Tag Archives: Jade de Waal

MasterChef SA Season2 episode 1: A blend of Familiar Faces, Fresh Faces!

Last night the first episode of MasterChef SA Season 2 was flighted, to what seemed liked a smaller audience, if the Twitter reaction (or lack of) is anything to judge it by.  The first episode built a bridge between MasterChef Season 1 last year and the new Season 2, with some familiar faces, and many new hopefuls, some successful in making the bootcamp of 50 contestant amateur cooks, and many not. There are some interesting characters one can expect to go through to Nederburg, given the amount of airtime they received last night.

To demonstrate how far some of the MasterChef Season 1 Finalists have come since their participation in the show, there was a quick overview of some of the more successful Finalists: Deena Naidoo now has a part-ownership in Aayra at Montecasino, part of his so-called R8 million prize package from Tsogo Sun. Sue-Ann Allen, the runner-up, is described as the ‘head chef’ at the Market on the Wharf at the V&A Waterfront in The Times. Lungile Nhlanhla is Drum‘s junior food editor.  Ilse Fourie has a cooking show ‘Ilse Kook‘ on KykNET. Berdina Schurink has opened Bella Sophia Culinary Café in Pretoria. Manisha Naidu and Jade de Waal have participated in cook books.  Some Finalists missing from the Season 1 recap were Sarel Loots, who was a contestant on Kokkedoor, dessert specialist Thys Hattingh who now is Project Manager at the Compass Group, Guy Clark, who has an amazing chef’s job in Mumbai, and Brandon Law, who is Chef Deena’s right hand at Aayra.  It was wonderful to see judges Andrew Atkinson, Benny Masekwameng, and Pete Goffe-Wood again, feeling like old friends, and barely having changed in the year since we first got to know them in Season 1.

To a MasterChef SA newcomer viewer the action may have been too fast, and therefore confusing.  No background information was provided about the start of the process, namely the audition to have one’s cold dish tasted, brought along from home.  The episode started with the hot auditions, in which some of the 100 contestants received lots of airtime, while the others that received little coverage in the episode or were not even mentioned by name were predictably the ones that fell out.  Each participant had 45 minutes to prepare their dish, and 5 minutes to impress the judges whilst plating their dish, and the standard of the dishes presented to the judges generally was high at this very early stage.

Given the amount of time spent on them in the first episode, one can speculate that the following will be seen in the group of 16 contestants at Nederburg (today’s episode will focus on the rest of the hot audition):

*   By far the most airtime was devoted to the first contestant featured, being Zahir Mohamed, who owns Baked Bistro in Bakoven.  He already had a dream to open his own restaurant, and shared that he would open his own bistro after participating in MasterChef SA.  His father is the chef cooking for Manchester United and its fans in the UK. He would ‘cook my heart out’ on MasterChef, and wanted to make them happy, he promised the judges.  He was the first of many contestants to cry, the pressure bringing on the tears, and he explained that he had given up his job (at Brandhouse marketing Heineken) to participate in the reality TV show (as Sue-Ann Allen had in season 1). Zahir made a home-smoked rack of lamb with roasted garlic and a port jus, which Chef Andrew rejected for not having a smoked taste and the spices not coming to the fore. Chefs Benny and Pete disagreed with him, tasting the smokiness, and praising the sweetness in the beetroot and a rack of lamb prepared properly. Twitter: @BakedBistro @Foodie4CapeTown

*   Mohamed (also known as Ozzy) Osman is a student from Johannesburg whose English pronunciation was dreadful.  His pan-fried lemon sole served with a phyllo pastry basket filled with spinach was a hit amongst the judges. Chef Pete promised him 10 years in boarding school if his fish was raw inside, having introduced that his love for cooking stemmed from the dreadful food he had to eat at boarding school. He shared that he comes from a family of dedicated cooks. Chef Pete probably understated his praise of the sole as being ‘pretty well done’. Twitter: @Oh_so_Ozzy

*   Sisters Leandri and Seline van der Wat from Mahikeng (previously Mafikeng) both received their white aprons, but were kept on tenterhooks by the judges, calling them in one after the other.  They were the most gorgeous sisters, both in appearance, and also in attitude, each wishing the other one success in the show.  They lost their mother at an early age, and have enjoyed cooking together.  Selina made a Doublet of prawns served with Rooibos and thyme salt. Leandri prepared a Smoked snoek ravioli.Twitter:  @This_is_Leandri  @SelineVW

*   Neil Lowe was an interesting character, looking studious with his specs, and clearly trying to impress the judges with his terminology of ‘sous vide’, and ‘Modernist cuisine‘, by far the most sophisticated sounding home chef.  If anything, the judges were more critical of him showing off his food science terminology, and said that the proof lay in his understanding of food. His Mauritian sea bass prepared with a lemongrass and coconut velouté received the judges’ praise that earned him a white apron. Twitter: @NeilLowe

*   Kamini Pather is a food blogger from Cape Town that we know from our Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meetings, and appears to work at The Test Kitchen now. She spoke about wishing to use MasterChef SA as a launchpad to prepare a food portal for the Southern Hemisphere.  Her Indian lamb shoulder served with a smear of cauliflower pureé and mustard vinaigrette was highly praised by Chef Andrew, who loved its flavours coming together, and the taste of its spices.  She received her white apron. Twitter: @KaminiPather

*  The character that created the biggest impact was Sanet from Boksburg, with partly purple hair and a BIG personality, hugging Chef Andrew heartily when she received her white apron for her Port and Porcini risotto and chicken. When asked if she had dyed her hair for the programme, she said that purple is her colour, and that of her birthstone, her colour of luck.  She was not shy to praise herself in being kind and lovable!  She also cried, filled with emotion at having got so far.

Advertisements featured included those for sponsors Nederburg, Tsogo Sun, Woolworths (with beautiful food shots), new sponsor VW (with a tenuous food link), and Robertsons (many ads, but only one with Chef Reuben Riffel).  Other advertisers included Nespresso, Standard Bank, Spree.co.za, Dr Oetker Pizza Ristorante, and (oddly) Plascon paint.

For an overview of what is lying ahead for Season 2 read here. For behind the scenes information on the filming of Season 2 in January read here.   We want to clarify that M-Net has a strict procedure for interviewing contestants, all writers having to obtain permission from their PR Manager Ingrid Engelbrecht upfront.  The condition is that all writers have to submit their story to Ms Engelbrecht for approval and sometimes minimal editing before being allowed to publish it. We have agreed to follow this rule, so that we have the opportunity to write stories about the contestants during the course of season 2.  This appears to be an unusual procedure relative to other food reality TV shows, especially as we signed a confidentiality agreement before attending the Media Day.  This rule only applies to contestant interviews, and in no way affects writing a summary of each episode such as this one.

So how did the viewers judge the first episode?  The men were noticeably negative, using 4-letter words to describe how much they disliked the program.  Contestants Kamini and the two Van der Wat sisters received positive comments from them however.  Some power outages raised the question about repeat broadcasts. Some complaints were received about the loud music in the broadcast, overpowering the judges’ feedback. It is still early days for Season 2 of MasterChef SA!

POSTSCRIPT 12/6: Deena Naidoo, winner of MasterChef Season 1, Tweeted the following compliment about this blogpost today: As always a Great summary of Episode1 MasterChefSA season2 . You don’t miss much’.

MasterChef SA Season 2. Tuesdays and Wednesdays 19h30 – 20h30.  www.masterchefsa.dstv.co Twitter: @MasterChef_SA

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Please follow and like us:
error20
fb-share-icon3070
Tweet 27k
fb-share-icon20

MasterChef SA cooks with new ‘MasterChef South Africa: The Cookbook’!

I felt honoured to have been invited by Errieda du Toit to attend the Cape Town launch of ‘MasterChef South Africa: The Cookbook’ at Exclusive Books at Tygervalley on Thursday evening.  With a number of the finalists present, it was impressive to see how much camaraderie there is between the Finalists, even though the filming for the series ended more than six months ago.  The Cookbook documents the journey of the MasterChef SA finalists, in addition to their best recipes.

Published by Human & Rousseau, the text for the book was written by Errieda, the food was styled by Jacques Erasmus of Hemelhuijs, and photography of the food was done by Myburgh du Plessis, all under the editorship of Daleen van der Merwe, and is the ideal keepsake for everyone who loved MasterChef South Africa.  Errieda said that MasterChef SA was a landmark program, which changed the face of food in South Africa. Even children are becoming excited about cooking.

The book profiles each contestant and judge, and summarises each episode, sharing the best recipes of each contestant, e.g. Deena Naidoo’s prawn curry, Thys Hattingh’s Cherry Frangipane tart, Sarel Loots’ Boerewors with Polenta and butternut mash, Khaya Silingile’s Chicken Ballotine, Sue-Ann Allen’s Oysters with horseradish mayonnaise, Lungi Nhlanhla’s pork tails, Jade de Waal’s warm Cape berry chocolate tart with pistachio and cardamom ice cream, and Samantha Nolan’s Dutch croquettes.  Recipes for traditional South African dishes such as koeksister, koesiesters, denningvleis, tripe and phutu pap, Waterblommetjiebredie, and chicken pie, are also offered.  The book culminates in the Grande Finale, and Deena winning the title of first MasterChef SA.

Each page offers a tip or hint, or an interesting comment, by one of the MasterChef SA finalists.  There are guidelines to sustainable cooking, food and wine pairing suggestions by sponsor Nederburg, and Le Quartier Français Chef Vanie Padayachee’s tips for cooking curry.  Visiting chefs Peter Tempelhoff from The Greenhouse, Coco Reinharz from Le Petit Sel and Sel et Poivre in Sandton, Michel Roux Jnr from La Gavroche in London, Margot Janse at The Tasting Room, Michael Broughton from Terroir,  Reuben Riffel from Reuben’s, and Lorraine Meaney from the Cape Grace hotel, are captured in the Cookbook, and most have a recipe included in the book.

The book also provides background information on how many kilograms of butter (100), cheese (250), litres of fresh cream (100) and milk (600), 215 kg fresh herbs (no Robertsons spices were used, as they are not stocked by Woolworths, despite the joint sponsorship of MasterChef SA), and vegetables (200 kg onions, and a further 3 tonnes for the bootcamp, 100 kg mushrooms, and 250 kg avocado), 57 kg prawns, 165 kg chicken, 400 kg lamb, and more than 2500 eggs were used!

A number of the Cape-based MasterChef SA Finalists attended the book launch, including Sue-Ann (now a private chef, with her own demonstration kitchen at the newly opened V&A Market on the Wharf, Ilse Fourie (now a private chef), Guy Clark (now a private chef, having left the Madame Zingara group), Samantha, Charles Canning, Jade (who has recently published ‘Luscious’ vegetarian cookbook), and Lungi (now Deputy Food editor of Drum magazine).  Ilse and Sue-Ann have signed a book deal for ‘Gourmet Sisters’ for next year.  Sarel Loots travelled all the way from Sabie to be present, and Chef Pete Goffe-Wood also attended.

As MC, Errieda asked the Finalists how their lives had changed in the past year.  Sarel related that he did not expect to be moved emotionally, and to cry about food! He also shared that he was mobbed at the Good Food & Wine Show in Johannesburg. Sarel is about to launch a range of Boerewors with fruit chutney, in conjunction with a spice company, first in Mpumalanga, and then nationally.  Lungi shared that she has always been creative, and being creative about food was a further extension, showing who she is. Chef Pete said that he was seen to be ‘insensitive’ and tough, but he knew how much was at stake for each contestant, and how much they had given up in their professional and family lives to be there. Chef Pete was chased by a traffic cop for making a call on his cellphone – when they recognised him, the traffic cop told him he wanted to share how much he enjoyed MasterChef SA!  The traffic cop opened the highway for Chef Pete, so that he could get to his function on time, referring to this as ‘culinary corruption’!  Sue-Ann said that she is cooking for 120 guests with ease now, and that her knowledge of food and wine has improved dramatically.  Ilse said that she has learnt knife skills, and how to eat and cook, yet stay small, being a ‘plus size model’. The finalists were most gracious in signing the book, and writing personalised messages.

Food trends for 2013 are Refined (beautiful plates of food, even if one is making it for oneself), Clean (in its content and origin), and Considerate (evaluating its impact on the environment), said Sue-Ann.  Chef Pete added Sustainability, seeing this as THE food trend for the next ten years.  Consumers are becoming more aware about environmental responsibility, both in supermarkets and in restaurants.

A dinner at Zibaldone in the Tygerberg Waterfront after the launch was even more special, as it allowed one to get to know Lungi, Sue-Ann, Sarel, and Ilse even better, and provided interesting behind the scenes MasterChef SA information: The contestants stayed at the guest farm in Paarl for up to 10 weeks (Sue-Ann and Deena), and were cut off from all communication (no cellphones or internet connection was allowed, with only a few calls to their families). They shared rooms. There was a ghost in one of the accommodation buildings, which frightened Sue-Ann and Ilse, especially when most of the other contestants had been sent home. They got home late at night, and had to get up at 6h00 to be back on set. They made their own food at night when they got back to the guest farm. They were provided with loads of cookbooks.  The judges brought their own clothes, Woolworths not using the opportunity to market their clothing lines.  Sue-Ann and Deena had to buy their own clothes for the Grande Finale dinner cooked for them at Montecasino in Johannesburg, and bumped into Ilse at Canal Walk by absolute coincidence on that day, not being allowed to tell her anything. Not shown on the program, but shared with Sue-Ann, was that good performance was rewarded with a shopping pass, which allowed her time off to shop at Paarl Mall!  Almost all the contestants got on like a house on fire.  Some of the male finalists were like naughty boys, dropping insects on Ilse, who is petrified of them, and other even worse pranks.  Charles was the ‘papa bear’ and Samantha the ‘mama bear’ of the group.  It was 54° C in Zanzibar, the heat and humidity affecting everyone badly, even the judges.  A large number of the MasterChef SA team got food poisoning from eating the food at the Zanzibar night market, due to the food having been exposed to the heat throughout the day.  The Finalists were not allowed wine.

The two owners of Zibaldone, brothers Adriano and Roberto Pietrella originally from Umbria, were extremely generous, in sending antipasta to the table, including Vitello Tonnato (veal with tuna sauce), Coppa ham with a spelt, tomato and mozzarella salad, lamb tortellini, Veal Romana, and ending off with Tiramisu. I was impressed with Sarel’s love for food, so many months after the reality TV series, spending more time with the owners in the kitchen than at the table with us, always keen to learn something new.

The MasterChef SA interviews we had done during the season one series, and the book launch, showed how the Finalists have bonded, and become friends for life, it would seem, some becoming like brothers and sisters to each others. All the Finalists seem to have remained humble, even though they are instantly recognisable wherever they go.  They will become famous in the United Kingdom, the UK TV channel soon flighting our MasterChef SA series, Chef Pete announced on Thursday.  I asked Ilse, Sarel and Sue-Ann how they felt about season two of MasterChef SA, and each of them had a different reaction: Sarel said he is already working on building more Twitter followers, Ilse said she is concerned, while Sue-Ann said it will have no effect on them, as they were the first Finalists in the first MasterChef SA program in our country. Season two of MasterChef SA has commenced, the cold tests completed, and the hot dish tests are underway. Filming at Nederburg will probably start late in January, and flighting will be twice a week, on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, from about end March. Chef Pete said that the quality of the contestants is of a very high standard, having learnt a lot from MasterChef SA season one.  The new ‘MasterChef South Africa: The Cookbook’ is compulsory reading for all MasterChef SA hopefuls, and for the fans of the TV series.

MasterChef South Africa: The Cookbook, Human & Rousseau.  www.mnet.co.za/masterchefsa Twitter: @MasterChef _SA  Available at leading booksellers.  R350 recommended price.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Please follow and like us:
error20
fb-share-icon3070
Tweet 27k
fb-share-icon20

Should Twitter be used as a ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Red Room of Pain?

The EL James trilogy of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ books has become an international publishing phenomenon, the 40 million books sold to date outselling the previous world record book sales of all Harry Potter books combined.  The books describe the relationship between Christian Grey and his ‘submissive’, to become his girlfriend and then wife Anastasia Steele, one which is based on a perverse need by Grey to punish and dominate the lady he loves, reflecting his childhood of rejection and abuse.

The book refers to Christian Grey’s Red Room of Pain, and whenever Anastasia needs to be punished, she is taken into the room, for whipping and other dominant acts by Grey.

Having been the subject of a number of Twitter abuse accounts, I and others have tried to analyse why a Tweeter such as Sonia Cabano, who has created three of the four abuse Twitter accounts against ourselves, needs to lash out and ‘whip’ us at weekly intervals on her @SoniaCabano2 and the abuse Twitter accounts. Could she be the Christian Grey of Twitter, who can only deal with the anger of her day by lashing out at others, including ourselves, singer Steve Hofmeyr (her pet hate), and politicians?

Cabano has proudly Tweeted that she will Tweet whatever she wants to say, no matter how insulting or defamatory her Tweets are.  Her latest hobby horse pertains to our Twitter account, being convinced that we have ‘bought‘ Followers.  She has Tweeted the question on her personal Twitter account, on the Twitter abuse accounts, and sent the question as a comment to our blog on 15 August: ‘Would you care to explain to the hospitality and tourism industry at large how it is that you came to gain 22 000 fake bot Twitter followers overnight? Just asking. Sincerely Sonia Cabano’. As we do not accept advertising nor sponsorship on our blog, we do not need to push its readership (already having about 35000 unique readers per month built up over the past four years). We use Twitter (as well as Facebook) to alert potential readers to the new blogpost we write every day, and therefore it makes no difference to us as to how many Followers we have on Twitter.  Twitter Follower numbers vary daily, and we do not subscribe to any service which alerts us to new or to lost Twitter Followers.  We deny that we have paid for any of our 24800 Twitter Followers.  Every time Cabano lashes out, it attracts attention to our Blog and Twitter account, adding new readers and Followers.

We have been able to close down some of Cabano’s Twitter abuse accounts when they have been based on impersonation, purporting to be ourselves.  However Twitter strongly advocates freedom of speech, and generic account names, despite defamatory content, is unfortunately allowed.  We respect Facebook’s approach to abuse toward others – one warning, and the account is closed if it happens a second time.

Cabano had a short term stint as Social Media Manager for Robertson’s Spices in March, when MasterChef SA started, but she lost her position when she tried to settle personal scores on her client’s Twitter account.  She has been an international model, a TV presenter, and now is a cookbook writer, having written ‘Kombuis’, ‘Easy, Simple, and Delicious’, ‘Relish’, and ‘Luscious Vegetarian’, the latter book with her MasterChef SA Finalist niece Jade de Waal.

One wonders why Cabano has such a fascination with our Blog and Twitter account, when she can find nothing good to say about them, following in the Twitter abuse ‘footsteps’ of David Cope, who started the Whalespotter account, which has been taken over by Clare and Eamon ‘Mack’ McLoughlin of Spill Blog, with help from Skye Grove of Cape Town Tourism at one stage!  Could it be that Cabano, just like Christian Grey, has a perverse pleasure in inflicting pain on others, and needs this abuse to work through her being ‘tormented by inner demons, and consumed by the need to control’, just as the book describes Christian Grey in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey‘?

While we love Twitter and the information it provides and its entertainment value in being a ‘virtual lounge’ connecting thousands of viewers of events such as the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games, we are appalled that Twitter can allow defamatory and abusive Tweets. During the Olympic Games Tweets aimed at young British diver Tom Daley led to the Tweeter being detained, the UK having strict laws when it comes to abuse. One wishes that Twitter abuse and defamation would be dealt with in South African law as well.

Despite the abuse we have had to endure as a result of our honesty in writing this blog, we will persevere in writing the truth, no matter the cost!

POSTSCRIPT 20/8: A book ‘Return on Influence’ has been written by Mark Schaeffer, focusing on the power of Twitter Followers, and the influence of Tweeters.  He refers to Klout, the score of Social Media influence, evaluating one’s influence based on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Klout+ scores received, and Wikipedia coverage.  Today our Klout score is 65 (out of 100), with 892 of our Tweets Re-Tweeted and 1600 mentions of @WhaleCottage in others Tweets in the past 90 days.  Our Topics of Influence are Cape Town, Travel & Tourism, and Hotels, according to Klout.

POSTSCRIPT 21/8: Sonia Cabano only Tweeted once on her personal account yesterday (her usual quota is about 100 Tweets per day!). But she did lash out against this blogpost on her Twitter abuse account!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Please follow and like us:
error20
fb-share-icon3070
Tweet 27k
fb-share-icon20

MasterChef South Africa: has Season 1 been a success?

It is interesting to analyse how successful MasterChef South Africa has been, its final 19th episode being broadcast this evening, the winner of the first season being announced in the special 90 minute Grande Finale.  It would appear that the reality TV cooking program has been enjoyed by many South Africans, yet some aspects about it were disliked.

To judge the success of MasterChef SA we looked at quantitative information:

1.  Audience Ratings (ARs) are used by the South African advertising industry to quantify the success of a TV program.  ARs = Reach x Frequency, or the % of the Target Market reached.  It was explained by a media strategist that the AR statistics do not reflect viewership of M-Net repeats, and therefore they do not reflect the full number of viewers.  The AR of 0,8 achieved for MasterChef SA exceeds the expectation of 0,5 on an ‘All Adults’ target market filter, she said, and described the program as ‘world class’, ‘professional’, and with good production values.  A food TV producer felt the opposite, saying that M-Net must be very disappointed with the viewership achieved, its ultimate goal having been to sell more decoders.

2.  On Twitter the @MasterChef_SA account has grown to 11253 Followers.  One may have expected more Followers, for the stature of the programme.  When one reads the Timeline after an episode, the mix of South African Tweeters is evident, attracting commentary from male and female viewers, and from different language groups.  @RobertsonsSpice has only achieved 733 Followers, a very poor performance.  @Woolworths has 33 466 Followers, an exceptional number, but had embraced Twitter prior to its MasterChef SA sponsorship.  @Nederburg only has 1265 Followers, also disappointing for this sponsor.

3.  On Facebook the MasterChef SA page has 8511 likes, Robertsons Herbs and Spice has 1373, Nederburg 7544, and Woolworths an amazing 193676 likes!

4.  The YouTube videos of the Robertsons’ Masterclasses by Chef Reuben Riffel show the viewership, and it is understandable that some of the earlier videos would have the highest viewership.  The first Masterclass in week 1 (16 March) was for a ‘Cheesy Garlic Bread’, and has achieved 4154 views in the past four months.  ‘Stuffed Chicken Breast’ (30 April) has 3335 views to date. ‘Crepes’ (20 March) achieved 3201 views. ‘Pepper Sauce’ (19 March) was seen by 2882 viewers. ‘Chocolate Braaied Bananas’ (16 March) has achieved 2864 views. ‘Milktart’ (2 May) has 2732 views to date, and ‘Roast Chicken’ (15 May) has 2252.  The other videos have had lower viewership, some extremely low.  The viewership figures must be disappointing for Robertsons, and we could see a sharp drop-off in viewership growth two months ago, midway through the series. The dishes demonstrated by Chef Reuben were hardly of a ‘Masterclass’ stature!

5.  Arnold Tanzer was the leader of the MasterChef SA culinary team of eleven, which included Chef Vanie Padayachee from Le Quartier Français too, working behind the scenes in testing every recipe that the Finalists had to prepare, often more than once, checking the preparation times, and making sure that the challenges were ‘doable’.   Interesting was the article in the Sunday Times, detailing the quantities of food and liquid that the 19-series programme went through, supplied by Woolworths in the main: 62 kg mussels, 300 kg fish, 500 kg beef, 400 kg lamb, 165 kg chicken, 2592 free-range eggs, 250 kg of cheese, 215 kg of fresh herbs (mainly mint, thyme, and dill – there is no mention of Robertsons’ herbs and spices, which are not stocked by Woolworths), 100 kg mushrooms, 100 kg butter, 600 l Ayrshire milk, 200 kg onions, 240 l sunflower oil, 144 l olive oil, and many more ingredients.  These quantities used benefited the suppliers of these products.

6.  Twitter was a new social medium to most MasterChef SA Finalists, and they were encouraged to open Twitter accounts.  Deena Naidoo has by far the largest number of Followers at 1986, followed by Sarel Loots (1331), Jade de Waal (1254), Ilse Fourie (1019), and Lwazi Mngoma (1018). The other Finalists have very much lower Follower numbers.

Qualitatively, it was interesting to observe:

1.  Initially, no one went out on Tuesday evenings, being glued to their TV screens.  From Twitter one could see that after the first four weeks life started getting back to normal, and event organisers were not afraid to schedule functions on Tuesday evenings any longer.  The hype about MasterChef SA never reached that of the Australian series when flighted locally.

2.  Many TV viewers, especially men, were initially not interested in watching the program, but the talk on Twitter and in social circles enticed them eventually to watch the program. Towards the end of the series we saw fewer proactive Tweets about MasterChef SA, and fewer people talking about the reality series socially.

3.  Most restaurant staff were unable to watch, as they were working at the time of the program.  If they had access to a PVR, they watched a recording afterwards. Most of them do not seem to own a M-Net decoder, and seemed surprisingly uninformed about the reality TV series, or were not interested in it, most chefs seeing it as ‘amateurish’.

4.  Viewers expressed their extreme dissatisfaction with the judges’ decision to eliminate Guy Clark and not Jade de Waal in episode 9.  There was talk on Twitter about the elimination choice being a ‘production decision’, and many said that they would no longer watch the program due to the perceived rigged choices made.

5.  The program sponsorship will have benefited Woolworths and Nederburg, but the impact on Robertsons’ sales is not expected to be significant:

*   Woolworths has run superb food advertising during the MasterChef SA episodes, well matched to the theme of each episode, and creating amazing appetite appeal. In the episodes too the Woolworths Pantry was well-branded when the Finalists had to source their ingredients. Significant discounts offered to Woolworths card holders must have brought more feet into their stores. The sponsorship is said to have taken attention away from the embarrassing Frankies beverages debacle. Surprisingly the in-store branding of their sponsorship of the reality TV series was low key, with small banners at the tills.  The initial uproar caused by two recipes of the Woolworths Pantry guest food bloggers appeared to have blown over quickly.  The Woolworths sustainable seafood commercial linked to the seafood episode shot at Paternoster caused controversy, because the content of the advertisement was not reflected in its stores.

*   A media strategist interviewed for this blogpost fed back how she had started buying Nederburg wines again, now finding it trendy to do so, as a result of watching MasterChef SA. Despite the show being filmed at the wine estate, there was little Nederburg branding in the episodes.  Its commercials were less impactful than those of Woolworths, and many say that the ‘ingredient’ composition of the Nederburg wines shown in its commersials, to demonstrate the flavours of the wines, may have been taken literally, if viewers did not know better. Surprising was the low key product placement of Nederburg wines, given that the MasterChef SA kitchen was built for the show on the wine estate. A bottle of Amarula received prominence in a Mystery Box for a dessert, one episode focused on food and Nederburg wine pairing, which highlighted that Deena had little wine knowledge, and one episode featured the celebration of the harvest at Nederburg. Disappointing for Nederburg would be Deena Naidoo winning MasterChef SA tonight, as he does not appear to be a wine drinker, given that the prize includes a sommeliers’ course, and a year’s supply of their Winemasters Reserve range wines.

*   Robertsons went through the Social Media wars since MasterChef SA started in March, its endorsement by Chef Reuben Riffel having raised credibility and advertising honesty questions, and its Social Media Manager Sonia Cabano having been dismissed soon after she took on the job.  The end result is that Chef Reuben’s Robertsons’ endorsement has cost him credibility as a chef, and he appears to now be written out of the Robertsons’ advertising, only one of the five or six spice brand TV commercials featuring him in each of the last few episodes. A further blow to Chef Reuben’s credibility is his very recent endorsement of Rama margarine, also a Unilever brand. Robertsons did not manage its sponsorship well, in that registered ‘members’ of their Masterclass page were sent recipes unrelated to the previous day’s MasterChef SA episode, a marketing failure. In general, Robertsons went through a torrid time, and ‘MasterChef SA‘ must be a swearword inside its hallowed halls!  Its attempt at Social Media was a miserable failure in many respects, and appeared poorly managed, despite its use of the Liquorice social media marketing agency.

6.  The MasterChef SA series benefited sponsors Woolworths and Nederburg, jointly creating two wine brands specifically for the series (Grenache 2010, and a Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay blend). It also opened the door for Nederburg to sell its Winemasters Reserve range in Woolworths stores over the four month MasterChef SA broadcast period.  There was no cross-benefit between Woolworths and Robertsons, the retailer having to publicly admit on Twitter that it does not stock Robertsons spices and herbs.

7.  Initially the response to our competitions to predict the overall winner of MasterChef SA and the weekly Finalist leaving the show was surprisingly low, but increased the closer it got to the Finale, and the fewer the options for elimination and winning the grand prize became. The readership of our weekly MasterChef SA episode summary the day after the show saw an increase week by week. Restaurant staff working on Tuesday evenings, international readers, and local non-subscribers who cannot view M-Net, and surprisingly even viewers of the program, fed back that they read our MasterChef SA weekly write-ups. We got hooked onto MasterChef SA, loving writing up each episode, and will miss the Tuesday evening programmes.

8.  MasterChef SA dislikes focused strongly on the judges, particularly the expression on Chef Andrew Atkinson’s face, his dress, and his stare at the Finalists when judging their dishes. Chefs who have met him, however, say that this is not him at all, and praise his culinary skills.  Chef Pete Goffe-Wood attracted negative criticism from the second half of the series onwards. Chef Benny Masekwameng was the most loved judge by far, always kind and supportive to the Finalists. In general chefs felt that the chef judges should have worn chef outfits, and not worn earrings and piercings, to set a good example to young chefs.  Interesting is that every guest chef wore a chef’s outfit in the series.   Initial feedback at the start of the series was critical of all the chef judges being male. After Chef Margot Janse’s appearance, she was judged by Twitterers to have been an ideal judge.

9.  The program series has been criticised for the poor quality food that the Finalists prepared for many weeks, although this criticism subsided in the last few programs, when the Finalists had to replicate dishes made by top chefs Michel Roux Jnr of La Gavroche, Peter Tempelhoff of The Greenhouse, and Margot Janse of Le Quartier Français.  Linked to this is the chefs’ criticism about the prize of a year-long (now extended to two years) contract at MondeVino restaurant at Montecasino, saying it is irresponsible, as none of the Finalists could step into the shoes of a restaurant chef, who has had years of training and experience, and said that it is demeaning to their career to imply that little or no training is required.

10.   There is no doubt that MasterChef SA has stimulated an interest in cooking, and in trying out more complicated dishes.  It probably has stimulated interest in eating out at restaurants such as Terroir, The Greenhouse, Biesmiellah, Sel et Poivre, and The Tasting Room, all featured in the series.

11.  The most gratifying end result of MasterChef SA has been the growth in the Finalists’ cooking skills, in what they learnt from the judges, and the Masterclasses held by the visiting chefs. They also grew vastly in confidence. Chef Arnold Tanzer fed back in the Sunday Times that ‘you could see the change in people as the series went on, particularly how their perception of food changed‘.  He added that he was surprised that even the film crew members were excited about what they had filmed, and wanted advice on how to make some of the dishes. A number of the Finalists have made the best of their MasterChef SA participation:  Berdina Schurink has opened Bella Sophia Culinary Café in Pretoria; Thys Hattingh has changed jobs, now working at the Compass Group as a staff restaurant consultant; Guy Clark changed careers, and now is a chef for the Madame Zingara group, at Café Mozart and at Bombay Bicycle Club; Charles Canning and Samantha Nolan have a stand at the Old Biscuit Mill market on Saturdays, following in the footsteps of Chef Pete; and Lungi Nhlanhla is now deputy food editor at Drum magazine. There is not one Finalist that has not benefited from his or her participation in MasterChef SA, being a springboard to living their passion for cooking.  Tonight it will be Sue-Ann Allen or Deena Naidoo who will walk off with the MasterChef SA 2012 crown, and one of their lives will change forever!  We wish them both the best of luck.

POSTSCRIPT 28/7: A furore has been created by The Citizen, reporting yesterday that MasterChef SA winner Deena Naidoo was unhappy about the misrepresentation of his Tsogo Sun MondoVino restaurant prize, damaging the image of the reality TV series, M-Net, its sponsors, Finalists, and chef judges.

POSTSCRIPT 28/7:  Times Live has published audience figures, to highlight the success of MasterChef SA TV series: MasterChef SA had the 5th highest viewership on M-Net between its start in March and 24 July, beaten by ‘Carte Blanche’ (265939 viewers), ‘Lincoln Lawyer’ movie with Matthew McConaughey (221411), ‘CSI Miami’ (202102), and ‘Idols’ (196698).  The reality cooking show beat ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ on viewership.  M-Net had capitalised on the trend to viewership of cooking programs in producing the local MasterChef SA TV series.  No decision has been made about producing a Season 2 of MasterChef SA next year.

POSTSCRIPT 29/8: If the article from Channel 24 is correct (it is part of the same media group that owns M-Net), there will be a season 2 of MasterChef SA, another measure of the success of the reality TV series. M-Net has not confirmed this.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Please follow and like us:
error20
fb-share-icon3070
Tweet 27k
fb-share-icon20

MasterChef SA episode 12: Chef Reuben Riffel ‘underpins’ Khaya Silingile, Jade de Waal’s Gateau melts her out of reality show!

It seems that every second MasterChef SA episode is an exciting one, making the one hour reality TV show fly past, and keeping one on edge. Last night’s episode 12 was one of these, with Finalist Khaya Silingile cooking against Chef Reuben Riffel for an Immunity Pin, and the three Pressure Test Finalists Thys Hattingh, Deena Naidoo, and Jade de Waal being put to a three hour challenge to bake and make a Passion Hazelnut Gateau.

One knew from last week’s episode that Chef Reuben and Khaya would be facing a cooking duel, Khaya having won last week’s food and Nederburg wine pairing. The stakes were high for both parties – Chef Reuben’s reputation would be damaged if he lost against a MasterChef SA Finalist, whereas Khaya could win an Immunity Pin, which would offer her immunity against participation in future elimination challenges, bar the last two episodes. This was the first battle for the Immunity Pin in this series.  Chef Reuben brought along a beautiful looking Seafood fricassée with gnocchi and vegetables, a colourful dish with prawns, an unidentified fish, and the vegetables adding colour.  Given that it was Chef Reuben’s receipe, and had been prepared prior to the filming, so that Khaya could see and taste it, she was given a 15 minute headstart in the total of 80 minutes preparation time.  She was given the recipe for the dish, and Chef Reuben was very nice in checking how she was doing throughout the cooking process.  Khaya liked the look of the dish, saying that it has ‘very clean lines, a technical dish’, suiting her style, and admitted that she had never prepared gnocchi before, making her a ‘bit worried’ about it. Cheekily she asked Chef Reuben how she could beat him, and he said she should stick to the recipe! Chef Reuben said she was ‘doing very well’, when he was checking on her progress.  The judges also praised Khaya, talking amongst themselves, saying she is ‘giving him a run for his money’, having energy, and being dedicated. Khaya seemed relaxed, and was cheered on by and advised about ingredients from her fellow Finalists from the gallery above.  Talking out loud, Khaya told herself that she should ‘relax’ and ‘focus’. When done, she said that her dish did not taste like Chef Reuben’s.  As we have seen in precious episodes, she expressed her lack of self-confidence, saying that her fish had not cooked properly.

Chef Reuben hugged her when the judges provided their feedback, having evaluated the two dishes by tasting them ‘blind‘.  What turned out to be Khaya’s dish (number 1) was awarded 7/10 by Chef Andrew Atkinson, and was praised for its beautiful colours, for being very tasty, perfectly cooked fish, but that the sauce could have been seasoned more. Chef Benny Masekwameng gave her 8/10, liking the ‘lovely aromas‘, while Chef Pete Goffe-Wood gave her 7/10, saying that it was delicious. Chef Reuben’s dish (number 2) was awarded 8/10 by Chef Andrew, and was praised for its ‘lovely deep colour of the sauce’. Chef Pete awarded it 9/10, saying it was ‘beautifully crafted’, ‘superb’, the fish was perfectly cooked, and said that the sauce pulled the dish together. Chef Benny also rated it as 9/10, and said that the only problem with the dish was that there was not enough of it. The gnocchi of his dish was criticised, not being as good as Khaya’s, and let the dish down. Chef Reuben’s dish won with a 4-point margin, not surprising in that it was his dish made many times before, while Khaya made it for the first time, an unfair challenge. Realistically, MasterChef SA and its main sponsor Robertsons could not have allowed being embarrassed by Khaya beating their ‘seasoned’ spokesperson Chef Reuben!

Interesting is a new Robertsons’ commercial, which was flighted in this episode for the first time, in which Chef Reuben reflects what he likes to cook for friends at home, clearly aimed at addressing the criticism that he probably does not use Robertsons’ herbs and spices in his three Reuben’s restaurants. His three course meal of a butternut soup with cinnamon, a roast chicken main course, and chocolate mousse with a touch of chilli for home entertaining lacks credibility, given that he is a chef.

The Pressure Test was a three hour nightmare for all three the Finalists, in that they had to bake and make a Passion Hazelnut Gateau. Cape Grace hotel Pastry Chef Lorraine Meaney had worked at the Prue Leith School of Cooking for eight years, Chef Pete said when he introduced her. The three finalists tasted her gateau, praising its texture. Jade was amazed that ‘one can see one’s reflection in the cake’. Chef Lorraine explained that the gateau had a pastry base, with layers of hazelnut dacquoise, chocolate mousse, cream, and passion fruit, covered with a chocolate glaze.  She told the finalists that a successful gateau lies in its timing, the accuracy in weighing the ingredients, and the technique in making the different elements.

Thys was over-confident initially, given that desserts have been his speciality and passion in the episodes up to now, and he repeatedly said that he ‘love(s) desserts so much’, ‘this is what I love doing’, ‘I am comfortable with sweet stuff, and am in my comfort zone’, and was so excited to prepare the gateau. The judges talked amongst themselves, saying that Thys had probably made all the individual elements in the past, but not put them together in a gateau before. Disaster struck when Thys’ mousse had not set, because he had whipped it, and the second lot he made had the same fate, remaining liquid. Finalist Sue-Ann Allen tried to encourage him from the gallery, and looked very worried for her fellow finalist. He served his gateau without the chocolate mousse, admitting ‘I messed up’.  The judges liked the taste of the crunchy biscuit base with a lovely texture, and well-balanced passion fruit of his ‘gateau’, Chef Andrew saying that it was ‘not far off‘, despite the lack of the chocolate mousse.  Thys said that he loves desserts so much, but now saw that it could have become his downfall.

Deena expressed his fear, being up against one of the best bakers in the competition, saying that he had ‘no experience with this type of cooking and baking‘. While he was working, he said that he is ‘struggling along’ and that he was in ‘foreign waters‘, when talking to Chef Pete. He started in the wrong sequence, which made him even more nervous. Talking about him, the judges said that he was ‘all over the place’, and ‘falling behind’.  He seemed to lose faith in himself, saying repeatedly ‘I can’t do this’, and that he was ‘giving up’. Saying that he was ‘battling to survive’, and ‘have to draw on inner strength‘, he shared how a ‘strength came over me‘, and ‘they guided me today’, looking upward.  Deena’s gateau had set perfectly, and so the Finalist that was most likely to not make it in terms of experience and confidence prepared the best gateau of the three contestants. Its form and presentation was praised, and so was Deena in having done a ‘good job‘. Chef Pete praised the ‘lovely glaze‘, and said that he didn’t think that he would see a cake of this calibre‘, to which Deena replied: that makes four of us‘! Holding Chef Andrew in awe as a pastry chef, Deena was delighted when he was praised by him. His cake was described as ‘absolutely superb‘, and with beautiful flavours and textures‘. Deena was delighted, saying the feedback hadrekindled his self-confidence’.

Jade saw the making of the gateau as an ‘adventure’, confidently saying ‘let’s do this’.  She said that ‘baking is all about perfection‘.  She received advice about her cream from Chef Pete.  Jade too had concerns with her mousse, ‘praying’ that her mousse had set. Her panna cotta had not set, and ‘melts into nothingness’, she said.  As she did her glaçage, which was too hot, the cake ‘starts running away’, she said, just as she wanted to refrigerate it, making her heart melt, and saying that her ‘cake is all over the place‘.  Jade said that she had not done her cake justice. Chef Pete said her biscuit base was too thick but was ‘beautiful and crisp’, and that her meringue was still raw in the middle. Chef Benny added that her glaze was too thick, saying that her gateau was ‘a mess on a plate’.  Chef Andrew praised her biscuit base, and ‘delicate and rich chocolate mousse’.  In eliminating Jade, she was praised for starting well, but then went ‘haywire’, and that the meringue was not properly baked.  Chef Pete sent her on her way, saying that she is a ‘crazy young woman‘, of whom he expects ‘huge things’ in future.

The remaining eight finalists were reminded that they should always expect the unexpected on MasterChef SA, and Thys was told that he should pack his bags… and so should the other seven finalists, as they were heading for the spice islands of Zanzibar!   This news was met with great excitement.

POSTSCRIPT 6/6: I popped in at the Cape Grace hotel this afternoon, to see their Afternoon Tea, and found two of Pastry Chef Lorraine Meaney’s cakes – a delicious chocolate cake, and a gluten-free orange and lavender cake.  She was able to chat, and was generous with her time, and we were ‘entertained’ for a while by Andre Pentz, who happened to be in the hotel too.  On Saturday and Sunday the hotel is offering mini versions of Chef Lorraine’s MasterChef SA Passion Hazelnut Gateau from 12h00 – 18h00, at R50 each.  She shared that the leaf gelatine had been the biggest challenge in making the gateau in the episode last night. She remembered how hot it was in the MasterChef SA kitchen on the day that the Pressure Test took place, and that influenced the Gateau preparation.  She had brought her Gateau from Cape Town, and glazed it at Nederburg on arrival, ‘praying‘ that it would arrive in good condition. She said that the episode last night was a ‘triumph for Pastry Chefs’, to show ‘how technical pastry is’, that it is a ‘specialisation’, and not just something ‘just banged together‘.  Chef Lorraine uses Valrhona chocolate for her baking. She lectured at the Prue Leith School of Cooking in Pretoria, the finest in the country she said, spending eight years there and becoming its principle, before she left eighteen months ago to move to Cape Town and to join the Cape Grace.

POSTSCRIPT 10/6: Errieda du Toit, her husband Ian, MasterChef SA cookbook publisher Daleen van der Merwe, and I loved Cape Grace Pastry Chef Lorraine Meaney’s mini Passion Hazelnut Chocolate Gateau, a special which was offered for afternoon tea this weekend. The special treat may be extended, Library Manager Roxy told us.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Please follow and like us:
error20
fb-share-icon3070
Tweet 27k
fb-share-icon20

MasterChef SA episode 12: Which Finalist will be booted? Win with Burrata!

MasterChef SA is the talk of the country, and we have seven more gripping episodes to look forward to. To spice things up a little, we have launched two competitions, the first being a prediction of who will win MasterChef SA in episode 18.

We are also running a weekly lucky draw for the correct prediction of who our readers think will be booted out of the MasterChef SA every week.  For the correct prediction of who will leave MasterChef SA in episode 12 (5 June), Burrata has generously offered a restaurant voucher to the value of R400 to the winner.  Thys Hattingh, Jade de Waal, and Deena Naidoo are in the Pressure Test in this episode.

The opening of Burrata at the Old Biscuit Mill in March had been eagerly awaited, with its owner Neil Grant coming from 2011 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Rust en Vrede (he was the sommelier when he ran the restaurant with chef David Higgs).  Burrata is not a pizzeria, and it’s not an Italian restaurant. It is a unique, friendly, and welcoming restaurant which, with its neighbours The Pot Luck Club and The Test Kitchen,  makes the Old Biscuit Mill and Woodstock an exciting restaurant destination.  The red pizza oven imported from Naples catches one’s eye immediately, unlike any seen locally, with a more modern design.  The pizzaiolo pizza makers use peels imported from Italy to stretch the pizza, to create the correct shape and to place it in the oven, and to turn the pizza around once it is in the oven, to ensure that the pizza is equally cooked.  Burrata backer Barry Engelbrecht is a pizza aficionado, and has attended pizza-making courses around the world, and he trained the staff in pizza-making.

The red pizza oven creates the decor foundation, and the use of red and black extends into the staff uniforms, Maxwell Williams salt and pepper grinders, material serviettes into which the Forum cutlery is rolled, the sugar bowls, and on the menu and winelist covers.  Beautiful Italian Luigi Bormioli glasses made in Parma enhance the special wines served. A special state-of-the-art red hand meat slicer has a place of honour inside the restaurant. The kitchen is open plan, behind glass, and visible to diners. Charming front-of-house hostess is Swiss Isabella Immenkamp, who was a sommelier at Grande Roche previously.  She is very attentive, and European in her service delivery. Chef Annemarie Steenkamp comes from Le Quartier Français, where she spent five years.  The menu has a collection of delectable pizzas, as well as Chef Annemarie’s creations, including pork belly, roasted rib eye, a selection of pasta dishes, and risotto with caramelised onion.  The service and personal attention is exceptional, the best experienced in a very long time. The wine list is comprehensive, reflecting Neil’s passion. Burrata is friendly and welcoming, with reasonable prices. As Chairman of the South African Sommeliers’ Association, Neil has prepared a 50 hour wine appreciation program for the MasterChef South Africa winner on behalf of Nederburg, for its parent company Distell.

Tweet your prediction of which of the 9 remaining finalists will be booted out of MasterChef SA to @WhaleCottage, or e-mail it to whalecot@iafrica.com. Closing time for entries is Tuesday 5 June at 19h30, at the start of episode 12.  The winner will be contacted immediately after the show ends. There will be a weekly Restaurant Voucher prize draw per episode for the correct prediction of who will be booted out of MasterChef SA, and voting for the following episode can start as soon as that day’s episode has been aired. Should there be no correct entry received, the prize is rolled over to go to another week.

POSTSCRIPT 5/6: Tonight’s prediction was not too difficult, given that the three Pressure Test finalists were already announced last week.  Jade de Waal received the most votes for elimination this evening, and the voters were spot on in mirroring the judges’ decision to send Jade de Waal home.  Congratulations to Anita Moser for winning the Burrata voucher.

POSTSCRIPT 19/6: We received this lovely e-mail from Anita Moser, winner of the Burrata voucher: ‘Dear Chris, A belated thanks for the voucher to eat at Burrata. My husband and I enjoyed a delicious meal there last Thursday evening.  We were welcomed by Neil at the door. He was expecting us as I had sent him an e-mail earlier in the week requesting a booking and attaching the voucher. We have a mutual friend and it served as a good opening to our conversation.  Neil came to explain the menu and offered his assistance in choosing our wine. Leon chose the bruschetta with prosciutto, rocket and grated walnuts while I had the fritto misto with pesto. My deep fried seafood and vegetables were delicious with a lovely dipping sauce and Leon enjoyed his bruschetta as well. Leon had a glass of Howard Booysen Riesling as suggested by Neil with his starter. It was a lovely wine which we normally not would have chosen.  I had the deboned lamb neck paired with Cederburg Cabernet Sauvignon  and Leon chose the slow cooked short rib with papardelle paired with a Sequilo Red blend which was an exceptionally nice wine. Once again my choice was the tastier option even though we still enjoyed Leon’s short rib very much.  We yielded to temptation and shared the chocolate mousse and panna cotta dessert which did not disappoint. We finished off with 2 Americanos and had a lovely meal. Neil chatted to us throughout the meal. He was attentive, but never interfering. He emphasised that we must sit back and relax, which we did, but he unfortunately had to leave unexpectantly after our main course arrived due to a crisis (at home?).  We will definitely be back and would like to try the pizza as well.  Kind regards, Anita Moser’.

Burrata, Old Biscuit Mill, Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 447-6505.  www.burrata.co.za Twitter: @BurrataSA   Tuesday – Saturday, Lunch and Dinner.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.comTwitter:@WhaleCottage

Please follow and like us:
error20
fb-share-icon3070
Tweet 27k
fb-share-icon20

MasterChef SA episode 11: Marriage between food and Nederburg wines a match made in heaven, no Finalist elimination!

What an exciting show MasterChef South Africa episode 11 was last night, with a number of surprises, including VIP guests having to evaluate the remaining nine Finalists’ pairing of their food and the Nederburg wine they selected, and the ability of the winner of the best dish to earn an Immunity pin, providing immunity against all Pressure Tests with the exception of the last two stages, if he/she wins in a cook-off against a top chef, which turned out to be Chef Reuben Riffel.  No Finalist was eliminated, the first time in any of the past episodes, but the three Finalists going into the Pressure Test in episode 12 were selected.

The judges congratulated the Finalists on being the final nine, and reminded them that it was ‘time to shine’. Called an Invention Test, preparing food paired with beautiful wines, where 1 + 1 = 3, can also go horribly wrong, said Chef Pete Goffe-Wood. Immediately Deena Naidoo spoke to the camera, saying that he had never ever drunk wine, and that his knowledge of it was ‘dismal‘. Chef Pete said that in food and wine pairing, one seeks a ‘balance’, and that the texture of the food should match the texture of the wine. They should not fight each other.

Nederburg Cellarmaster Razvan Macici spoke to each wine that the Finalists selected in a wine cooler, and they had 90 minutes to prepare a dish that was suited to the character of the wine. In this episode it wasn’t only the three judges that evaluated the pairing – they were joined by seven VIPs, being Unathi Msengana (radio and TV personality), Desmond Dube (singer and actor), Springbok rugby player Breyton Paulse, model Ryan Botha, Milan Murray (actress), R&B singer Loyiso Bala, and Drum food editor Siba Mtongana, and therefore they had to prepare ten portions of their dish.

*   Nederburg Sauvignon Blanc was chosen by Ilse Fourie, and the wine was described as fresh and crisp, and suitable to be served with seafood.  Ilse decided against serving prawns, given the time that it would take to clean them, so she chose to make roasted salmon served on a bed of asparagus, and a sauce made of oranges and gooseberries, to balance the acidity.  The guests praised her perfect vegetables, and her food brought out the best in the wine.

*   Nederburg Winemasters Reserve Rosé was chosen by Lungi Nhlahla, and she was told that it is well paired with fish. She chose to make a seared ostrich salad with a balsamic sauce.  The guests enjoyed it, saying that they would have it ‘any time’.

*   Manisha Naidu seemed nervous when she was allocated the Pongracz Rosé, a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blend, well paired with oysters. When she started off, she said that she had struck a blank as to what to prepare with her sparkling wine.  She decided to make a dessert, with white chocolate ganache, mint, almonds, and a strawberry soup which contained the Pongracz.  She was praised for having done a ‘great job’.

*   A stylish-looking Khaya Silingile chose the Nederburg Winemasters Reserve Noble Light Harvest, the wine brand’s ‘most awarded wine‘ in the range, excellent to serve with patés. She chose to make a trio of chocolate desserts (panna cotta, fondant, and truffle), but ran out of time, the panna cotta not having enough time to set. She opted for a fondant only, served with a berry coulis. It had a very rich sauce, with a nice crusty top and ‘gooey inside’, and gave the wine structure, the guests said.

*   Nederburg Merlot was described as being ‘robust’, good to serve with duck, fruit, pizza, pasta, and roasts, and was the choice of Deena.  He decided to prepare a lamb curry, but Chef Pete warned him against ‘overpowering the wine with the curry’. Chatting amongst themselves, the judges agreed that Deena’s curry and tomato ‘will kill the Merlot’. The guests were silent when they tasted his curry, nodding their heads in approval, saying it was ‘yummy’. Yet Chef Pete said that the vinegar, tomato, and spices in his dish made the wine ‘tannic’.

*   Sarel Loots chose Nederburg Riesling, to be served with intense aromatic dishes. He surprisingly chose to make a curry, not having done well with it in a previous challenge, but said that he had mastered it since. His dish was to be a light chicken curry in a butternut case, served with apricot purée and roti.  His dish was praised by the guests, describing it as well presented, and a ‘delight’ in its match with a complex wine.

*   Nederburg Winemakers Reserve Shiraz has berry flavours and spiciness, and should be paired with spicy lamb, kebabs, and souvlaki. This wine was chosen by Jade de Waal. She chose to make lentils, Mediterranean vegetables, ravioli, and a Shiraz poached beef fillet, but said that she had blown it away. Her guests contradicted themselves in their feedback, saying that they ‘like the girl but not the dish’, ‘quite bland‘, ‘strong taste’, ‘meat not great‘, and that ‘the elements were not connected’, said Chef Pete.

*   Sue-Ann Allen chose the Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon, the ‘biggest’ of the wines in weight and texture, best served with red meat. She chose to make beef fillet, which was enjoyed by her guests, and they liked its ‘simplicity’.

*   Thys Hattingh selected the Nederburg Chardonnay, with vanilla and citrus notes, a good match with grilled fish and cheese, a versatile wine. He chose to make an open lasagne with mushrooms and herbs, ‘a simple dish with lots of flavour’, he said, its creaminess pairing well with the wooded and creamy Chardonnay. He seemed to have a problem with his pasta, taking forever to cook. Bravely he had made his own pasta for the first time. The guests described his dish as ‘more buttery’, ‘richer’, ‘very nice’, ‘too rich’, ‘too oily’, contradictory feedback, but his pasta was praised.

All the Finalists were praised by the judges for their ‘outstanding’ job, and were given a round of applause. Khaya’s chocolate fondant was chosen as the top dish, described as ‘superb’ by Chef Andrew Atkinson, which led her to burst into tears.  It was explained to her that she would go up against guest chef Reuben Riffel, and should she beat him in the cook-off, she would win the Immunity pin. Chef Reuben was introduced as putting Monneaux restaurant onto the map when it was named an Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant, before he went overseas, returning to open Reuben’s Franschhoek in 2004, and winning Eat Out Top Chef and Top Restaurant six months later.  Chef Reuben said that he is passionate about ‘fresh produce‘, ironic given his Robertsons’ endorsement!

The three Finalists that were chosen to go into the Pressure Test in episode 12 are Thys, for his dish being too rich and oily, but with great pasta; Jade, for her flavours not combining, and not complementing her Shiraz; and Deena, his first Pressure Test, as his dish did not complement the Merlot. His reaction was: ‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger‘!  The next episode is likely to be an exciting one, in that the three Finalists need three hours to prepare their Pressure Test dishes. It will also show the cooking duel between Chef Reuben and Khaya.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Please follow and like us:
error20
fb-share-icon3070
Tweet 27k
fb-share-icon20

MasterChef SA episode 10: Family budget meal, too many cooks spoil the broth for Samantha Nolan!

It was a less exciting episode 10 of MasterChef South Africa last night, with the challenge to the ten finalists to prepare a family meal within a budget of R150.  The three finalists who went into the Elimination Challenge had to fix a Minestrone soup, and it was Samantha Nolan who had to leave the MasterChef SA kitchen, a shame given her leadership role and her ability to keep a cool head under pressure in previous episodes.

The visit by Abigail Donnelly, Food editor of the Woolworths-owned Taste magazine and editor of restaurant guide Eat Out, added an extra dimension to the tension, joining the judges. The brief was to prepare a family meal for four persons within a budget of R150, but had to be ‘worthy of royalty’, they were told.  The finalists were told by Mrs Donnelly that budgeting is part of the real world.  She said that she would judge the dishes based on taste, they ‘should not be too fancy‘, and they should ‘showcase the beauty on the plate’.  They had 60 minutes in which to complete the dish.  They had to select ingredients from the Woolworths Pantry within the budget limit, but it was evident that none of them had a calculator with them to tally up their grocery cost.  Chef Pete Goffe-Wood had an über calculator, and did the honours for each finalist.  Only Lungile Nhlahla came in within budget.  The other nine finalists had to give up ingredients to make the budget balance, Khaya Silingile being most over budget, at R265!  She admitted that she was a ‘ditz’, having gone over budget. In summary, Chef Pete told the finalists that going over budget would have led their restaurants to go under within 6 months.

Chicken seemed to be the most popular choice for the finalists’ family meals, only Samantha choosing to prepare poached trout (served with Asian vegetables and egg noodles as well as asparagus cream), and Jade de Waal making pork poached in milk (using bay leaves and lemon) served with creme fraiche, salad, parmesan, and pasta, admitting that she may have cooked her pork for too long, and that it may therefore be too tough.  While the finalists were preparing their dishes, Mrs Donelly and the judges discussed how some of the finalists push their limits and show amazing technique.  But she noticed that many do not taste their dishes.  Deena Naidoo made chicken schnitzel with a parmesan coating and mushroom sauce, which was praised by the judges for his delicious farm-style budget within budget. Mrs Donnelly said he made the ‘chicken proud’. Khaya deboned two chicken legs and stuffed them with red onion and aubergine, serving them with corn bread.  The judges were shocked that she would only serve two pieces of chicken for four persons.  She countered that she was challenging the ‘spirit of ubuntu between the chefs in sharing’ her food. Her bread was said to be too salty. Chef Pete said that she had shone in the previous episode in winning the international challenge, but that it had not been in evidence in yesterday’s episode. The chicken lacked flavour and intensity, she was told. Khaya said that she was the only finalist that had not been in a pressure test. Lungile was praised for her ‘rustic family-style’ meal, even though her portion sizes were criticised for being too small. The texture was praised, the polenta had a sweetness, and the chicken was perfectly roasted.  Jade’s salad was said to be creative, and her crispy sage was liked by the judges. However, her pasta was not seasoned, and her pork dish did not work, she was told. She admitted that she did not put out her best.   Thys Hattingh had a very quick review, his parmesan crisp being the tastiest of the whole dish. Samantha’s roasted onions were said to be too robust for the delicate poached trout. Mrs Donnelly said that she was disappointed with the asparagus cream, not really tasting it, and the roasted onions overpowered the dish. Chef Pete said that he would only eat the pasta. Manisha Naidu was highly praised by the judges, being told that she ‘truly has a palate to get flavours right’, said Chef Benny Masekwameng. Mrs Donnelly praised her for a ‘beautiful balanced plate of food’, and her dish was judged to be the best, the care and generosity coming from ‘the heart and soul’.  Mrs Donnelly loved her bottled sauce so much that she wanted the recipe for it.  While the Finalists were cooking, Woolworths ran a fabulous looking ad, inviting one to eat in for four persons, at R150, with chicken, and tiramisu for dessert.  No dishes were shown for Sarel Loots, Ilse Fourie, and Sue-Ann Allen.

The bottom three finalists were selected as Jade, Khaya, and Samantha, and were sent to the Elimination Challenge. Chef Pete brought in a big pot of Minestrone soup that had ‘purposely been ruined‘, and their challenge was to ‘get it back on track’. Chef Pete explained that things do go wrong in the kitchen, and the challenge for a chef is to rectify this.  A table contained bowls of ingredients, and each of the three finalists was given six opportunities to collect ingredients from the table.  They were told that the ‘worst tasting soup‘ goes home.  Samantha commented that the soup ‘looks like dishwater with left-over vegetables’. She selected red onions, butter beans, garlic, tomato paste, and pancetta (Italian bacon), but chopped the pancetta (sourced from Wild Peacock Food Emporium, they Tweeted proudly during the show) into cubes, which Chef Pete said was incorrect, as Minestrone is a meatless vegetable soup. The soup tasted too much of the pancetta. Chef Benny added that Samantha had shown throughout the program that she could not get seasoning right, either having too much or too little. The tomato paste and garlic should have been added earlier by her, Chef Pete said.  Khaya added red onion, garlic, fresh tomato, tomato paste, as well as coriander, which she assumed was parsley.  Chef Pete was critical of the soup in having become a tomato soup, making it more Mexican and less Italian. The judges coughed on tasting her soup, there being too much pepper, but they liked its chunkiness.  Jade identified that the soup lacked body and flavour, and she added pancetta for the flavour (but removed it before plating the soup), garlic, celery, and parmesan.  She was praised for adding and then removing the pancetta, giving her soup a smokiness, Chef Andrew Atkinson said. Chef Pete said that the soup had great balance of flavour, and that her stock had ‘beautiful body’.

Chef Benny was very ‘talkative’ on Twitter during the show last night, and made some funny comments.  He remarked on Khaya’s red lipstick, saying she was wearing it for luck!  He called Manisha the ‘Flavour Queen’ on Twitter too.  Chef Andrew’s blue shirt was criticised on Twitter, and once again many wrote that Khaya should have gone home, given that she did not know coriander from parsley.  Criticised too was that Ilse Fourie’s dishes rarely are featured, as happened last night.

It was Samantha that was sent home last night, and she was told that she can ‘cook with passion, and that no one can take that away from you‘. She said that she ‘will never forget any of it’!

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

Please follow and like us:
error20
fb-share-icon3070
Tweet 27k
fb-share-icon20

MasterChef SA episode 9: Around the world 11 ways, Twice Baked 3 Cheese Soufflé falls flat for Guy Clark!

A TV screen at The Grand Cafe and Rooms in Plettenberg Bay that lost its picture just as MasterChef SA started was an exciting start to episode 9 last night, but the problem was quickly fixed when I was moved to another room.  The Finalists were sent around the world in the dishes that they had to create, sending four of the eleven Finalists to the ‘Pressure Test’, and leading to gorgeous Guy Clark being eliminated.

Each Finalist chose a country and with it a method of preparation, having 90 minutes to prepare their dish.  Not all Finalists were visible in this episode, and only some of the Finalists were interviewed and their dishes shown.  Sarel Loots chose Brazil, and decided to make a chocolate dessert, with custard, and mango, all elements steamed. His dish got raised eyebrows from Chef Benny Masekwameng. He was berated for not making something ‘more MasterChef’, to show his technique. The dish was said to be ‘not good enough’.  Thys Hattingh chose Morocco, and decided to make a pear dessert poached in a Nederburg wine, to criticism of Chef Pete Goffe-Wood, given that Morocco is a Muslim country.  With this he prepared a sweet couscous and cinnamon custard.  He said he has ‘dessert in his genes’, influenced by his mom.  He received the highest praise from Chef Pete, saying that it was ‘visually beautiful’, and that he would ‘pay a lot of money in a top restaurant for that’.  Chef Bennie liked the custard, calling it a ‘lovely dish’.   Samantha Nolan was proudly South African, and chose to make vetkoek and mince, with a peach chutney.  Chef Benny was critical of her spice choice for the mince, which included cardamom, chilli, cumin, ginger, garlic, and tumeric.  Her vetkoek was praised by him for its light golden brown colour and for being ‘perfectly made’, but her mince ‘let you down in having too many spices’.

Manisha Naidu chose to make an Italian grilled chicken with a basil cream sauce and a Parma ham-wrapped tomato. Her plating was praised, representing ‘Italy on a plate’.  Guy Clark chose the United Kingdom, and decided to make ‘pub food’, using a beer batter for the fish, and poaching all the elements of the dish, saying it was ‘worth the risk’. Chef Pete said that he could taste the beer in the batter and that the fish was perfectly poached. However the peas were ‘too mushy’, and the mash ‘lumpy’. Lungile Nhlanhla represented China, and had made deep fried tempura vegetables and stirfry, served with crispy duck.  Chef Andrew Atkinson said that the flavour was ‘absolutely fantastic’. Jade de Waal made mini bite size hamburgers, with fries and a home-made tomato sauce, adding a guacamole topping after one of the chef judges asked her about it. Chef Pete was very critical of the hamburger bun, saying it was ‘too dense and chewy’, but praised her ketchup, saying it was ‘superb’ and ‘the hero’ of the dish, but that the hamburger was not. Khaya Silingile wanted to show the versatility of flavour and technique, making a French inspired chicken ballotine with turned vegetables, ‘with loads of butter’ in her mash, making Chef Pete smile.  When he tasted the dish, Chef Pete said that it was ‘perfect mash’, and Chef Benny said it was a ‘lovely dish’.  She was praised for its ‘taste of Paris’.  Khaya was so excited that she said that she felt ‘tres magnifique’.  Deena Naidoo had prepared Asian baked fish with tempura prawns; Sue-Ann Allen a Spanish deconstructed paella with an avocado, corn and red onion salsa; and Ilse Fourie made a Mexican chicken and chilly pocket with guacamole, salsa,  and a spicy red pepper sauce.

The eleven Finalists were praised by Chef Benny, saying that the judges were blown away by their international dishes, and that they should be proud of what they had presented. They announced Khaya as the winner of this challenge, to which she responded in saying that she had reached ‘culinary heaven’, with Thys in second place, happy about the ‘pat on the back’ which he had received.  Their ‘prize’ was a Masterclass just for the two of them, by Chef Andrew with assistance from Chef Benny. Chef Andrew taught them to make Tagliatelle pasta, and a Putanesca sauce containing garlic, peppers, tomatoes, and peppers.

Samantha, Sarel, Guy, and Jade were sent into the Pressure Test, for their errors in making the international dishes. One of the Finalists would be sent home as a result of it, they were told. It was to be the ‘toughest and most complicated dish to be prepared so far’. They had to recreate Chef Andrew’s dish, being a Twice Baked Three Cheese Soufflé with a Waldorf salad, Onion Braise, and a Gruyère tuile, in 80 minutes.  They were told that a soufflé is difficult to make well, Chef Andrew saying that the ingredients, grammage, and oven temperature are crucial to its success.  One has to be gentle with a soufflé, in folding in the egg white. Guy started with the beetroot, then made the soufflé, the onions, and finished off in making the tuille.  He seemed to panic, and his colleagues watching from upstairs encouraged him to start from scratch. Chef Andrew said that Guy was ‘too heavy handed’ in making his soufflé, saying that it needs air when one folds in the egg white.  Chef Pete said that Guy had left out the apple and celery from the salad, and that the bacon had not been cooked properly.  Chef Benny added that Guy had not followed the recipe properly. Guy commented that one needs science to be a MasterChef, and that he had last had science at school!  Jade said that she could not faff around, saying that she would start with the onions, then moving onto the soufflé, ‘giving it my all’.  She got her ramekins in the oven too late, running out of the 20 minutes baking time required.  She admitted that she was ‘not up to scratch’, had ‘gone through the wall’, and just had too little time. She served her soufflé in the ramekins, to the surprise of the judges, saying that she ran out of time. When he removed it from the ramekin and cut it, Chef Andrew said that it had ‘not cooked through’. Chef Pete was very direct when he told Jade that she is still young, and that she still ‘has a lot more to learn’. Samantha said that a soufflé requires ‘precision work’, starting with her onions, putting her beetroot in the oven,  and then making the soufflé, which if one is not gentle with it could become a ‘flat-fle’!  She did not make the Gruyère tuile, having run out of time.  Her soufflé was praised for its presentation, looking very similar to that of Chef Andrew, but Chef Pete said that it was not ‘souffle  light’, and tasted more ‘cakey’.  Chef Andrew praised her Waldorf salad, saying that he thoroughly enjoyed it’.

Sarel immediately commented that he would have a time problem, in the recipe being three pages long.  He said this challenge was a ‘tough one’, and he didn’t make a cheese sauce, as he ran out of time.  Chef Benny said that the salad was very crispy, but that the walnuts had been ground, and not sliced as in the dish they had to replicate. Chef Andrew said that Sarel must have made many soufflés before, saying that his seasoning was right, and that he was happy with Sarel’s interpretation. The judges had observed the four Finalists at work, and commented that they were not starting with the soufflé, which worried them. All four of them ran out of time, and had to leave out an element of the dish. The four Finalists were praised for tackling the challenge head on. Guy was selected by the judges to leave MasterChef SA, and he was praised for his spirit and effort, and that he had showed glimpses of not giving up. Guy replied that MasterChef SA had given him a ‘doorway’ to his dreams. The remaining Top 10 MasterChef SA finalists were congratulated for having made it so far, and were told to ‘keep believing in yourself’.  Finalist Deena Naidoo said that they had been simmering up to now, but that they had now reached the ‘reduction stage’. Deena is the only MasterChef SA finalist to not have been in a ‘pressure test’.

For a second week running, the judges choice for elimination was questioned on Twitter, Jade’s soufflé flop having deserved elimination, it was felt.  It annoyed many Tweeters, and many threatened to no longer watch the show, given its loss of credibility.

POSTSCRIPT 19/5: Guy Clark’s ‘doorway’ to his dream to become a chef has come true.  He has been appointed as a Chef at the Madame Zingara group of restaurants, starting on Monday.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

Please follow and like us:
error20
fb-share-icon3070
Tweet 27k
fb-share-icon20

MasterChef episode 9: Who will be booted out? Win with Burrata

MasterChef SA is the talk of the country, and we have ten more gripping episodes to look forward to in the next two months. To spice things up a little, we have launched two competitions, the first being a prediction of who will win MasterChef SA in episode 18.

We are also running a weekly lucky draw for the correct prediction of who our readers think will be booted out of the MasterChef SA every week.  For the correct prediction of who will leave MasterChef SA in episode 9 today (15 May), Burrata has generously offered a restaurant voucher to the value of R400 to the winner.

The opening of Burrata at the Old Biscuit Mill (in the previous B-Lounge) in March had been eagerly awaited, with its owner Neil Grant coming from 2011 Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Rust en Vrede (he was the sommelier when he ran the restaurant with chef David Higgs).  Burrata is not a pizzeria, and it’s not an Italian restaurant. It is a unique, friendly, and welcoming restaurant which, with its neighbours The Pot Luck Club and The Test Kitchen,  makes the Old Biscuit Mill and Woodstock an exciting restaurant destination.  The red pizza oven imported from Naples catches one’s eye immediately, unlike any seen locally, with a more modern design.  The pizzaiolo pizza makers use peels imported from Italy to stretch the pizza, to create the correct shape and to place it in the oven, and to turn the pizza around once it is in the oven, to ensure that the pizza is equally cooked.  Burrata backer Barry Engelbrecht is a pizza aficionado, and has attended pizza-making courses around the world, and he trained the staff in pizza-making.

The red pizza oven creates the decor foundation, and the use of red and black extends into the staff uniforms, Maxwell Williams salt and pepper grinders, material serviettes into which the Forum cutlery is rolled, the sugar bowls, and on the menu and winelist covers.  Beautiful Italian Luigi Bormioli glasses made in Parma enhance the special wines served. A special state-of-the-art red hand meat slicer has a place of honour inside the restaurant. The kitchen is open plan, behind glass, and visible to diners. Charming front-of-house hostess is Swiss Isabella Immenkamp, who was a sommelier at Grande Roche previously.  She is very attentive, and European in her service delivery. Chef Annemarie Steenkamp comes from Le Quartier Français, where she spent five years.  The menu has a collection of delectable pizzas, as well as Chef Annemarie’s creations, including pork belly, roasted rib eye, a selection of pasta dishes, and risotto with caramelised onion.  The service and personal attention is exceptional, the best experienced in a very long time. The wine list is comprehensive, reflecting Neil’s passion. Burrata is friendly and welcoming, with reasonable prices. As Chairman of the South African Sommeliers’ Association, Neil has prepared a 50 hour wine appreciation program for the MasterChef South Africa winner on behalf of Nederburg, for its parent company Distell.

Tweet your prediction of which of the 11 remaining finalists will be booted out of MasterChef SA to @WhaleCottage, or e-mail it to whalecot@iafrica.com. Closing time for entries is Tuesday 15 May at 19h30, at the start of episode 9.  The winner will be contacted immediately after the show ends. There will be a weekly Restaurant Voucher prize draw per episode for the correct prediction of who will be booted out of MasterChef SA, and voting for the following episode can start as soon as that day’s episode has been aired. Should there be no correct entry received, the prize is rolled over to go to another week.

POSTSCRIPT 15/5: A surprise elimination in the Three Times Cheese Soufflé was Guy Clark.  Once again, it appears that the wrong selection was made, Tweeters feeling that Jade de Waal should have been eliminated, given that her soufflé was not cooked properly.  There was no correct prediction today, many incorrect guesses having been received.

Burrata, Old Biscuit Mill, Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town.  Tel (021) 447-6505.  www.burrata.co.za Twitter: @BurrataSA   Tuesday – Saturday, Lunch and Dinner.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.comTwitter:@WhaleCottage

Please follow and like us:
error20
fb-share-icon3070
Tweet 27k
fb-share-icon20