On Friday I tried the new Winter Menu at Terroir, it being anything but wintry weather-wise. The lunch was set up at short notice by Eske of Manley Communications, who had extended the invitation on behalf of the restaurant, as my planned trip to Greyton was confirmed that morning. Continue reading →
Boschendal has been below the radar for the past year, the only news having been that the estate was closed while it transformed itself into a wedding function venue. It appears that the wine estate is not only catering for weddings, but has a number of exciting restaurant developments up its sleeve too, some completed and some more to come. Having new Chef Christiaan Campbell on board, formerly of Delaire Graff, the estate is transforming itself into Boschendal Farm, with a focus on ethical and sustainable sourcing of ingredients and preparation of food.
I visited Boschendal Farm yesterday, and was astounded at the energy, and part transformation which has already taken place. Gone are the ‘cobwebs’ and the old fuddy-duddy feel which one experienced in the Buffet restaurant and the Café. It started with me parking my car and Events and Functions Manager Aldo du Plessis (previously with La Motte and Grande Provence) driving past, stopping immediately, and inviting me on a guided tour, an offer which I could not refuse!
We drove to the new wedding and conference venue The Olive Press, which is in a section of the more than 2000 ha farm which one has not seen Continue reading →
At the conclusion of Season 3 of MasterChef SA, M-Net filmed a four-part series ‘Feast’, focused on Christmas. Each MasterChef SA judge has his own program, and visiting chef Marco Pierre White had one too, which was screened on Thursday evening.
The MasterChef SA judge episodes of ‘Feast’, taking the first one which focused on Chef Pete Goffe-Wood a week ago, gave an overview of the chef, his favourite outlets from which to source supplies, and a Christmas feast prepared for friends and family. The episode for last night was filmed in July, but the studio at which the episode was filmed was decorated for Christmas. Coincidentally it rained on the day of filming as it did in Cape Town on Christmas Day!
As Chef Marco did not have any friends or family in Cape Town, he was ‘loaned’ some, being MasterChef SA finalists: Deena Continue reading →
A quick Easter Hot Cross Bun and coffee at Pierneef à La Motte was a double treat when Chef Chris Erasmus came to say hello and joined me at the table to share the news about his new Folliage restaurant, which he plans to open in the heart of the Franschhoek village just before the Bastille weekend in mid-July.
Chef Chris was beaming, clearly excited about his new project, even though he says that he is a little nervous about running his own business for the first time. Chef Chris worked at Le Quartier Français, at Pied à Terre in London, and at Ginja in Cape Town before he joined Pierneef à La Motte almost four years ago, and took the restaurant to Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant last year. He leaves La Motte on 15 June. He is opening his restaurant on the corner of Berg Street and main road, just two blocks from our Whale Cottage Franschhoek, in walking distance for our guests, who prefer to walk to the village for dinner than to drive to any of the good restaurants on the wine estates just outside the village. The restaurant will seat up to 70 for lunch, including outside, and 40 inside at night. The building belongs to the owners of La Petite Dauphine, and one of its owners, Gert Gertzen, is a highly regarded interior designer, and he is working with Chef Chris in planning the decor, which will have a wood ceiling, and wood furniture, on a concrete floor.
Right next door is the IS art gallery, which moved into the same building a week ago, a Continue reading →
Cape Town is a city of surprises, and a walk yesterday along Loop Street led me past Café Puerto Cabo, its bright blue awning and patrons sitting at a pavement table attracting attention. I went to have a look, and discovered a small chic Café that thrives on design not only of its interior but also by offering a men’s clothing couture range branded Issa Leo, and also serves quality coffee by Deluxe Coffeeworks in thirteen styles.
The Manager Zacharias Lopez recognised me as a regular customer of Haas, as he had worked there for about three months as their barista. His brother Issa is the owner of the business, having come to Cape Town from Spain in 2009, and having slowly built up his Issa Leo clothing brand, made in Cape Town, over time. He started at the Biscuit Mill, selling the clothing as well as leather bags there. A business partner has enabled him to open his clothing and leather bag store within Café Puerto Cabo, the name meaning Port of the Cape.
Using the services of interior designer Zaayan Rasdien, they focused on the colours of the Spanish flag, the wooden table tops being set in yellow or red metal frames. The tables were especially designed for the Café, Issa finding little to please him in Cape Town. Continue reading →
When Michael Olivier first launched Crush! food and wine digital magazine three years ago, it was evident that he and his team had no experience in the design and publishing of a magazine generally, and a digital magazine specifically. We wrote critically about the first few issues, but no feedback was accepted nor reacted to, and Olivier appeared to have lost advertising revenue as a result, thus leaving the magazine about a year ago. His departure appears to have rejuvenated the magazine, and it has improved vastly!
The response by Olivier and his Crush! writers David Cope (@Foodie_za) and Andy Fenner (@JamieWhoSA in those days) to our feedback about the magazine at that time was to create the Whalespotter Twitter defamation account led by Cope, and condoned by Continue reading →
Last night’s episode 9 was interesting, in that it was shot away from the MasterChef SA kitchen, and that ten ‘Food Bloggers’ were invited to judge the pizzas made by two teams of Finalists, the first team challenge of Season 2. The South Easter created havoc for the Finalists as well as for the bloggers. The ‘Blogger’ participation was a huge let down, and serving the guests pizza to judge was an insult.
The episode began with the Finalists descending on the kitchen of their house, to be confronted with a box of aprons and the instruction to divide themselves into two groups of seven. The names were written on pieces of paper, and a Le Creuset pot served as the vessel from which the names for the two teams were drawn. They were then driven to Maiden’s Cove, between Camps Bay and Clifton, a parking space with a beautiful view of Camps Bay and the Twelve Apostles, Chef Pete Goffe-Wood saying that Camps Bay ‘is one of the iconic locations in Cape Town‘. The challenge sounded simple – Limoncello and The Good Life Food Trucks arrived, and the two teams were randomly allocated a truck each as their home base to prepare 12 savoury and 12 dessert pizzas each within 90 minutes. Pizza ovens had been erected, one per team, and a small pantry was set up, the two team representatives having 3 minutes in which to grab their ingredients. Chef Andrew Atkinson reminded the Finalists that team work is the hallmark of a quality kitchen. They were also told (misleadingly) that the guests were ’10 of South Africa’s top food bloggers‘, and ‘are discerning customers‘! Chef Pete won the dessert pizza section of an international pizza competition in Australia last year, the Finalists were told. Continue reading →
Not only does Michael Olivier not declare on his blog that he is paid to write ‘reviews’ about the wines of his ‘Winery Partners’, but he also ‘writes’ blogposts about winery news that are copy-and-pasted word for word, including the headline, from media releases sent to him by the winery PR companies!
On Monday we received the following media release from De Kock Communications on behalf of their Nederburg client, announcing the wine company’s new Winemaster’s Classes, which Continue reading →
Ten days ago we wrote about the unethical reviews of wines by Michael Olivier, without acknowledging that most of his ‘Winery Partners’ have paid for the coverage on his blog, on his Twitter account, and in his FMR wine slot. We also wrote about the unethical restaurant reviews done on IntertwEAT/TweetCritique by Lionel Lelyveld, without disclosing that every three course meal for two persons he has written about is received free of charge.
Interesting is how differently the two writers have reacted to our blogpost:
Lelyveld has not responded to the blogpost at all, but we have noticed in the past week that he has started simultaneously Tweeting restaurant reviews from the UK and the Cape. We have also noticed that he has added a hint of criticism to some of his ‘review’ Tweets, which we have not seen before. What is funny, but probably not visible to most of our Followers, is that Lelyveld has been particularly generous with his Retweets of our Restaurant-related Tweets, Continue reading →
I am not a cooking program type at all, and have never watched any MasterChef programme. Last night I watched the first episode of MasterChef SA, and loved every minute of it. While there were some irritations, the tension that built up over the hour-long reality programme, the pithy comments from the judges, and the heartfelt emotions with tears and joy reminded me of a mix of ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’ and ‘Idols’.
Interesting at the outset was the PG13 warning about strong language for the programme, which was not evident in the first episode. From 4000 hopefuls starting off in Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg, fifty out of 120 aspirant amateur chefs received a MasterChef SA apron, to attend the MasterChef SA ‘boot camp’. The judges Pete Goffe-Wood, Bennie Masekwameng and Andrew Atkinson have a combined culinary history of more than 50 years, they said proudly, and individually have cooked for royalty, for Johannesburg’s rich and famous, and have judged and participated in local and international competitions. The difference between a good and a great chef is the burning desire to be the best, the participants were told. ‘Just being good is not going to cut it’, the judges added. Judges are searching for culinary perfection, and told the participants to go if that is not what they will deliver. Participants were told that the judges would be evaluating them on passion, skill, and the perfect flavour. It was nice to see the multi-cultural and multi-gender mix of participants, even if the judges were all male, one of the first criticisms of the judges’ selection! The judges appeared stiff initially, almost relying on the judgement of one of the others to be brave enough to say a dish was excellent or really bad, but they grew in confidence throughout the programme, being more bold to go against the majority view of the other judges. The show was said on Twitter yesterday to have been R500000 over budget in its production.
Time-keeping was tough, each participant having thirty minutes to prepare their dish off-screen, and five minutes to plate it in front of the judges. Initially the contestant names were seen on the screen, with the name of the dish, but towards the end of the first episode, fewer names were mentioned or depicted. One could guess that if a profile of the aspirant chef was screened before he or she faced the judges, that the contestant would receive the MasterChef SA apron to get into the ‘bootcamp’.
Successful top 50 amateur chefs included Khayakazi Silingile, who prepared scallops and smoked salmon with an unusual rhubarb tart and orange juice, a colourful presentation. The judges praised her ‘magical combination’ of ingredients and described her dish as ‘clever’. Jade was a bundle of charm, energy, and confidence, and her chocolate tartlet with fresh berries and somewhat heat-melted cardamon ice cream won the judges’ approval, in that they said that she knows what she is talking about, that her dish was ‘magnificent’, and not ‘jaded’! Callie-Anne was lucky to achieve two Yes votes for her fillet of beef with a mushroom and zucchini ragout, and started crying when she realised that the judges were not all ecstatic about her creation. Sanjeev appeared over-confident, even singing for the judges, and his ‘lamb party’ curry dish was voted for by two of the judges. Bongumusa received an apron, as did Sarel Loots. Ilse Fourie received a very strong vote of confidence from all the judges for her tagliatelle and salmon steak with a citrus dressing, for its taste as well as presentation, the judges showering her with accolades: ‘presentation is superb’, ‘tasted absolutely awesome’, ‘brilliant’, ‘you can cook with passion’, and ‘I was mesmerised by it’. Lwazi’s crusted kingklip and Lungile’s duck burger and apple and plum sauce met the judges’ approval. Chef Pete loved Deena Naidoo’s butter chicken so much that he took the plate back to his seat to finish off the dish, describing it as ‘moreish’ and ‘creamy’. An unnamed contestant made a sour cherry frangipane tartlet and served it with his home-made ice cream. The judges could not stop eating it! An unnamed contestant made ‘pap en vleis’, and was praised for her South African dish of a lamb chop. Luxolo received a sympathy vote from Chef Bennie, rewarding the scullery worker with a Yes vote for the passion in preparing his ‘Fish House’ dish of fish, mussels, and prawns. He went down on his knees in tears when he received the vote to join the ‘bootcamp’. The judges appeared to drift away from their stated judging criteria in their evaluation of the dishes, not really providing any depth feedback about the dishes in culinary terms. Some of the recipes of the ‘bootcamp’ finalists are on the MasterChef SA website.
Wayde The Fudge Man from Johannesburg was less lucky, his pasta not having been cooked well enough, and was described by the judges as a ‘lump of goo’. A soup was described as a ‘bowl of emptiness’ by Chef Pete. The editors of the first episode were kind in showing very few of the dishes that did not make the grade, with the associated negative judges’ comments. Interesting is that a contestant posted a complaint on ‘Hello Peter’ about the auditions at Montecasino on 3 December, for his dish being evaluated by one judge only, and no feedback having been given to him at all for it not making the grade. Chef Pete said about himself with a laugh: “It turns out that I’m less empathetic than I thought I was”.
Ads for sponsors Woolworths, Robertsons, Nederburg, Southern Sun, and Hyundai ran throughout the program, the advertising breaks being used to build up the tension about whether a contestant would stay or go. Lacking credibility in its running in the programme was Chef Reuben Riffel’s endorsement of Robertsons Paste, many viewers feeling that he would or should not be using Robertson’s herbs and spices in his restaurants! Interesting is the pay-off line which Robertson’s was using in its ads during the programme, of ‘Masterclass’, nonsensical in that no contestant was seen to add any Robertson’s products during the show. The word means teaching a group of students, and is mainly used in a music context, and this is not what the programme is about, and therefore does not match the definition of the word. Interesting is that Robertson’s has appointed erstwhile chef Sonia Cabano as its ‘Social Media Manager’, she announced on Twitter a few days ago, and seems technically ill-equipped to deal with the demands of the position, asking for advice on running multi-accounts on Twitter, for example, and who has a reputation for causing trouble with other Tweeters. She is outspoken about herself (writing about her ‘drunk tweeting’ last week, for example) and others. One sensed the restraint with which she Tweeted when some Robertson’s Tweets were criticised!
Having visited a Woolworths branch in Sea Point yesterday afternoon, one would have thought that the retail outlet would have prominently advertised its participation in the programme and encouraged viewership via posters or flyers, but there was nothing at all to alert one to the programme or to Woolworths’ sponsorship of it. The company commissioned Platypus Productions to direct twenty TV commercials to highlight its role as the food sponsor of the show. Nederburg ran a few ads in the programme, but the setting of its transformed 1000 square meter Johan Graue Auction Hall venue was not visible to viewers. The wine estate has launched new wines in conjunction with Woolworths, to coincide with MasterChef SA, and has also just announced that it is starting a series of online Winemaster’s Classes, which will be broadcast on www.nederburg.co.za, and viewers can win Le Creuset cookery sets. Interesting is that Spar advertising was allowed in the programme – Chef Pete Tweeted last week that his column in Pick ‘n Pay’s Good Living magazine has been cancelled after many years, due to Woolworths’ involvement in MasterChef SA. Loreal was a non-food advertiser.
On Twitter the judges were criticised for not looking professional enough, in not wearing chef’s outfits, and looking rather formal with a tie (Chef Andrew), and jacket (Chef Pete). The judges seemed inconsistent in their evaluation on occasion, either raving about a contestant, or destroying them in their cruel feedback at times. Kenneth Goldstone’s pan-fried kingklip and tarragon and mushroom sauce was highly praised by Chef Andrew, rejected by Chef Bennie, and even though Chef Pete did not seem enthusiastic about the dish, he gave it a Yes. Not only the contestants were under pressure, but the judges too. They started shooting on 4 January, and it was a tough 10 week schedule, 12 hours a day, six days a week, necessitating that they move to Paarl for the duration of the shoot, Chef Pete told Eat Out. Interesting is the fuss that the publication made of Chef Pete yesterday,with an in-depth interview in a special newsletter to co-incide with the start of the MasterChef SA series. Last year the publication fired Chef Pete as one of its Top 10 Restaurant judges. Chef Pete said that the judges were ‘blown away by the calibre of the contestants’, given that all were amateurs. He predicted that the top five contestants will enter the culinary industry. Chef Pete expressed his hope that MasterChef SA will be followed up by a second series.
POSTSCRIPT 21/3: A Kfm 94,5 presenter poorly read an ‘advertorial’ style ad about Chef and Judge Pete Goffe-Wood this afternoon on behalf of M-Net for MasterChef SA, with very out-of-date CV information – e.g. that he is the ‘author’ of the ‘newly launched book ‘Blues – Essence of Cape Town’ (the Blues staff say the book was launched about 5 – 7 years ago), that he is ‘currently involved in developing 95 Keerom Street for Rhodes House’ (the latter building was pulled down years ago, and the restaurant opened years ago), and that he owns Wildwoods (he closed down the Hout Bay restaurant almost a year ago)! On his Kitchen Cowboys website he advertises his next Kitchen Cowboys course as starting on 23 August 2011! The radio announcer called him ‘Pete Goffe’, all in all a very poor reflection on M-Net and MasterChef SA, and its judge Pete Goffe-Wood for his very out of date CV information!
POSTSCRIPT 21/3: One wonders why the M-Net publicity department is depicting the three MasterChef SA judges in silly photographs, as the one in this blogpost, as well as the ones in the Sunday Times last weekend, based on the Three Monkeys, using pumpkins to cover their ears, eyes, and mouth, and Chef Pete wearing a pumpkin as a hat! MasterChef SA is a very serious program for its contestants, and one would hope that the chef judges thought so too. The pohotographs do not do the judges nor the program justice!
POSTSCRIPT 23/3: Sarel Loots Tweeted today that he did make the top 50 ‘bootcamp’ – our apologies for misinterpreting the judges’ sentiments, and we have made the correction.
POSTSCRIPT 23/3: It was just a matter of time before we (unintentionally) irritated Robertsons’ Social Media Manager Sonia Cabano enough with our questions relating to Robertsons’ ‘Masterclass’ advertising positioning in its MasterChef SA TV commercials that she blocked our Twitter account today, unprofessional behaviour on behalf of a client. One wonders what she is signalling through this action, in wanting to hide something about her client! Being in defensive mode, she has Tweeted in particularly poor English today, using literal translations of Afrikaans words in the wrong context.
MasterChef SA, M-Net, Tuesdays, 19h30 – 20h30. www.masterchefsa.dstv.com Twitter: @MasterChefSA
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage