, and Alfred Miller from Wirtshaus Schöneck in Innsbruck in Austria. Menu: Asian fish bowl; white onion velouté, crispy Gruyère croquette, smoked bone marrow, beef jelly, peas, and carrots; The best of the dairy calf: sautéed sweetbread, braised cheek, vacuum cooked rib eye with potato truffle espuma, mushrooms, and glazed vegetables; and chocolate bar of best Swiss couverture, coffee, vanilla, banana, and brown butter.
3. Chefs Christiaan Campbell from Delaire Graff, Chantel Dartnall from Restaurant Mosaic at The Orient, and Andreas Mayer of Schloss Prielau at Zell am See in Austria, a 2 Michelin star restaurant. Menu: ‘Spring Flowers’ (pink, purple, and periwinkle), salmon trout, marron, horseradish mouse, and quail egg; ‘Spring Shoots and Buds’ (green, white, yellow), garden pea, fava beans, and asparagus; ‘Spring Sunshine’ (amber, orange, red): Karoo lamb, quail, waterblommetjies, Farmer Eric’s carrots; and ‘Awakening Soil‘ (brown, hazelnut, ivory), a collaboration in shades of chocolate.
4. Chefs Rudi Liebenberg from The Planet at Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, Michelle Theron from Pierneef à La Motte, with Christoph Geschwendtner from the Burghotel Lech in Austria. Menu: From land and sea (left); The quail in the cress; A little of everything beef; and Chocolate wonderland.
5. Chefs Malika van Reenen from Signal at the Cape Grace, Chris Erasmus from Foliage, and Bernhard Reiser from Reisers am Stein in Würzburg in Germany. Menu: Prawn samoosa, pickled fish, cucumber mousse, and curried apricot pickle; roasted cauliflower soup with poached egg and spicy popcorn; forest floor braised Jersey flatrib, lactic fermented pine bolete mousse, wild watercress pomme purée, pine needle and burnt oak jus; Nyangbo 68%, lemon cream, hazelnut butter, espresso gel, and cocoa soil.
6. Chefs Jackie Cameron from the Jackie Cameron School of Food and Wine, Jürgen Schneider from Springfontein Eats, and Christian Grainer from Christians Restaurant in Kirchdorf in Germany. Menu: see below.
7. Chefs Darren Badenhorst from Grande Provence, Chef Franck Dangereux from The Food Barn, and Chef Anton Schmaus from Storstadt in Regensburg in Germany. Menu: ‘Umami’: cured salmon and seawise kob, sea water and Noordhoek sea lettuce, Atlantic oyster, grapefruit oil, and edamame beans; spicy pork broth, monkfish, pork belly, manger, and Bavarian kimchi; braised Wagyu shortrib, truffle mash fritter, braising jus, watercress oil, smoked gem puree, micro-rocket vinaigrette, and pickled celeriac; galaxy of chocolate, with caramelised white chocolate espresso frozen air, chocolate CO² and macadamia nut crumble, cocoa Genoise, 40% and 80% spheres, salted caramel, rose caviar, gold, and silver.
I was lucky to sit at the table of the team of Chefs Jackie (Eat Out Top 10), Jürgen (a 1 star Michelin restaurant owner at Strahlenberger Hof before moving to Stanford a year ago), and Christian, the combined two Michelin star being the closest I’ll ever get to eating at a Michelin star restaurant! Each chefs’ team offered a unique selection of breads and rolls, and spreads. Our table had a lovely seed loaf and herb cottage cheese spread. Our table (plus the other two linked to us) was looked after by Chef Jürgen’s wife Susanne as sommelier, and the staff from their Stanford restaurant, attentive service being offered until the last minute, long after midnight. Our starter was created by Chef Christian, a trout, sorrel, saffron and fennel marinated kob with a nori crisp, strawberries, cauliflower, and green smudge, which Susanne had paired with Markus Schneider Steinberg Riesling 2013, with pronounced guava notes. The soup course was created by Chef Jackie, for which I could photograph the base KwaZulu-Natal sourced ingredients of springbok carpaccio, Swissland goat’s cheese crème, Romesco olives, and Caversham quail egg, in the kitchen. The mealie soup was poured into the bowl in the hall, and the end result photographed badly due to the lighting. This course was paired with Hermanuspietersfontein Nr 7 Sauvignon Blanc 2013.
Chef Jürgen’s main course was very simply called ‘Oxtail and pigeon‘, with no further description, and was served with a tower of red pepper held together with strips of zucchini. This was paired with Springfontein Jonathan’s Ridge Single Vineyard Pinotage 2012. The hit of the evening’s dinner was the dessert, which was created for each guest at our set of three tables, by all three chefs, removing the table cloth and plating the dessert onto the glass top table, from which we ate every variation of chocolate, as smears, coriander dipped in chocolate, chocolate almond dragees, silver balls, ice cream, a biscuit, granadilla and whipped mead with a hint of gold. The photographs did not do this dish any justice, given the poor lighting in the hall, but I managed to find a master design of this dessert with some of the ingredients in the kitchen (right). The dessert was paired with Laibach Natural Sweet Chenin Blanc 2014.
The overall regret of the ‘Chefs who Share‘ evening was the restricted opportunity to interact with the local chefs (some are from other parts of the country, and we don’t get to see much of the local ones either), as well as the international ones (luckily we did meet at the Lanzerac breakfast, so we could greet each other in the kitchen). Chef Andreas Mayer came to chat at our (very German) table, at which his friends were seated, one couple having flown in from Austria to attend the dinner. It was clear to see that new chef friendships were created within the chef team pairings, Chefs George Jardine and Gerd Kastenmeier being in deep discussion in the kitchen, and Chefs Bernhard and Chris connecting, so much so that Chef Bernhard went to eat at Foliage on Friday. Chef PJ Vadas has not yet found a venue for his restaurant, but his brewery will be in Ndabeni, near Merrypak, with some type of eatery there too, with another closer to the city. Chef Marthinus Ferreira of DW Eleven-13 told me that he is not in Season 3 of The Ultimate Braai Master, having been in the first two seasons, as he is opening another new restaurant in Johannesburg, and needs to focus on his restaurants. One would have loved to have been a fly on the kitchen wall, in terms of the dynamics between the chefs and their egos, most of the international chefs only meeting their local chef counterparts on the day of the dinner.
Iain Banner was an excellent auctioneer, achieving R230000 for a Jean Doyle sculpture, and R200000 each for a work of art by Lionel Smit (left) and Richard Scott, the auction alone generating a total of about R1,5 million. All the chefs, sommeliers, and waiters offered their services for free, and all the produce and beverages were sponsored, making all the proceeds of the Gala Dinner and Auction go to Francois Pienaar’s Make a Difference (MAD) Charity, and to the South African branch of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, managed locally by Morné du Plessis. During the evening sponsorships of R1000 each were sold at the tables for Veggie Boxes, which will go to charities providing disadvantaged children with nutritious meals. The evening was a long one, and MCs Gerry Rantseli Eisdon and a much slimmed-down Jeremy Mansfield kept the pace going throughout the evening, ragging each other.
Talk is of an even bigger and better ‘Chefs who Share‘ for next year, and of taking it to Johannesburg, the UK, and/or to Europe! Given Barbara Lenhard’s drive, and the support of Florian Gast and their sponsors, they are sure to make it happen!
‘Chefs who Share – the ART of Giving’, Opulent Living, Tel (021) 433-1699 www.opulentliving.co.za Twitter: @liveopulent