Chef Benny Masekwameng was the fourth Chef to have an episode in the M-Net mini-series ‘Feast’ dedicated to him last Thursday. The mini-series has already featured Chefs Pete Goffe-Wood, Marco Pierre White, and Reuben Riffel.
The episode started with Chef Benny sitting at the coffee shop Croft & Co in Parkview, to plan the ‘Feast’ he was preparing for his eleven friends, who he grew up with. Chef Benny visited Tyrone Fruiterers in Parkview, buying berries for his dessert, and spinach, peppers, asparagus, and aubergine for his main course. He planned making a lamb rack, and went to Braeside Meat Market in Parkhurst, where owner Caroline offered him lamb from Namaqua, praising its ‘good sweet fat‘. Then Chef Benny visited a well-stocked La Marina Foods in Modderfontein, where he bought Scottish salmon, Brie from the Western Cape, and green fig and sundried apricot preserves.
On his way home he went to visit his mother Margaret, from whose property he wanted some avocadoes, and to discuss her special spinach dish, which he wanted to make for his ‘Feast‘. One could see that mother and son are very close, and Chef Benny heard that she started her career as a cleaner, but she wanted to be independent, and started a vetkoek business, and thereafter a business making lunches for factory workers in Wynberg. The family grew up in ‘Alex’ (Alexandria), and Chef Benny said that he did not realise his parents’ financial pressure when he grew up, having fun with his friends. Chef Benny’s mom taught him how to cook, and he made baby hake for the family on Fridays.
Chef Benny’s menu for his ‘Feast’ was as follows, recipes for his dishes being available here:
* Poached Scottish Salmon, served with labneh, watermelon, and avocado. This was served with a green sauce, made from chopped herbs, lemon juice, olive oil, basil, chives, parsley, a bayleaf, toasted almond flakes, and thyme.
* Rack of lamb, for which Chef Benny did the French trim himself. Chef Benny said that lamb is not cheap, and that they ate stewing lamb or made soup from lamb bones when he was a child. This was served with his mother’s spinach dish, which she would have made with morogo, but Chef Benny used red chili, garlic, pine nuts, onion, peanut butter, and chopped ground nuts. This was served with lamb jus. On his fancy-looking barbeque Chef Benny grilled slices of aubergine, and red, green and yellow peppers, giving them a striped effect. His mom asked about pap, but Chef Benny said that his friends eat it at home all the time.
* A cheese board, with the Brie, green fig preserve, walnuts, and candied spiced orange slices.
Chef Benny’s mom came to his house on the day of the lunch, chatting and guiding him. She said that she wanted him to complete his Engineering studies, but he switched to a culinary course, after his second year of studying, mainly with his dad’s blessing. But his mom said that she is very proud of her son now, having become a household name now, in having participated in three seasons of MasterChef SA!
Speaking to Chef Reuben Riffel about ‘Feast‘, it appears that none of the four chefs had seen the episodes to be broadcast, not even their own.
‘Feast’, M-Net. Thursdays 19h30. The mini-series finished on 8 January.