The fourth annual Col’Cacchio Celebrity Chef Series 2012 was celebrated on Tuesday at the first pizza outlet branch opened by Kinga Baranowska and Michael Terespolsky on Hans Strijdom Avenue in the Cape Town city centre 20 years ago, with special chefs in attendance, and special pizzas tasted. All attending the event were left with the feel-good evidence that the Col’Cacchio’s Celebrity Chef Series is making a difference in its contribution to funding new developments at and upgrades of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town.
The media event was an opportunity to introduce Pierneef à La Motte Chef Chris Erasmus and his July Col’Cacchio Celebrity Chef Series pizza, being the ‘Liplekker Ribbetjie’, which he demonstrated the making of at the event. Asking him about the first Afrikaans-named Col’Cacchio pizza, Chef Chris said that it was the dish that he had prepared when Pierneef à La Motte opened almost two years ago, and comes from the ‘Cape Winelands Cuisine’ cookbook, of which he was a collaborator, now served on a pizza. The pizza consists of a bechamel base infused with roasted garlic and rosemary, topped with mozzarella, smoked and braised lamb soutribbetjie, caramelised onion, pears poached in port, fresh rocket, and a sprinkling of rosemary salt. Chef Chris radiated passion when he shared that he had decided to get involved due to its good work in benefiting the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, having a young 3 year old son himself. He warmed to little 7 year old Mia, who attended the function with her parents, having undergone a liver transplant at the hospital three years ago. The young star stole the show, especially when Chef Chris picked her up and the cameras flashed.
R5 of every Celebrity Chef Series Signature Pizza Collection pizza costing R85 goes to the Red Cross Children’s Hospital Trust, which raises monies for upgrades of existing facilities at one of the best paediatric hospitals in Africa, and the purchase of new equipment. We were told that more than R500000 has been donated to the Trust in the past three years, and that close to R86000 has already been raised from the Celebrity Chef Series pizza sales in May and June this year, higher than in previous years of the promotion. In May Chef Jackie Cameron’s ‘Cape Funghi Pizza Delight‘ was the Celebrity Chef Series pizza, and in June it was Chef’s Coco Reinarhz’s ‘Bujumbura’ pizza, made with mozzarella, oven roasted brinjals, North African chicken tangine, green olives, preserved lemons, fresh coriander, drizzled with a coriander-infused yoghurt.
In the past the Col’Cacchio Celebrity Pizza Series has been run over the four winter months, a well-known chef lending his or her name to a pizza design each month. This year the pizza design for August was thrown open to a consumer Pizza Challenge competition, the designer of the best pizza winning the honour of having her pizza on the Celebrity Chef Series menu for all of August, and a year’s supply of free pizza. Chef Chris and MasterChef SA Judge and Chef Benny Masekwameng were the judges in choosing the winner out of the top three pizza finalists. As we have got to know Chef Benny from MasterChef SA, ever the gentleman, he said that all three the finalist pizzas were good enough to be served in restaurants like Col’Cacchio:
* Jessica Comninos’ ‘Liu Loren‘ pizza was designed as a ‘sexy‘ mix of Italian and Asian ingredients (tomato base, mozzarella, Asian marinated chicken, oven-caramelised apricots, fresh thyme, spring onion, fresh coriander, and drizzled with honey soy and orange reduction). The name of her pizza comes from two actress icons from these two regions: Sophia Loren and Lily Liu of Charlie’s Angels, Jessica explained. The judges said that it was ‘addictive’, and one of the best ever eaten, perfect to be eaten while watching a movie.
* ‘Salmon Dragon‘ was the entry by Keren Swanson, her pizza covered with mozzarella, braised rocket, smoked salmon, pickled ginger, spring onion, wasabi infused sour cream, and finished off with red salmon roe and balsamic glaze. Chef Chris described it as ‘sushi in a pizza‘, and ideal for summer next to a pool.
* Stephanie Burtenshaw designed the ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ pizza, which consists of a tomato base, mozzarella, feta, lamb stew, fresh garlic slivers, rosemary, finished off with honey pumpkin seed praline, and fresh basil leaves. The pizza is ideal for winter, the judges said.
Chef Chris said that at least 40 chefs had submitted their nominations in the Pizza Challenge, and therefore praised the three finalists for making it so far. The creative pizza names could be a lesson for pizza restaurants, in creating intrigue and interest. It was Jessica’s ‘Liu Loren’ pizza that was chosen as the winner. She said of her creation: “I grew up under the culinary expertise of my dad, who loves to experiment with different Thai flavours. His signature dish is a Thai-inspired Peking duck 5 course meal which includes the fragrant flavours of garlic, ginger, chilli, lemongrass and coriander. These Thai staples made every meal my favourite and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my favourite flavours than on a pizza!”
Sandi Sher of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital Trust said the funds raised this year will go to funding an upgrade of the B2 General Medical ward of the hospital, dealing with infectious diseases and general medical cases. The hospital was built 56 years ago, and treats children with chronic illnesses from South Africa and other countries in Africa. The Trust was launched eighteen years ago, as a fund raising body, and none of the monies are used to fund administrative costs, emphasised Sandi.
Co-owner Michael Terespolsky emphasised that they are a ‘slow food’ pizza franchise, with 20 outlets currently, the ribbetjie for Chef Chris’ pizza taking seven hours of slow cooking, for example. ‘That is why chefs like working with Col’Cacchio’ on the Celebrity Chef Series promotion, he said.
Seeing the enjoyment of little Mia in cutting shapes out of the pizza dough it seemed that it would be good idea if Col’Cacchio could make pizzas for the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, pizzas being loved by children, and they could become the ‘chicken soup’ for sick little people!
Disclosure: All guests attending received a slab of Lindt chocolate and a pizza slicer.
Col’Cocchia Celebrity Chef Series 2012. www.colcacchio.co.za. Twitter: @ColCacchio
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage
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