Entries tagged with “Massimo Bottura”.


After a year of not having an African restaurant on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list, The Test Kitchen In Cape Town has done our continent proud in scraping in at number 50 at the gala awards ceremony held in Bilboa in Spain this evening. The restaurant was praised for its emphasis on waterless cooking, giving the water scarcity in Cape Town. Last year the restaurant fell to 63rd position, when its arrogance in charging astronomically for lunch service, and for the presence of Chef Luke Dale-Roberts, led to its downfall. 

La Colombe made it onto the 51 -100 List, at number 73 last year, but has fallen right off the list this year, a karmic reaction to its involvement in restaurant politics, which was already evident in its slide at the Eat Out Awards in November last year.  (more…)

imageI am not much of a television viewer, but whilst visiting my son in the UK he introduced me to the Netflix series ‘Chef’s Table’, a series of episodes each focusing on a world-renowned chef and his/her restaurant from across the globe. (more…)

Worlds 50 Best 2016It has been an exciting early morning, with the World’s 50 Best Restaurants announced from Cipriani Wall Street in New York from 2h00 this morning. The Test Kitchen has done our country and Cape Town in particular proud, by becoming the 22nd Best Restaurant in the World! Osteria Francescana in Modena in Italy, owned by Chef Massimo Bottura, is the World’s Best Restaurant. (more…)

hufflA unique culinary event, or rather 37 of them, took place almost simultaneously around the world last Thursday, whereby 37 of the world’s best chefs swapped their kitchens with those of another chef. The Grand Gelinaz! Shuffle dinners were sold out, reports Fine Dining Lovers. Unfortunately Africa was excluded from the global culinary event.

On its website Gelinaz! is described as a collective of international chefs, which pushes boundaries, performing food, and takes risks. They are hungry to discover new cultures, and to exchange knowledge. Rather than repeat themselves and their dishes, they explore the unknown. They zoom into ‘the beauty of nature, its elegant chaos and unending recreation‘. It is the fifth such event to have been held in the past two years. Each chef had to arrive in the swap city three days prior to the dinner, and was not allowed to bring ingredients from his/her home country. An 8-course menu was to be prepared, with the assistance of the staff of the restaurant,

Guests booked for the Shuffle dinners at identified restaurants, but the identity of the chef cooking for them on the

(more…)

imageLast week the whole of Cape Town, if not South Africa, was rooting for Chef Angelo Scirocco of The Chef’s Warehouse in the S. Pellegrino Young Chef 2015, representing Africa and the Middle East, but it was not meant to be.  Chef Mark Moriarity from Dublin won the title in the inaugural competition, which received 3000 entries from (more…)

Grand Provence Darren Badenhorst's - San Pellegrino rabbit dish LRNot only talented Young Chefs from South Africa, but also some of our top celebrity chefs will be involved in judging the best S. Pellegrino Young Chef in the Middle East and Africa, taking place in Milan from 25 – 27 June.  Cape Town and the Winelands have four of ten Young Chef nominations for the judging region, and one celebrity Chef international judge.  A total of 3000 Young Chefs entered the Young Chef competition globally.

The four Cape Town and Winelands Young Chef nominees, having to be under the age of 30 years to qualify, are the following: (more…)

World's 50 Best Restaurants logoThe eagerly awaited 12th The World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards was held last night at The Guildhall in London, and the Top 50 Restaurants were announced. Restaurants ranked 51st – 100th were listed on the Awards website, which crashed just after the Awards ceremony!

The initiative of Restaurant magazine in the UK, and using 900 judges from around the world, a total of 6552 votes were cast to vote for the world’s best restaurants.  The world was divided into 26 regions, chaired by an expert for that region.  Tamsin Snyman heads the Africa panel of 36 members, who had to eat at 4 local as well as at 3 international restaurants to cast their vote.  No score is required – the vote is purely for the best restaurants they ate at, and must be presented in ranked order.  Every year 10 panelists step down per region, to be replaced by new ones.   For the first time in seven years Snyman did not attend, for family reasons.

The biggest surprise was that Noma in Copenhagen went back to its number one (more…)

The inaugural Eat Out Conference, held at the The Westin hotel on the eve of the Eat Out DStv Food Network Top 10 Awards with a disappointing attendance of fewer than 100 delegates, was an interesting journey of food through its South African history beginning in 1652, culminating in the climax of the inspirational talk by Chef Massimo Bottura of fifth ranked Osteria Francescana on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

Chef Luke Dale-Roberts of The Test Kitchen, most likely to be crowned our country’s best Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant and Chef this evening, was meant to speak about ‘Food for thought, thought for food’, admitting that he is more comfortable cooking than he is at admin and public speaking.  He was inspired by the recent gathering of 200 international chefs organised by Alain Ducasse, at which it was emphasised: “I am a chef, it’s what I am, it’s what I make”. He said a chef would die if he/she were to stop evolving.  Every day inspires him, he said, as well as the seasons, and their change.  Chef Luke showed a number of videos, made by Dreamcatcher Productions, of the making of his ‘thematic food’, being as funky, beautiful, and vibey as his dishes, including ‘Sea’ (oysters on salt), ‘The Farm’, ‘The Forest’, ‘The Test Kitchen Egg‘ with foie gras in its middle, the more recent ‘Walk through citrus groves’ (which included a three citrus sorbet, and Campari and orange jelly), and ‘Red Cabbage Coral’, served in different styles, being raw, powdered, cooked, and as a jelly.  While Chef Luke did not address the theme of his talk, being more self-promotion focused, he earned the respect of the audience through the quality of his videos, and the beautiful dishes that he presented.

The presentation by UK food designer Andrew Stellitano and photographer Dominic Davies of sonnets on strands of pasta, laser cut biscuits, and more, went over the heads of most of the audience, especially the part entitled ‘Sensory experiences of the Cape’, via James Wannerton, who suffers from synaethesia, a condition in which two of the five senses are dissonant.  Fun was his taste association, via Google Maps, of Table Mountain with pear drops, the Epping Market with chocolate digestives, and Paarl with ‘Gobstoppers’, all of which we were given to taste.

Margot Janse, Chef of The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français for the past 17 years, has a record number of ten Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant awards, more than any of the other 18 chefs she is competing against tonight.  Africa is Chef Margot’s inspiration. She has lived in Africa for 23 years, coming to South Africa from Lusaka, and down to the Cape at the time at which Mr Mandela had just been released.  This opened up a whole new world for culinary South Africa, the rest of world starting to fall in love with our country again, she said.  More was better in the ‘Nineties, quantity was synonymous with quality then!  She remembered braais, chutney, mampoer, witblits, South African generosity, her favourite gem squash, cheddar and gouda cheeses, milk in plastic sachets, and learnt that meat does not have to come in styrofoam trays. Her love for food became an obsession and then her career.  She travels a lot, cooking in many countries. Her creations all have a South African stamp, and could include baobab, buchu, and chakalaka, these ingredients making us special.  She is proud of where her supplies come from, having walked where the cattle graze, and sees where the vegetables grow.  She shared how Farmer Angus makes a plan, and walked the extra mile for her, getting the cheeks cut out of lamb skulls. Integrity and honesty are the lessons she has learnt from Africa.  She cooks what is grown here, and now.  She learnt to fight for good service, for her staff, was known to be difficult, and is no longer banned from suppliers for standing her man.

She discussed the contradiction of focusing on the perfect carrot, when there are so many people in our country going hungry. Guests want to contribute, and give something back. With a fundraiser in Holland she raised R1 million, and can feed 750 children in Franschhoek, proudly showing this scheme to her guests. She has learnt ‘Ons maak ‘n plan’, that everything is possible in Africa.  She uses local ingredients like sorghum, kapokbos, num-nums, sour figs, and a salt from a sacred place which is 200 years old, in the Mopani district.  The Tasting Room only serves local wines, mainly from Franschhoek. She was asked how she has stayed at the restaurant for so long, and explained that she stays enthused through sourcing, and constantly evolving her restaurant. This winter they changed the interior of the restaurant, done by her brother, who was inspired by her food, removing all unnecessary and ‘intimidating factors’, such as table cloths, candles, and bread.  The tables have been made from wood from the trees which were removed when the Berg River dam was built. She concluded with a plea: “Let’s celebrate this incredible land”! One reaction to her moving talk was from the audience: “I came about food and I was inspired to be a South African”.

Hetta Van Deventer-Terblanche, Culinary Consultant at La Motte, used research about Cape food in compiling a cookbook ‘Cape Winelands Cuisine’. Her talk was entitled ‘South African Storytelling on a plate‘.  She related that she had grown up in a traditional town, with the belief that South Africa does not have a distinctive cuisine, with only a small repertoire, and that South Africans love meat (Braai, biltong, boerewors, potjiekos), and that vegetables are less important (‘Rys, vleis en aartappels‘). After 1994 the world opened up to South Africa. Guests asked where they could eat South African food, and they wanted South African cuisine defined. She said that she started researching South African food long before it became trendy.  She described the recipes of the first settlers from different countries as ‘culinary treasures’. Founder Jan van Riebeek loved gardening, being ‘passionate and obsessed‘ about it, and experimented with the new plants he brought here, laying the foundation of South African herbs and spices. His fruits at the Company Gardens were described as being larger than everywhere else in world. There was an abundance of fruit, vegetables and nuts, which were not just harvested for ‘mooigoed’!   French Huguenots added the heritage of offal and macaroons, for example.  Rice was planted in the Cape, Lady Anne Barnard preferring it to imported rice.  Roses were used for rose water seasoning, as were dried mushrooms, and crushed crayfish tail shells. Our forbears used natural flavourants naturally 300 years ago – ‘how new is our old, how old is our new‘, she asked.  She said that we have lost such a lot, and that we need to find our past again.  Dr Hettie Claasens did a lot of original research, being her inspiration, documented in her book ‘Die Geskiedenis van Boerekos’. Recipes are handed from mothers to daughters, and therefore are secret, and many are lost, as mothers are not teaching their daughters any more.  Pierneef à La Motte Chef Chris Erasmus was praised, making magic on a plate.  ‘Find your own food stories’, she concluded.

Catering by The Westin hotel was excellent, from the morning tea treats, to the lunch buffet, especially its ‘dessert’ Sweet Treat buffet of Smarties, jelly tots, macaroons, and chocolates, and cappuccino requests were actioned with speed and friendliness.

Chef Massimo Bottura of 3 Michelin star Osteria Francescana described Modena and surrounds as the ‘motor and food valley’, including Lamborghini and Bughatti, as well as Parmigiano-Reggiano, proscuitto, and balsamic vinegar. Chef Massimo entitled his talk ‘Come to Italy with Me’, also the name of one of his menu options, sharing how excited he was about his first visit to Africa. At his restaurant he asks guests to leave behind their preconceptions of Italian food, and to rediscover Italian flavours with him.  He shared Chef Luke’s philosophy of being a chef, saying: “Do what I want to do, with passion. Look deep in your heart. Get the best from the past and bring it into the future”.  All chefs must have an identity, he said, knowing who they are and where they come from.  He said he could not achieve what he has without the support of a great team.  Chef Massimo’s dish of five different styles of Parmigiano-Reggiano was named Italy’s Dish of the Decade 2001 – 2011.  He described how he and his team ‘break down old forms, into a puzzle, and recreate them into new forms, using new technology and techniques‘.  Chef Massimo brought his love for art into his talk, and explained how he recreated traditional recipes ‘through Picasso’s eyes’, creating ‘Cubist paintings’. Asked how the recession affects his business, he explained that it has hit Italy badly, but that they have faith in their new Prime Minister. His business, with only 25 seats, has not felt its effect, but one must work hard, keep one’s feet on the ground, be humble, and fight to beat the crisis! Chef Massimo described how they tried to perfect the Umami of a broth, adding pigeon, veal, beef, capers, chicken, eel, but it was the Parmigiano-Reggiano that gave the soup the perfect Umami!  He advised that one must step back 10 meters, to see better into the future. One must combine history, art, food, and the social aspects to be successful.  He mentioned his Tagliatelle Ragu as one of his trademark dishes, one which made the locals in his area attract them to his restaurant.  He concluded, emphasising again that one must never forget where one comes from.

I had asked the question about the recession, and was delighted that Chef Massimo’s American wife Lara Gilmore came over to say hello, filling in some information gaps.  Lara said that she met Chef Massimo in New York 19 years ago, and moved to Modena with him a year later.  She explained the slide of the lemon and the light bulb, saying it represented that even the simplest ingredient can become special, depending on how you use it.  She told me the lovely story of how Chef Massimo had been asked to design a menu for Christmas and New Year for a cruise liner.  An earthquake in May caused tremendous damage and hardship for the people of Emilia Romagna, so Chef Massimo designed the menu utilising large numbers of ingredients from this region, to build up its economy again. She shared that the restaurant has three menus, one with 6-courses of  Traditional dishes at €100, the Classics menu with his best dishes over the years at €140 for 8 courses, and the 12-course Sensations ‘Come to Italy with Me’ menu at €180.  The dessert list has two sections, she explained, five being ‘savoury sweet’, and another five ‘sweet sweet’.  The quirky names of the dishes impress, for example ‘Oops, I dropped the lemon tart’!  While they worked hard to achieve three Michelin stars, it is even harder to maintain them, Lara shared, but it has allowed them to be more daring and avant garde. They have recently finished redoing the restaurant and the kitchen.

The Conference ended off with a panel discussion led by Eat Out editor Abigail Donnelly, and was disappointing, with a mismatched panel of Chef Reuben Riffel, Chef Giorgio Nava, The Local Grill owner Steven Maresch, and Food Network owner representative Nick Thorogood.  Grass-fed beef (‘Field to fork’) was highlighted as being healthier, and more sustainable, although it was clear that the steakhouse was ordering grain-fed meat. Even Chef Reuben said he had to order both kinds, as his customers did not relate to the grass-fed steak.  Nick fed back that the trend in London is that the source of each ingredient is specified on the menu. South America will be the ‘next big name in cuisine’ , the influence on world cuisine coming from the forthcoming Olympics and World Cup soccer.  Chef Reuben tried hard to argue that he is in touch with his restaurants, despite being  a ‘celebrity chef’ now, but a question from the audience sounded as if it was addressed to him directly, making a passionate plea for absent chefs to be at their restaurants!  TV cooking shows are popular, for entertainment and the inspiration.  No-shows are a problem, but most restaurants do not ask for credit card details, with the exception of The Tasting Room. Bank chargebacks could mean that the guests dispute the payments and receive the money back anyway. Chef Jenny Morris suggested that the restaurant industry stand together and formulate a policy on booking deposits.  The role of food critics was discussed just as it was time to close the discussion.  While bloggers were criticised for not being knowledgeable and wielding considerable power, the unanimous view was that blogposts about restaurants must be honest and constructive, to ensure the integrity of one’s blog.

Despite the excellent content of the Eat Out Conference, bar one session, it was poorly attended.  As the Conference is likely to become an annual event, New Media Publishing may need to consider a Sunday or Monday for it, to attract a far larger attendance by chefs, only a handful being in attendance.  Important too would be to focus on who the Conference is aimed at – at Foodies, writing about Food and Restaurants, or at Chefs, or a combination of the two.  Very few chefs attended, and one suspects that had most of those who attended not been speakers, there would have been barely any in the audience, a full-day Saturday conference in November probably poorly suited to busy restaurant kitchens. Perhaps the cost of R1000 was a deterrent too. Such a Conference would be better suited to the quiet winter period.  Sadly, there was little interaction between the food writers and the few chefs, partly caused by the lack of name tags.

POSTSCRIPT 26/11: Last night I saw Massimo Bottura and his wife Lara at the Eat Out Awards dinner, and we chatted, especially about her most unusual choker made from a very special wine cork, encased in sterling silver at the ends.

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

New Eat Out judge, blogger Bruce Palling from the UK, has arrived in Cape Town to assist Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant and associated awards organiser Abigail Donnelly in selecting the top ten restaurants in the country and in ranking them.  He has barely set foot in the country, never having been here before, and he has attracted controversy already!

Palling is a rude Tweeter, and on Twitter yesterday afternoon he announced his arrival, having been to Clarke’s second hand bookshop on Long Street, and in having eaten springbok for lunch, commenting on its bland taste: Cape Town on a glorious sunny Spring day – and my first experience of Springbok – surprisingly mild…was expecting more depth of flavour...  A chef retaliated immediately: It’s not stag steaks stored in the deepfreezer for 3 years wrapped in wellington boots, boet”. Palling also Tweeted a comment which was criticised for its implied racism, by labelling a fellow guest on skin colour at the restaurant: Black guest excusing lateness@Cape Town restaurant: “Sorry but had to take taxi because my Ferrari cant make it over bumps at entrance here”. For that Tweet he was admonished too, including by Über-Tweeter Jane-Anne Hobbs.

Palling, who is being accommodated at the Taj hotel, will be visiting the Top 20 restaurant list, unless Ms Donnelly has already cut that list down to her Top 10, and he will assist her in ranking the list, and in choosing the winners in the categories introduced last year: Boschendal Style Award, Best Italian, Best Asian, Best Bistro, Best Steakhouse, and Best Country Style restaurant.  This is our prediction of where Palling can be expected to eat in potential 2012 Eat Out Top 10 restaurants in the next few days in the Western Cape (we have excluded Grande Provence, The Roundhouse, and Nobu due to chef changes, and other deserving restaurants at which the chefs have been at the restaurants for less than a year):

*   The Test Kitchen

*   The Greenhouse

*   Planet Restaurant

*   Makaron Restaurant

*   Tokara

*   Delaire Graff

*   Pierneef à La Motte

*   Overture

*   Terroir

*   Babylonstoren

*   Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine

*   Waterkloof

*   La Colombe

*   Rust en Vrede

*   The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français

From Palling’s blogposts, of which variations are published in the Europe edition of the Wall Street Journal occasionally, one has learnt the following about his eating and drinking tastes:

1.   Local is lekker:  he wants to eat ‘native produce’ rather than it being imported  (e.g. ‘wallaby’ in Australia!)

2.   He is fond of wine, and it should be local and single varietal, and not blended

3.  His benchmark is Michelin-ism

4.  He is quick to describe food as ‘bland’

5.   He has a ‘boredom with egg-dominated dishes’

6.   He loves ‘Nordic’ (especially Swedish) cuisine

7.   He scoffs at molecular gastronomy, which he calls ‘pretend food’, and likes to be able to identify produce on a plate ‘rather than look at an inanimate mixture of textures and smears’

8.  He ‘cherishes food which exudes strong, not to say, disgusting odours’.

It will be interesting to see if Palling’s assistance to Ms Donnelly will make any difference to the Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant Awards results. Palling has already shown that he is a difficult and opinionated writer and judge, and a rude Tweeter.

POSTSCRIPT 5/9: Eat Out has just announced that it is hosting a weekend of food celebration from 23 – 25 November, with international chefs in attendance too: This is from their website:

On Friday 23 November, there will be an exclusive dinner with Massimo Bottura, chef at Osteria Francescana, number 5 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the prestigious annual awards sponsored by S. Pellegrino and Aqua Panna.

On Saturday 24 November, for the first time ever, we’ll be hosting an Eat Out Conference at The Westin Cape Town on Cape Town’s foreshore. Speakers at the inspiring, interactive day include top international chef Massimo Bottura; Bruce Palling (Wall Street Journal critic, World’s 50 Best Restaurants judge, blogger and Eat Out 2012 judge); and British food designer Andrew Stellitano (check out his incredible food landscapes, sculptural pancakes and edible Louis Vuitton handbagshere). Local speakers include reigning Chef of the Year, Luke Dale-Roberts, and prominent members of the local food and restaurant community, who’ll join a panel discussion led by Eat Out editor and judge, Abigail Donnelly.

On Sunday, the winners of the 2012 Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony in the Grand Ballroom at The Westin Cape Town. A four-course meal will be prepared by top chefs, and the new Top 10 will be announced, along with the winners of the awards for best steakhouse, bistro, Asian, country-style and Italian restaurant, along with the Boschendal Style Award“.

POSTSCRIPT 9/9: Bruce Palling has been eating his way around the Cape, and the only clues that he is leaving is that he has eaten Springbok on more than one occasion, and he is Tweeting photographs of the wines he has drunk with his meals, which must be very frustrating for him, as he is a keen food photographer, but that would give the judging away!  His wine choice over the past five days has included Zorgvliet Cabernet Sauvignon (vintage not mentioned), Raats Cabernet Franc 2008, Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir 2010, Raats Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Paul Cluver 7 Flags Pinot Noir 2008, and Luddite Shiraz 2006. He is seeking wines with less than 14% alcohol content, to suit his wife’s requirement, and has been asking for advice on Twitter, a sad reflection on the restaurants at which he has eaten not being able to advise him!  He has taken back his criticism of springbok in his Tweet on his arrival (see above), and Tweeted on Friday: “Take back Springbok being boring/bland – had 2 non sous vide versions which lean + voluptuous helped along by Raats Cabernet Franc 08”. No local chefs, with the exception of Oliver Cattermole, who is not in the running for the Eat Out Top 10 Awards as he has not been at Dish at Le Franschhoek for a full year, have interacted with Palling on Twitter.  Chefs Peter Tempelhoff (Greenhouse), Jackie Cameron (Hartford House), Gregory Czarnecki (Waterkloof), Margot Janse (The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français), Scot Kirton (La Colombe), Tanja Kruger (Makaron), Eric Bulpitt (The Roundhouse), Marthinus Ferreira (DW Eleven – 13), and Tokara Restaurant are all following Palling on Twitter, perhaps hoping for a clue or two.  Further disparaging Tweets in reaction to our Palling blogposts have been posted by Palling, one of which was (unprofessionally) ReTweeted by Le Quartier Français’ The Tasting Room owner Susan Huxter).

POSTSCRIPT 12/9: Le Quartier Français’ The Tasting Room and McGrath Hotels’ The Greenhouse must be concerned about Bruce Palling’s attack on ‘Relais Chateau‘ (sic) on Twitter today, both hotel groups belonging to Relais & Châteaux.

POSTSCRIPT 13/9: One hopes that Bruce Palling’s restaurant judging is better than his a-palling spelling and photography. This was his Tweet from Biesmiellah last night: “Taking a break at Biedmiellah (sic) – Babotie (sic) and Denning Vleis (sic)”. Poor quality writing, especially from a ‘journalist’!

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