On Tuesday evening I had the honour of experiencing Rare Grill, which was named 2017 The Wolftrap Steakhouse Championship winner, the first time in the five year history of the Championships that a Cape Town steakhouse has won the award. What makes this Award so amazing is that the Rare Grill only opened in Kenilworth nine months ago, and only seats 26 patrons! Continue reading →
Last month Llewellyn Lambert and I went to try out Ben Wei Sushi, Asian, and Fusion restaurant in Wembley Square, by invitation from PMPR Solutions, the PR agency representing the restaurant. We were served a wide variety of Asian, sushi, and fusion foods. Ben Wei means ‘original taste’ in Mandarin. Some of the dishes we tried had not yet been added to the menu. Continue reading →
The Sweet Service Award goes to Kfm, for its Christmas Wish project to share goodwill with Capetonians going through difficult times. Last week I heard goodwill bestowed upon Madeleze Gibson, whose husband David passed away in a car accident while driving to a store to buy nappies for their child. Madeleze was left with three children and a baby on the way shortly. On Rob Vember’s afternoon show both Madeleze and her sister-in-law Desraye, who had Continue reading →
* SAA Acting CEO Nico Bezuidenhout has announced that one of its subsidiaries may be sold, and a stake in SAA could be sold too. Subsidiary Mango may be listed. Losses have been reduced from R7 million per day last year to R5 million per day two months ago.
* Spur has been named as our country’s leading restaurant brand, out of 45 evaluated (the list is not supplied, but appears to consist of franchise brands), followed by McDonalds, Ocean Basket, Mugg & Bean, and Wimpy. The study was conducted in November last year, amongst customers earning R5000 per month or more. Continue reading →
It was a call from Nick, who handles Social Media for Haas Collective, an advertising agency, art and interior decor consultancy, and coffee shop, that motivated my colleague and I to return to the new Haas building on Buitenkant Street yesterday, to write this piece.
Haas became a firm favourite when it first opened more than three years ago on Rose Street, giving life and energy to this Bo-Kaap street, being a convenient stop with parking usually available and devoid of parking marshalls. It became a second office (even though wifi was always problematical, with changing passwords) and a welcome meeting place, all first-time visitors being impressed with the art-focused interior. The food was always secondary, prepared from a kitchen across the road in a rented building, adjacent to where the Haas advertising agency had its offices too, in addition to the upstairs offices. Service deteriorated over time, as the waiters became more arrogant and slack, jiving in the entrance section, talking noisily, and not proactively following up with the kitchen. Inge has been the only efficient manager on the coffee shop side of the business, but Continue reading →
I had forgotten how hard it is to stay on top of a new series of MasterChef SA, and last night’s first episode of Season 3 was disappointing in being mainly an hour long tasting of 36 angelfish dishes, for the first day of Bootcamp. But the tough elimination challenge could not have been held against a more beautiful backdrop than that of Table Mountain, great marketing for Cape Town. The dominance of Reuben Robertsons Riffel was disappointing, being the new judge.
In the previous two MasterChef SA Seasons, more time was spent in getting to know the contestants, when they had to do basic tests such as peeling and cutting potatoes, and peeling and slicing onions. Last night the hot auditions in Cape Town (with Chef Pete Goffe-Wood and guest chef Henry Vigar of La Mouette), in Durban (Riffel with Chef Jackie Cameron, who has just left Hartford House to open her Jackie Cameron School of Food & Wine) and in Johannesburg (Chef Bennie Masekwameng was joined by Chef Andrea Burgener, Continue reading →
The Winter 2014 specials for more than 90 Cape Town and Winelands restaurants follow below, and are updated continuously. We welcome information about new specials, and the feedback about your meals at these restaurants:
* Umi in Camps Bay: 3 course set menu R260, 5 courses R360, both include a shared bottle of Warwick First Lady. Order 3 meals off a la carte menu, get the 4th free. Slow cooked shortrib R110, Karan beef sirloin R95, Japanese beer marinated Karan beef fillet R120, pork belly R90, warm salmon and black bean R120, and fish & fries R85. Tel (021) 437-1802 (added 10/5/14)
* Pepenero in Mouille Point : Order 3 meals and get 4th (cheapest) free; Sirloin R89, Rump R89, Lamb cutlets R99, Seafood platter R149, Sushi platter R129, Crayfish tails R169, Veal schnitzel R95, Soup of day R40, Prawn platter R139, Oxtail R110, and Osso Buco R89. Half price sushi (selected items) all day. Daily. Tel (021) 439-9027 (updated 10/5/14)
* 5 Rooms, Alphen Boutique Hotel: 2 courses R170; 2 courses with bottle of Warwick First Lady (shared between two) R220; 3 courses R 220; 3 courses plus bottle of Warwick First Lady (shared between two) R 270. Sirloin R95, Baby chicken R95, Braised oxtail R110, Seafood bouillabaisse R135, Grilled Prawn R99, Slow braised lamb shank R115. Tel (021) 795-6313 (updated 10/5/14)
* Zenzero, Camps Bay: 2 courses R160; 2 courses with bottle of Warwick First Lady (shared between two) R210; 3 courses Continue reading →
My friend Whitney and I decided to give the new Tashas in the V&A Waterfront a try, after we had both heard good things about the restaurant, which opened in the previous Mugg & Bean space a month ago. It was a poor experience, leaving a bad taste in our mouths, both Whitney and I getting ill from the food.
The owner and chef Raynne Roll told us that each of the eleven Tashas created around the country over the past eight years is themed decor wise, and has signature dishes and specialist wines to tie in with the theme. The theme of the Waterfront branch is Spanish, and hence the additional Tapas menu and Spanish style cakes, which are unique to the branch. Bowls and paella pans have been bought in from Spain for the new restaurant. Tashas Constantia is French Country inspired, Pretoria is South African, Melrose Arch is ‘Sushi, Oysters and Champagne’, Rosebank in Johannesburg is New York, and the Nicolway branch is Portuguese.
I arrived before Whitney did, and walked in from the mall entrance, where the branding is so small that it is easy to miss. The iron gates do not look relevant to a
Despite one of the worst winters ever experienced by the Cape hospitality industry, most restaurants appear to have survived it. A surprise trend is the number of Mediterranean style restaurants opening, with true Spanish and Italian owners and/or staff. This list of restaurant openings and closings is updated continuously, as we receive new information:
* The Harbour House group has opened La Parada Spanish Tapas restaurant on Bree Street, with a subterranean bar/nightclub (above).
* Café Puerto Cabo has opened on Loop Street, a Spanish eatery and men’s clothing shop.
* The House of Machines has opened on Shortmarket Street, building motorcycles, offering good Evil Twin coffee, and serving very healthy food.
* Orphanage Cocktail Emporium is opening Orphanage Club upstairs, with 1920’s style music by live performers, later this year.
Episode 2 of MasterChef SA was boring, long and drawn out, a continuation of Tuesday’s Hot Auditions held in Johannesburg. The episode was characterised by tears, two references to parents passing away, and lots of happy hugging of the judges by the lucky winners of the white aprons, entitling them to attend Bootcamp. The contestants were less characterful and impressive than those of Tuesday evening.
The episode was inconsistent, showing some contestants winning the apron, without their names being revealed. and almost no motivation provided as to why the judges chose them. It is a shame too that some of the contestants’ friends and colleagues (e.g. of Shannon Smuts) Tweeted about her performance all day, making the outcome pretty certain, this taking away some of the surprise. Generally it was a long drawn out episode, with the repetition of food preparation in 45 minutes, plating in 5 minutes, and then seeing the judges stuffing themselves, almost having a bun fight over a custard! The mention of a parent having passed away by two contestants, one mentioning it twice to the camera, was seen by Tweeters to be overdone, and begging for a sympathy vote!
Based on the same principle of highlighting those contestants which received the most screen time last night, we predict that the following will go through to Nederburg, if they survive Bootcamp next week:
1. Tiron Eloff works at a video store, which may be sold due to the tough times, which will allow him to become a professional chef. He said that he had paid so much attention to other people in his life, and that it was time to focus on himself now. He prepared a rare grilled hanger steak, which Chef Pete was sceptical about, it being a difficult cut of meat to do well, and which Tiron admitted to only having prepared once before, and having overcooked it then! His jus was made with sugar, port, and Cabernet Sauvignon. He looked extremely nervous whilst the judges sampled his food. Chef Pete reiterated that it was a challenging piece of meat, and that it may not have been a good idea to try to make it on such an important occasion, but that it had turned out perfectly. He was supported by Chef Andrew, who praised the steak and its perfect seasoning. Twitter: @TironEloff
2. Mary was a Latin American dancer and now is a stay-at-home mom, so the judges were playing with words when they provided the feedback, saying she needed to put her best foot forward and learn the steps of cooking, Chef Pete saying he wanted to see her dance some more. Chef Benny loved her dish of gnocchi, prawns, chorizo, and cherry tomatoes, while Chef Pete said that the individual pieces were too large.
3. Bubbly twenty year old Linda (called Monkey). with a hint of pink in her hair, went ape when she was selected, making a three course meal, including a Thai Trio, which Chef Andrew rejected on the basis of its overpowering sauce and dry noodles. However, Chef Pete liked the dish, but warned her that she should have focused on one dish only. Chef Benny also gave her a ‘Yes’, and she hugged the judges, jumping for joy.
4. Tumi works for SARS, and said that he has a passion for cooking, which he does at home, spoiling his wife. He prepared a Seafood Fettucini, praised by all three judges for being perfect home-made pasta. Chef Pete was disappointed that it wasn’t lunchtime yet, as he could have finished the whole dish!
5. Gershwin expressed his love for cooking and prepared a medium rare beef fillet with watercress. Chef Benny rejected his dish, for having no salt and pepper, fundamental seasoning he said, but he did praise the ‘4 star restaurant plating’ of his dish. But Chefs Pete and Andrew allowed him to go through, as he had executed a safe and classic dish well.
6. Karen Els is a stay at home mom from KwaZulu-Natal, and she was ecstatic when she received her apron, loving her cooking more than her husband and children, she admitted in her joy. She said it is her time to shine, and described the making and presentation of food as an ‘art form’. She prepared a waterblommetjie-stuffed ostrich dish, served with cous cous. Chefs Benny and Andrew gave her dish the go-ahead, which resulted in a flood of tears. Twitter: @kelsfoodie
7. Alistair works at Nedbank (as does Season 1 winner Deena Naidoo) and is a third year student in Musicology he said. He mentioned twice that his mother had just passed away, and cried as he entered the judging arena, being very emotional. His mother had always urged him to do the best, and to win. He did say that he was happy to be at the Hot Audition. He prepared an Asian-style Seared Tuna, Chef Pete praising its flavours having been drawn out well, and Chef Benny gave him a thumbs-up too.
8. Khumo Twala made a Sticky Toffee pudding, with a custard which the three judges were fighting over to finish. No further information was provided about her, but she received her apron for Bootcamp. Twitter: @Simply_khumski
9. Pashi from Durban is a marketer, and also lost his father recently, and now supports his family. He wants to change career direction and cook full-time, realising that he can earn money from it. His Crayfish and Mussels dish, made with a Thai massaman curry sauce, was well received for its delicate touch and lovely flavours, earning him an apron. Twitter: @Pashi187
10. Rowan from Durban said he has been cooking since the age of 12, and made a Moroccan chicken fillet. Chef Pete did not like it at all, saying it was as dry as the desert in Morocco. Chefs Benny and Andrew said the chicken was a little dry, but that the sauce picked up the dish, giving him an apron.
11. Shannon Smuts is a graphic designer at Good Housekeeping magazine in Cape Town, and when asked what she wants from the programme, she confidently answered that she wants her own cooking TV show and a cook book! She has a huge Twitter fan club already! She has lived in Thailand, and made Thai curry parcels with a self-made curry paste. Chef Pete did not like the dish for having too much pastry, but the other two judges liked the crispness of the pastry and the taste of the paste. She jumped for joy too, and hugged all three the judges! Twitter: @Shananigems
There seemed to be far more non-sponsor advertisements last night compared to Tuesday evening, and they dominated the sponsor presence: Ariel (a surprise), Spur, FNB, Scooters, Stanlib, Cell C, Spar, ESKOM, and Samsung.
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 can 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.
Next week’s episodes will focus on the Bootcamp, and are likely to be far more exciting that the first two episodes. They will also be an opportunity to get to know some of the Finalists better, and to see how they cope under pressure. If this week is anything to go by, we are in for a lot more tears (especially from the men it would appear!) in the next 12 weeks to come!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage